Sunday, September 10, 2017

Okay, just one more!

The Icelandic horses were just so awesome!!!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Nature at it's best

I am so incredibly lucky to live close to two huge parks with miles and miles of trails.  Labor Day weekend I headed out after a big dinner to walk it off with a sunset hike at Kensington.  I found my zen.

The trail head.

A bridge over troubled waters? There was peace on the other side!

Loved the way this tree arched over the path to create a tunnel.

It was very sunny to the west and very cloudy to the east so the sun played some cool tricks with the lighting.

This little cardinal was cheeping like crazy making it easy to find him.

One of MANY Sandhill cranes that I encountered on my route. They were quite the noisy bunch.

Breathtaking vistas!

Another of my big buddies.  This one was fighting with another and almost ran me over!

The black dot in the middle is a hot air balloon.  One of several that were out there.

Little family of swans.

No idea what kind of bird this is but he sat very still in this spot for a long time.  I cam back to this spot about an hour after I took this picture and he was still there.

Same bird later on.

Wild mustard is blooming like mad right now.  Some of the trees are starting to change too.

This old farm implement is in the middle of the woods.  No idea why - the sign near it is gone.  Just struck me kind of funny.

One of the sandhill cranes that was in my way and really in no big hurry to move out of it, either!

Sun hitting the trees in the distance.

Lonely little duck swimming by while I was waiting for the sunset and relaxing.

I saw a family staring down over the side of the bridge for a while so I took a look. Some HUGE fish down there!

And it was worth the wait.  Fabulous.

And in the process I got myself a good 5 miles of walking in for the day on top of the riding I did with Mata Hari earlier.  Happy day!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Iceland! Last one.

The last day of the Golden Circle Riding Adventure in Iceland is really something special.  We trailered the horses out to the Atlantic ocean to the black volcanic sand beach. There we mounted up to ride the beach, the marshlands, and then through the pastures of horses back to the farm.

The highlight of the beach ride is getting to gallop along the sand. The horses love it and want to race each other and the wind. You feel like you are flying.  Its totally exhilarating!

Our Wild Women group - AKA Wild Bunch of Bitches!

While we often rode nose to tail on the trails, getting out to the beach was a different story!  We asked about those concrete things on the right and apparently they were put there to help stop erosion.

Apparently its very rare to be able to see the glaciers from this beach but we obviously had pristine weather conditions.  It was still early and cool when we arrived but by the end of the day I was riding in a long sleeve t-shirt and was quite hot. I think this is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Taken by our Polish guide, Paula.  She was everywhere this day!

She included herself in this shot!

Sara with her two extra horses in tow.  Interestingly, the Icelandic horses love to ride the beaches but they do NOT like the waves.  They will walk through still water all day (and we did!) and rivers aren't a problem but salty waves...nope.

Paula being silly on the beach! I'm sure she got wet!

Heading into the marshes. We walked for miles through water!

Sometimes it was more water than grass. But also so pretty.

Another of Paula's pictures since I'm in it also taking a picture just up ahead with our Michigan pal brining up the rear with me.

Lunch break!

An old cemetery where we stopped for the horses to graze.

Almost back to the farm.  We rode through pastures of hundreds of horses.  Some came up to visit, others just ignored us.  The farm has 400 horses at any one time with about 100 of them used for trail rides.  The others are too young or too old.  They don't start using them for guests until they are about 10 years old.  Most of them live to about 40 years old.

Jill took this picture of her favorite horse.  He has specks of blue and gold in his eyes - very unusual.

I think Jill took this video but that's me in the purple coat.

So long Wild Women!  It was fabulous beyond my wildest imagination!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Iceland! Part 4

Once again, not really in any particular order other than these are not from the last day or the first couple days.  You can tell by the sunshine! LOL!

This was a little corral we were able to use for a few hours while we hiked up to a "hot river" - pictures coming soon.

A lunch stop one day.

Nothing like stopping in someone's freshly mowed hay field for a snack!

This is an area where the water coming down this mountain is scalding hot from geo thermal springs.

Fore!  I saw three golf courses in Iceland. Who knew?  We rode right past this one.

This area very recently started popping open with steam coming out of earth. Each little earthquake changes the landscape where some close, and new ones open.  It scalds the earth around them.

I lied.  I think this is from one of the first days and was one of the more treacherous sections we transversed. You can see a few horses being walked way down the trail in about the middle of the picture.  It was quite steep to get to where they are.

