Monday, October 12, 2009

Riding Weekend at Mammoth Cave National Park

Okay, not a very catchy title, but descriptive of what I was doing this past weekend! My friends and my daughter and I often frequent trails in Eastern Kentucky, but with the treacherous, steep hills there we thought we might be better heading west since it looked like conditions would be wet. We certainly didn't let the mud bother us, and had a great weekend.
Knowing how hard Western Kentucky was hit by the 2009 ice storm made me that much more appreciative of the great condition of the park's 60 miles of horse trails. A LOT of people have done a ton of chainsawing and chopping to get the trails open and in shape, as there were fallen trees everywhere. Rarely did we have to go over or even around many trees, and modern erosion control measures were in place on a lot of the steeper hills.
I think we rode about 15-18 miles on Saturday, with this church (Good Springs Baptist Church, est. 1842) being a popular stopping point and our lunch site. We enjoyed watching groups of horses and riders coming and going, and looking around in the cemetary.
This was a grave for twin girls that died separately at just a few months old. There was a series of 6 tiny graves in another family plot, marked "Infant Son or Infant Daughter", all from the same family. They died during the days of cholera, influenza and tuberculosis- swine flu is definitely not looking too bad.
My friends are great cooks, and as always we ate well. Our favorite meals are those we share on the trail, and this year we had "Gallop Gals" wine with our lunch, complements of Marti.
We also enjoyed Marti's trademark, hot "carmel Apple" drinks (sans bourbon, since we'd be driving home the same day). Mary Beth had put together some pocket stews to cook over the campfire, and they were awesome, with ground buffalo and fall vegetables simmering together over the flames. Yum!

All three horses did great, with my flashy little horse Sunday catching most of the compliments. I am coming to appreciate his small stature more and more as my bones get a little stiffer! (Plus, it's not as far to fall!)
I found myself gazing around at the woodland floor as we rode, partly watching for hazards but also observing signs of fall. An entire book could have been written and photographed of all of the colorful mushrooms, which I observed in every hue including a lavender purple.
The poison ivy was even turning fall colors, with shades of gold and crimson observed. I didn't get any good shots of that, but got some other fall leaves.
As always, I came away feeling very grateful to live in such a wonderful state and to have such great friends (and horses!) with which to enjoy it. I can't wait for our next outing! Pin It Now!

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