I am saddled up once again, my paint horse Kinto is tethered out for grass, it is now Juan’s turn, my impetuous little Ono, for a 4×4 trip down the back roads. A couple of days ago we could hear the ATV’s climbing through the area that I had unsuccessfully tried to maneuver a few days back, however we had a good rain a couple of days prior and the road was good and slippery and fun for off-roaders (they always come out after a good rain), so I figured that they may have ‘fixed’ the bad spot that was there for me, by driving over it and flattening it out a little bit. They also do lots of chopping of the serious overgrowth hanging over the road, so I was ready to give it another try with my own ATV, Ono. Ono is a 4×4, he is agile and enthusiastic and never has a doubt about giving ‘it’ a go, and so we did.
Ono covered the road all the way to the river, where Kinto had said ‘Excuse me, you want me to go there?’ Ono just plowed on through. We stopped and played in the river with the dogs, it was another hot and humid day and so we gave in to the urge to stop and enjoy the gentle tumbling of the water over the rocks into the small pool big enough for the dogs to swim and the horse to play, way out here in the middle of where not-very-many-people-ever-go. So peaceful and quiet…I was hoping to get a glimpse of some monkeys or snakes in the canopy, my attention was on, but it seemed the only wild animals out that day were spiders, lots of them with webs everywhere and every which way, walking right into their sticky thick webs across the road – yuck. Enjoying every minute in this incredible wilderness backcountry, this is my time for totally Being in the Now, my backcountry meditation grounding session with no time, only us doing what we are doing, in direct connect to the Cosmic Forces That Are.
We climbed on up the other side and I was able to get past the really rough spot, it had indeed been flattened out enough by the ATV’s for me to get by on the horse, and now I was heading into territory that was entirely new and untravelled as of yet by yours truly and company. The scenery was/is stunning, the views of the valley far below and the expansive jungle with the sounds that never stop…we were climbing up the other side of the river and heading into some back country on trails that are maintained only by a few horsemen and occasional 4×4 groups, and they travel through seldom enough that the (audible) peace is maintained. The steep sections of the road were very well rutted and took some serious climbing to get through, but then as we neared the top we were traveling through some very thick grassy stretches bordered by the big ferns that grow very thick and invasive where land has been cleared in the past (evidence of human interference, at one time). This is the time of year when everything goes to flower and the beauty of the various flowering trees and roadside shrubs with their intoxicating scents wafting through and filling the air…mmmmm, sublime to say the least, high on flowers I am. We were pretty much on top of that hill now and I could hear the waterfall clearly to my left, in between where I was and where our house is, with the river gorge deep and dark and impenetrable – or so it appears – but I could not see the falls…perhaps I just missed them (mental note: look more intensely for the falls next time). Now we were moving into the forest jungle canopy once again, deep overgrowth and a narrow trail, steep in some spots but otherwise continuing to wind up the other side of the hill and along the ridge top, fully rutted by rain flow. The road became easily traversable and we were able to cover a great deal of distance when all of a sudden up ahead there was a wide cleared area…as we approached we could see that it was a convergence of four trails, the one I was on from the north, one from the west and along the ridge that rises up from the south side of the river, one from the south from the valley below that ridge, and the road to the east, where I was headed. It was a convergence of three very rarely traveled horse trails from three different directions of the wild jungle countryside, all converging into one somewhat more developed and traveled road. I would bet that the trail from the west is the continuing trail from where the bridge is washed out (the last ride’s goal to cross, unsuccessfully), so on my next ride I am going down that trail to see if I can make it to the washed-out-bridge river crossing from the OTHER side! (Oh how awesome it would be to have someone to ride with and explore out here! So much to see, such an adventure and no one to share it with. Note to self: work on this one).
Ono and me and the dogs continued up the trail to the east…and now there is a barbed wire fence running alongside of me to the right, the trail has become a poor dirt road, and there is a wire gate in the fence marking an entrance into a pasture there – civilization! The road is now improved with use, much wider, and we know we have made it to the main connection to the ‘other side of the hill’; the rest of the trail would be easy for sure, from here. This was Ono’s first long trip out in the country doing some serious climbing and work in getting around, and I figured it would be a good time to turn around and head back as I did not want him to be too leg weary, we had to maneuver back down those slippery rutty roads to get home and this would require him to be strong and balanced. It was already quite hot and we were both very sweaty.
Back down the road we went, of course the easy part of the road is the beginning of the return trip now, but as we get into the steep rutty sections of the trail Ono is moving right along and having no problems slipping and sliding along, stepping here and hopping there to traverse the rough spots. However he chooses to stop often enough for a breather, which is fine because he has worked hard at keeping us both upright through all of this. He would actually get going pretty fast on some of those steep spots and my job was to stay in balance and in the middle, no matter how he had to be moving to get through, so I let him have the navigation – he knows where to go and not to go – and we did pretty good with only one ‘oops’ moment where he almost did the splits sideways – ooops, a little bit slick there Pal, but he is athletic and recovers quickly. We were all relieved to be back in the river once again, but there was an eagerness to get home now, for all of us, and so we moved on out after a short refresher.
To be able to ride in this amazing back country jungle, so rarely traveled, is such a treat and a blessing for me in my life right now. I was fortunate enough to grow up traveling around the states to and through some of those most beautiful and pristine places (then) when there was little people traffic and the countryside had little evidence of human impact (now there are trams and busses and condos for those that wish to see those wonders of the world, tsk). And then after getting married our life was totally in the back country living on wild and remote ranches, getting around by horse in places where evidence of days gone by was still there, i.e. old stage stops with the buildings worn and eroding away still present, and the old stage routes rutted into the earth. Now here we areliving in a world that we didn’t even know still existed: a jungle land way out in the country that still shows little evidence of people traffic, and left in it’s very simple and humble state, for us to enjoy. Wow! I never would have believed that this was still available to experience, yet here we are…and like my Mother tells me, ‘Enjoy it now, the world is filling up fast with the people and it won’t be there much longer.’ I do beg to differ with her on that one…;)
Endless thanks for the privilege of enjoying this, especially by horseback! Life is good.