As many times as we've ridden the same Nicolet National Forest trails, they always feel different. The ecosystem is ever evolving, and this year it offered a very lush forest. It was as if someone dumped buckets of different shades of fresh green paint, everywhere. The forest also offered something much less appealing, the worst mosquito/gnat/biting fly infestation we've ever experienced! Apparently after such a looong cold hard winter, the sudden hot weather hatched 5 out of 7 mosquito varieties all at once. Fun-fun, or more like swat-swat!!
We heard the bugs were bad beforehand, and armed ourselves accordingly. We picked up a couple Thermacell clip-on's, loaded up on fly spray and brought along fly masks for the horses.
Nemo had started showing signs of trouble with his allergies the week before we left, and got checked out by the vet. The fly mask seemed to keep whatever was irritating him at bay, so we didn't medicate. Some years his seasonal allergies are an issue, some years not.
The bugs weren't too bad at our cabin site. We decided to head out late afternoon on arrival day to see what the buzz was all about. That didn't last long. We never made it off the main multi use trail, and turned back home shortly after leaving the ranch. The horses got swarmed by pockets of mosquito's, not fun for any of us. Koda was thrashing his head from side to side so bad that he actually yanked one of my reins right out of my hand. I wasn't very happy that he didn't whoa, and continued being an antsy-pants while spinning in a one rein stop fashion...I know he was understandably in a frenzy from the bugs, but still...whoa means WHOA!! We finished our ride in the much less buggy outdoor arena on the ranch, and called it good.
After going out for a quick bite at one of our favorite local bar eateries, it was campfire time!
The paddocks are right outside our cabin. It feels like the horses are all but sitting at the campfire with us. We love, love, love our campfire time!!
|where siesta's happen|
Listening to the soft sounds of our horses munching hay, fire crackling, evening chirping, and the clear expansive star filled dotted sky....sigh...it's SO relaxing, and puts everything into perspective.
|smoke follows beauty ;)|
We tacked up and headed back out on the trail in the morning. This time it was Nemo that was clearly miserable, his head tossing was hard to manage. Poor guy. Nemo's allergies hit full force as soon as we left the ranch. We didn't get much further then the day before, and turned back around. Wondering if we should load up and take the horses back home? or just not ride?? We decided instead to see if we could get a hold of some medicine, and when/if it calmed Nemo's allergies down - then we would try trail riding again.
We played telephone tag-n-text with our daughter, who works at our clinic, who got a hold of our vet, who called the local vet the ranch owners use for their horses, then we called, she called, they called - all to help Nemo be more comfortable, and make a difference. Altho everyone was super helpful and responded asap, this all took hours - including our little adventure we had picking up the medicine. Finding the north woods vet proved to be harder then we thought. No thanks to our phone GPS. At one point the GPS told us to get out and walk the rest of the way to our destination (not kidding!!) in the middle of nowhere...say what?!? We called the local vet, and found out we had another 30 miles or so to go. That would have been one heck of a looong walk! Needless to say we turned off the dumb@ss GPS. Guess we should have accepted the directions we were originally offered back at the ranch!
We gave the allergy medicine a chance to work overnight, and savored a nice dinner at one of our favorite supper clubs on the lake. I had my usual, walleye & scallops ~ mmmm! Of course we also enjoyed another p.m. & a.m. relaxing campfire, shared with our horses!
Brad's iphoto with caption that he sent to a few friends
"6:00am, horses eating breakfast, fire going,
sitting back with a cup of coffee with my best friend.
Wish everyday started like this."
At first we were somewhat disappointed that we had barely ridden through the forest on this trip, but Nemo's comfort was more important. We truly enjoy being up north. It's not all about the ride...our trips are so much more then that to us.
On our last full day we headed out on the trail, going the opposite direction. It's got more hardwoods, so we figured it might be less problematic for Nemo's allergies. There was only one way to find out if he was better - and whala - the allergy med's worked! It felt good to be back trail riding in the depth's of the serene forest!
The cooler weather made for less bug activity, so it was enjoyable. Altho Koda had gotten a taste of turning around from the prior attempted rides, and gave me some challenges. We worked through them, without dismounting. Some were easier then others, each scenario was resolved differently. Thankfully there were only a handful of "I don't want to go that way" and eventually he quit the sudden spin to change directions.
Koda was on forward march the entire 3.5 hour ride. Needless to say we lead most of the way, and at times worked on rating his speed. Sometimes we do a little trotting on the stretches, but otherwise we walk the winding trails and soak it all in.
|being one with the pines|
|sauntering through a sea of green|
On leaving day, we opted not to ride. Some years we pack everything up before heading out for one last ride, and some years we don't. The boys were sooo relaxed, and comfy in their sandy paddocks...
...so much that Koda attracted another camper who stood watching him lying flat out on his side sleeping for the longest time, and took pictures of him.
It's wonderful to see that even the horses settle in and enjoy our trips. Everything moves at a slower pace in the north woods. Not that the local folks don't work hard, because they most certainly do. But when surrounded by vast nature, eventually relaxation sets in - if you let it.
We had a wonderful trip, and wouldn't change a thing (minus mosquitos). It all serves a much larger purpose.
|beauty is in the eye of the beholder|