At about 2:30, my camp neighbors (the Sherriff’s Posse members from Colorado) asked if I wanted to join them for a short trail ride along French Creek. They had pulled out a trail map, and guessed that we could take a relaxing ride on the French Creek Trail Loop. Scott, the cowboy poet and amazing campfire cook, was staying back at camp and making pork chops and biscuits, and told us to be back by 7 for supper.
So Allan, John, Andrea and I saddled up and off we went.
Wildlife encounter on the French Creek Trail
The signs for Fisherman's Flat and the Rimrock Trail
Rimrock Trail was a nice two-track, so we were able to long-trot and lope.
Losing daylight...the Rimrock Trail is through the area affected by the Legion Lake Fire.
Riding with our spotlights-good thing Zeb packed the trailer for me so I'd be prepared for anything!
The French Creek Trail is beautiful. The terrain varied, with some rocky hills, and lots of criss-crossing over the creek.
About an hour and a half into our ride, we came up a group trail riding, a Dad, two little girls about ages 4 and 8, and their Uncle. The older girl was adorable and riding a big buckskin mare, as we passed, she told all of us “My horse’s name is Lena!”
The Dad asked us how much farther back to camp, and we told him about an hour and a half. He asked us if we made it back to camp before them, to let his wife know that they were fine, this was just taking longer than they had thought. We agreed, and continued on our way.
The trail curved away from French Creek and up a ridge. We made it up to Fisherman’s Flats after a pretty hard ride up some very steep, rocky hills. We rested our horses at the top, and checked the map. We were very quickly running out of daylight.
“Maps should really have scales!” John said for at least the 5th time, as he figured the quickest route back to camp would be to take the Rimrock Trail.
The good news is that the Rimrock Trail is a wide two track, so we were able to long-trot and even lope in places. Allan, John, and Andrea were really fun to ride with, and our horses were all well-trained. It was really nice to be able to go on a ride where you didn’t have to worry about the other riders, and where we could all take turns leading. We made it back to camp about 7:30 pm (we were late for supper!) As soon as we came into camp, a truck pulled up and asked if we had passed a group riding with two little girls.
“Yes, hours ago,” John told them. “They haven’t made it back yet?”
“No, they haven’t. Their Mama is pretty worried. We have some people on foot and ATVs out looking already.” The man in the truck told us.
We all looked at each other as we walked back to our campsite. After a minute, Andrea and John both said at about the same time, “We’re going back out to help.” They were Sherriff’s Posse members, after all!
“I have some spot lights in my trailer, I’ll grab them and come with.” I added. Zeb really had made sure I was prepared for anything!
Allan’s horse was pretty tired, so he was going to stay at camp. We told Scott what was going on as we grabbed spot lights, then John, Andrea and I headed back out down the trail. By this time, all the daylight was gone, so we were riding by our spotlights.
After about half an hour of riding, we caught up with group, we weren’t very far behind the first search group that went out on foot. Everyone was fine, just really tired. One of the girl’s horse’s had gone lame on the trail, which was what was delayed their return. Once we got to a point where the Ranger’s truck could meet the group, the girls and the search party that came on foot rode the trucks back to camp. Andrea ponied Lena, the older girl’s buckskin mare, and I lead the way with the spot light. As we got into camp, the Dad got a phone call. After a minute, he said, “Can I call you back? We are just getting into camp...yeah, it’s really late. We had some problems. Well, I didn’t really want to use the word rescued, but...we had to be rescued.”
I couldn’t help but laugh a little at that. They would have made it back to camp just fine, but I am glad that we went out to help. I don’t think any of us would have felt ok, sitting back at camp, knowing that two little girls were still out there in the dark.
I was pretty proud of Breezy too, he never balked or faltered, even though he had a really big day! By the time we unsaddled and took care of our horses, it was about 9pm. I figured he had about 11 hours of riding total that day!
And to be totally honest, I was pretty sore after such a long day in the saddle! It was really nice to take a seat at the campfire with my new friends and enjoy the amazing porkchops, sweet potato fries and biscuits that Scott made, swapping stories about our horse adventures. It was a great end to an awesome day!