April 7, 2013

Spring Loop

The sun's early rays bathed the desert and distant mountains in golden light.
Steve loves trying out new routes, so the day's plan was for a loop ride starting from the Brush Corral trailhead.  Brush corrals are numerous in the area.  Cowboys of old piled up dead juniper tree trunks and branches in a circular fashion to create a corral for collecting cattle.  The trailhead I refer to is near the Hans Flat Ranger station, with a relatively new brush corral (maybe only 50-75 years old) at the end of an infrequently used two-track.
From there, we rode across the desert to the vicinity of Cowboy Cave, into the Spur Fork of Horseshoe Canyon to the Blue-eyed Princess, and back through Lower Pasture and Matt Warner's outlaw camp , down into Horseshoe Canyon and out again to the trailhead.  Other than an unexpected fence that forced us to take a 2 mile detour, it all went pretty well. 
Here's one of the "gnarly parts" I didn't take a picture of on our last trip to the Princess.  That time, we followed another rider straight up the steep shaley slope, probably not the wisest move.  This trip, we traversed to the top.  Much safer and easier.
This pool in a sandstone cut provided a nice drink for the horses.  You may notice my new stylin' headgear.  I finally figured out a way to wear a helmet and not get sunburned.  Save brain and skin, that's my new motto.
Case caddis fly larva roamed the bottom of the pool.  In a month or so, tadpoles will swim here, too.  This indicates moisture, if not actual surface water, is present year round. 
The Princess panel was still impressive, and easy to find now that we knew where to look.
Some people call this the Blue-eyed Jesus and describe a beard.  I do see a dark line down the figure's chest.  Maybe it was once part of a beard.  What do you think?  Is it a he or a she, god-like or royal?
On the return part of the loop, we explored a few springs that are unnamed on the topo maps. 
This small pool is below Matt Warner's outlaw camp, which I posted about here
We climbed to the spring's source and found a much larger pool.  We hereby dub it Blue Spring, because of the bluish tint of the sandstone surrounding it. 
A little further along, we came to this small stream, where Daisy played on an earlier ride.  (We left her at the trailer this time, because the day was warm and it was a long way between waterholes.)  We climbed into the box canyon to find where the water seeps from the contact zone between porous Navajo sandstone above and impervious Kayenta sandstone below. 
The pool formed here is a generous one for desert country.  Since the spring is unnamed, our faithful lab, lover of water everywhere, gets the honor.  We call it Ms. Daisy Spring. 
As we rode away from the spring, this little bull rose from his resting place under a pinyon and stared at us.  He didn't seem inclined to leave, so we gave him a wide berth.
Besides a few errant cattle that aren't supposed to be in this canyon, we also saw a small herd of donkeys, a coyote, a squirrel-like critter, rabbits, and a few early insects.  Only an occasional flower bloomed, but it's early yet.  The leaves are just coming out on bushes and trees.
We dragged into camp about 5 PM, having completed 26 difficult canyon country miles and 2500 feet of altitude gain and loss.  Both humans and horses had earned their supper, don't you think?


  1. What a ride, Janie. That shale looks treacherous! All your photos make me feel as though I was with you. Glad to know the flowers aren't blooming yet - they're waiting for me to get to UT! You remind me of our sons - long underwear and shorts! Must not have been too cold - you're not wearing a coat.

  2. Nice looking ride. Where's daddy's headgear?

  3. Hi, Barb!
    The highs were in the low 60's. Perfect riding weather! I hope we get back down there when the flowers are blooming.
    Actually, I wear riding tights, with a patch of leather on the inside of the knees to avoid chafing. I just add the short so I'll have pockets for my chapstick and horse treats!

  4. I'm amazed there are places that are still not named. I guess you see few people there since it's so rugged. The countryside is very beautiful.

    It's much warmer there than here, I can see that.

  5. Wow that was a long and gorgeous ride! yes, dinner was well deserved.
    Save brain and skin should be a motto for us all!
    I'm not sure about the blue eyed princess or Jesus. It kinda looks like an alien to me. How far away is area 61? LOL

  6. I like your new headgear! And the new header photo is magnificent!

  7. I like your new headgear too Janie, looks very sensible. What a great post! The next best thing to traveling with you, through these splendid photos. I will have to try and find Misty of Chincoteague. Even though I don't ride and don't get to be around horses that often, I do enjoy them.

  8. The rugged landscape looks beautiful in your pictures. I like how you named some of the places. The little bull looks cute yet intimidating!

  9. definitely deserving...love these photos...

  10. Yes you guys earned supper. Of course you had to cook it after being out all day.

  11. That does look very steep - but what glorious views!

  12. I love going along on these rides with you. I wonder how the bull got out there?

  13. you earned a dessert too for sharing this with us!
    love that photo of crossing the gnarly shale. well, all of them.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  14. Hi Janie, this looks like an amazing trail. Your photos are lovely.



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