The Rides

| July 7, 2015 | 1 Reply

By Marthetta Blakley  | July 6, 2015

MBHeader3CHow can I write a book about Songbird Ranch without writing about the horses? After all, it’s the love for horses that got me here in the first place. I was the child who clamored to ride a horse at any given opportunity. I was so naughty, crying for a horse of my own, while watching the Caldwell Night Rodeo parade one time that Mom said she’d never bring me to watch another one. I think my first ride was on my sister’s friend, Ginger’s, horse. I remember it was very large and brown. I was probably three or so.

Whenever the family went anywhere that a trail ride was offered, that was my choice and I wouldn’t stop whining til I got to ride. Sometimes the fam would discuss one vacation adventure or another and I wouldn’t know what they were talking about. Everyone would look at me like I had lost my mind (it wouldn’t be the first time) until they remembered my choice for vacation adventures. The horseback ride.   While they went down to see the shoot out in Jackson Hole, I was riding along the ridge above town, watching a spectacular sunset, pleased as punch. While they were off on a tour of the Mammoth hot pots at Yellow Stone, I was riding a horse through a flat, gray, plain, surrounded by steam vents and small boiling pots of thick, yellowish, stinky, goop, quite eerie and more than a little bit scary. How thrilling! While they were swimming at Silver Creek Plunge, I was riding a horse up the trail through the pine trees, listening to birds and looking for chipmunks, or, I as called them, chickiemongies.  That would have been a difficult decision because I love to swim almost as much as I love to ride. All of these rides were guided, of course, with a string of dudes following a handsome cowboy who I had already fallen in love with even at the age of seven.  Those cowboys!

Little Baron Lake

Sawtooth_Wilderness_Baron_Lakes_2008Sometime in the late 60’s, the entire family visited Grand Jean, Idaho. We decided to take a trail ride up to Little Baron Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains. The anticipation of drinking from a mountain lake fed by a glacier even got Stephen, my big brother, on a horse. Stephen was not particularly fond of the big critters.

Nothing compares to the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. I have seen the Alps and as inspiring as they are, they have people scattered all over them. As we rode along the gravel road, there would come the near religious moment, with breath held, while Dad signed us in at the Forest Service gate. From that point on, we were in the Primitive Area. No machine had ever been in this area. All of the trails and bridges were built with hatchet, axe and saw, by hand. The only way in was on horseback or afoot. This, to me, was magic. The trail wound up the side of the mountain on one side as our gazes were drawn across the creek and up the mountain on the other side. Long strips of silvery light glittered down the mountain, one after another, to spill into the creek. The bright blue sky graced the jagged mountain top, adding to the sense of glory I felt. This was Grande Jean, Grand John, the first of the Sawtooth peaks to be seen coming from the southwest.  My heart beat fast and furiously, and I knew absolute happiness. This has always been my favorite trail to follow- even when I rode a nasty mare one time and led the group myself. The unique, fresh, crisp smell of the Wilderness stirs the blood and promises a great adventure. The vanilla scent of the Ponderosa Pine subtly tinged with sage, mingled with the pine tar, sodden leaves and needles on the forest floor, to smack of a purity rarely enjoyed by the senses anywhere else that I’ve ever been. Up and onward we wound, with the sunlight warming us after each visit to the shadowy side of the trail. Riding through the trees, I felt the earth’s great secrets were being shared with me alone. My private place in paradise.   Lovely and delicate wild flowers dotted the hillside, sometimes in such number that their sweet fragrance stood on its own.

As we rode, we sang and yodeled, enjoying the many echoes coming from different, mysterious places.  If we begged enough, Dad would sing the Old Army Songs – really goofy songs that we never heard as often as we liked. For example: “I was looking through the knothole in great granddaddy’s leg, asked him why they built the shore so near the ocean, the ocean. A snake’s belt slips because he has no hips and his necktie’s the same as his waistline, his waistline.” and “The girls in the

Army, they say are mighty fine, most are over 80, the rest are under nine, I don’t want no more of Army life but gee Mom I wanta go, but they won’t let me go, gee Mom I wanta go home, the coffee in the Army they say is mighty fine, looks like muddy water, tastes like iodine, I don’t want no more of Army life but gee Mom I wanta go, but they won’t let me go, gee Mom I wanta go home.” The ditties were mostly saved for road trips and camping. Yes, we were one of those families who sang along with Dad, tooling down the highway. So we selfishly shared our songs and yodels with the wilderness and whoever else might be on the trail. I wondered about that a time or two. Sometimes I tried to act as though I were not really part of the group which was pretty hard to do, bringing up the rear on a trail ride.

As the trailed climbed higher, we rode out of the trees, scaling the side of the granite peak above the tree-line. There was one ticklish spot where the trail actually crossed over the water at the top of one of those glistening waterfalls. The shallow but MBHeader2-e1366299907810wildly flowing water spilled off the edge of the mountain almost at our feet. The sound was powerful and hallowed.   My breath was taken away.  I felt as though I could see forever, not just distance but also in time. Nothing I have ever seen has held a candle to the purity of this view. The Sawtooths lined up from where we stood and marched on as far as the eye could see. I had never known the color blue until this moment. I have tried to find the perfect word for this blue and it has escaped me. Just know that it was deep yet clear at the same time. It was practically crystalline in its gleaming.

As we looked down the mountain, we saw Little Baron Lake, a jewel to match the sky, mirroring everything around it. Down we went, traversing the hillside, to park and have a picnic of peanut butter sandwiches on the greenest grass I had ever seen. We tied the horses to the trees and sat beside the glacier that fed the lake with the clearest water this side of heaven. You could see through the water of the lake way out, its depths distorting memory of measurement. Fallen trees lying on the bottom were as clear as the ones lying next to us in the forest. When I leaned down from a log and put my hand in the water, tiny, silvery fish shot away from me, sparkling dabs of light. The ripples were nearly musical in the bright sunshine. I leaned way over to get a drink and was shocked when the cold, untainted water hit my lips. I had never tasted anything so sweet and clear. I really could taste clear.   It was good. It was a wonderful surprise.  The soft sunlight of early summer played across the water. Little dots of color covered the meadows and mountain sides – the wildflowers were just beginning to bloom. Our hearts were full. We were all laughing and splashing one another, having a truly loving family moment. I will never forget that first ride to Little Baron Lake.

MBUntil Next Time,

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Category: Lifestyle

About the Author ()

Cindy Corwin is the CEO/Owner of Horse Family Magazine and is specifically interested in giving back to equine communities and bringing families closer together in their love of horses.

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  1. Marianne Butterfield says:

    This is so great Muffie. I actually felt like I was on the rides with you. I’m so glad you all got to enjoy Nature and the Beautiful out of doors. Keep this going sweetie. Should write a book so we can share it in our leasure. Love your cousin. Marianne Dorsey King Butterfield. xxoo

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