Revelations and Insight

Posted by Sharon Labels: , , , , , , , ,

     I wish I could have blogged my trail riding vacation in Utah every day (so much I could have written) but time did not allow and, to be honest, my priority was not sitting at a computer at the end of the day. For a time when I got home I thought of writing the details up day by day while they were fresh in my mind but scrapped that too. As the days went by, other thoughts, insights and revelations surfaced and it is those I am putting on paper now.
     I have wanted to ride in Utah for a long time, ever since my husband and I visited the areas around Moab almost 25 years ago. Living alone as I do now and with financial restrictions, it was almost impossible but last fall I decided I was going to do it. Why? Because, at 74 years, I wasn't sure how much longer I would be able to. Pushing aside nagging reminders that I should not be spending money I might need for something else, I researched my trip looking for the perfect place to go. I wanted to be able to ride on my own – no guided rides – and I found Paria River Ranch.
    Trading off my trailer for a newer one with larger living quarters just before I departed increased my anxiety about the cost of the vacation but I stayed on course, loaded Sapphire and Cameo in the trailer and Mischa in the truck and got on the road for what would be a three day haul to Paria. As it turned out, it was four. I drove right into a Montana snowstorm and spent much of one day parked. Better to lose a day than to be in a wreck though. Horses, dog and I were safe.
Pulled over here when I-15 north of Butte turned to ice.
      When I arrived at my destination, settled in and looked around, all my doubts about the wisdom of spending the time and money on this vacation for me vanished.
Revelation #1: This trip was the right thing to do.
     A kind of peace settled over me. This is why I came. Let the adventure begin.
Parked at Paria River Ranch.
Paria River Ranch
    In the next days, I explored the trails around Paria River Ranch, one time on Sapphire, the next on Cameo. The first ride I rode Sapphire and led Cameo, not sure how she would be left by herself in a pen at the ranch. They seemed as eager to see the sights as I did.
Sapphire and Cameo take in the sights on my first ride in Utah.
Long Canyon
     On the third day, by pre-arrangement, I met with a cousin I didn't know I had who lived nearby, an opportunity too good to miss and we visited and went for dinner in Page AZ. The next day I agreed to a group ride to Resurrection Canyon arranged by a gal who lived there. It was a good group of riders, friendly and considerate but...
Revelation #2: Having trail ridden by myself or with one other person my entire life, I am not cut out for group rides. (Can't train on the trail, can't stop to take photos when I want, etc)
     A new friend with a big rig hauled me to the Resurrection Canyon trailhead and then to Buckskin Gulch trailhead the next day, both rides of which I would not have done since I had not planned to haul out at all. I was so proud of my mares loading into a side door of his trailer (a big step) beside his geldings! I took Sapphire the first day and Cameo the second. They hesitated, then stepped up only because I asked.
My ride to Resurrection and Buckskin Gulch. Note side door.
Cameo and I Buckskin Gulch Ride

Revelation #3: I had been in a rut - always working to make things better at home when there was a world to explore.
   Of course I met people at the ranch, some of whom I will keep in touch with. A couple from Las Vegas are planning a trip to Alberta next year. As occasionally happens to me, she and I had an almost instant rapport and I gave her a copy of my book because, as I told her, "You will get it."
     After two days of riding with someone else, I was ready to be on my own again. I had intended to ride Nautilus but seeing a group ahead of me, I changed to an exploratory ride down the river, eating lunch at the end of Copper Slot Canyon. We crossed the Paria a couple of times being ever vigilant of quicksand, and I re-centered again.
     My cell phone was my connection to home and a way to post photos of my adventure. Unintentionally, I took several people along on my adventure. Also unintentionally, I seem to have inspired a few to do something like I did. Reading the comments on Facebook, it was heartwarming to know most were happy for me. A few made their presence known by NOT commenting which in itself spoke volumes.
Revelation #4: I refuse to feel guilty or privileged for taking this vacation.
Revelation #5: This holiday trumped any vacation at a beach! That being said, I recognize it would not be for everyone. It can be physically demanding and the added responsibility of horses and dog daunting for some. For me though - perfect!
     For the last three days a good friend joined me, one of only a few that I would allow to ride one of my mares. Marion flew down the day before I booked out of Paria River Ranch. We rode once from there then left to ride the old Paria Townsite on the way to Bryce Canyon.
Sapphire and I at the Paria Townsite
Marion and Cameo along Paria River (Paria Townsite ride)
      The icing on the cake was Bryce Canyon, my last Utah ride. No photo can possibly capture the grandeur and to ride through it, on my own horse was, well, the experience of a lifetime.


      On a final note, kudos to my mares, who accepted, with grace, everything I asked. Neither one had been on any kind of extended trail ride like this before. They were sure footed, trustworthy and trusting. They did buddy up of course but that could be expected.

     Did I make any mistakes, do anything stupid, on my trip? Yes. I'm still a country girl at heart and I tend to trust too easily. Or is it that I just don't think that there are people I shouldn't trust? On the way home, when I was looking for a place for my horses to overnight, I stopped in a little town thinking there would be a rodeo grounds there. Not much was open but I asked a couple of fellows chatting on the street. The one in the truck said he lived there but the rodeo grounds was privately owned and he knew of no other.

     "I have a little patch of ground you can use," he said. "Jump in and I'll show you." So I did! What was I thinking? In today's age, one should not ever do that. He truly was a nice man, showed me the little pasture but I chose not to use it as it seemed unsafe to turn them in at night. Only later did I think how stupid that was to get in the truck with a strange man...
Revelation #6: I underestimated myself. A lifetime of always trying to do better, to be better had allowed doubts to creep in (sometimes by others but mostly by myself for allowing it to happen) that I still did not do things as well as I should. But a ton of experience behind the wheel and on the back of a horse had prepared me for this trip as it has done in the past. I don't scare easily and I don't stress and that has saved many a potential dangerous situation. My horses will do anything for me if I ask nicely and I can still hold my own physically on a long day in the saddle. I cannot ask for more.
And I did gain insight into myself and others and what makes us all tick. I now have a better understanding of that part of the country, too, and its people. I always learn when I visit some place new but there's questions unanswered too, like "What makes those rocks that colour?" and "Why are the lines in the rock" and "How did the early settlers survive?" I'll be looking for answers.

And my new motto (borrowed from Nike on the advice of a friend): "Just do it!"