The moss in the foreground covers boulders.  It only looks soft.

This particular part of the trail wasn't an especially steep drop off to the side but some of them sure were.

Sometimes the rock would be round and smooth and other times very craggy like this.

The second rainbow of the trip.  This is looking out from the "lodge" we stayed in for two nights.

The horses at sunset. Some still grazing, others starting to doze.  No shelters winter or summer.  Tough little beasts.

And cute as they come with WILD manes and forelocks!

The one morning the van picked us up at the bunk house and delivered us here where the horses had been dropped off earlier.  Grooming often meant picking up a lava rock and using it to curry the horse!  Not once did we pick their feet.

Another break somewhere.  This one took some hiking to find a bathroom spot!

The water running into this lake head was filtered through miles of volcanic rock and was just crystal clear.

This man was standing on a rock a few feet out fishing.  At first I thought he was doing yoga or something.

Back at the lodge looking out the windows towards the horses and mountains.

We had a couple of amazing sunsets while we stayed in the lodge.  Fire sky.

Rachel and her mom, Vicki. Our Michigan compadres.

The table and kitchen in the lodge.  Our cook is in the back.  Two burners and a sink and 17 people to feed.  I have no idea how she did it.

The front porch of the lodge.

The bathroom had a flush toilet but was a definite add on to the building!  The odd thing was that we had no electric inside...

Rachel holding a few ponies while we stopped for lunch.  We always took their saddles off at lunch and then we would all switch horses so every day we rode 2-3 different horses. Since going to the bathroom often meant a hike, we'd leave a few people holding multiple horses to take turns.

I think this was the second to last day. We just rode along a very deserted road until the truck and horse trailer found us!  We stopped in front of someone's farm and loaded them all up while we waited for the van to pick us up.  In the meantime, the truck left us a box of snacks and drinks so we hung out in the grass until they came.  This was our fourth day without a shower so we were all looking a bit rough and VERY ready to get back to the farm for some hot water.  At this point we were all negotiating who got to go first in the two showers we had back there.

Another grazing stop.  The pens on the right are for sheep sorting.

This sign tells about Rekjadalur which is the hot river created by one river of boiling hot water heated by a volcano and one river of cold water from the glacier.  It filters together to create a 100 degree "hot tub" of a river!

It was about 5 miles from the parking area and sign to the actual creek. We had to walk the first part with the horses up this steep incline over the first mountain.

Then we got to ride some of it but it was still very steep. You can see Annie's butt coming off the saddle as she leaned forward to make it easier on her horse.

As we got up higher you could see back to the ocean in the distance.

This is the hot part of the river steaming up into the sky.

And then it was lunch and bathing time!  There was really no place to change into bathing suits so when in Iceland...strip quick!  We were lucky to have a beautiful day of about 60 degrees which sounds cold but was really very nice.

There was a bit of a boardwalk built along the sides but most of it was quite rustic with no "danger" signs like you'd see in the USA.
That's me in the middle in the lighter blue bathing suit top.

Riding back down from the hot river.  Felt bad for the people who had to hike the whole distance.
Some of what we had to hike was bad enough!

Back at the lodge...

I'm not sure whose feet these were but a few unlucky ladies ended  up in the loft where it was rather warm and a rough climb down if you had to go to the bathroom.

Some of the Wild Women at cocktail hour after a long day of riding.

The lower level bunks - one big happy sleeping like hot dogs!

This is one of our Texans. You can see the roof of the barn from the lodge down below. We hiked  up here for the view and found the moss to be like a memory foam mattress!

Don't let the coffee cup deceive you.  I think it had wine in it!

Our little lodge hut.  Sure didn't look like much but it was cozy and we had a great time there.  It was much like a big girls slumber party!

This is Paula, one of our guides from Poland.  This was her last trip with the farm and she was such a jewel of a young woman!

Oops.  This one should have been on the waterfall day.  We were all so silly!

And back to the hot river!  It sounds crazy but you almost couldn't sit in the deeper water or it was too hot!

 Literally see for miles and miles.

This is walking down the trail to the hot river.  We passed several pools of BOILING water.  Literally bubbling and boiling with simple signs saying, "Hot. Water is 200 celcius." Just a rope to suggest keeping away from it.

 No idea where we were or why this cross was in the middle of nowhere.

A good picture of the glacier in the distance.  We could often see them but it would blend into the sky and clouds in the pictures.