Back Country Horsemen’s Peninsula chapter members took part in their annual Miller Peninsula “Rhody Ride,” timed when all the Rhododendrons are in full bloom. (Linda Morin)

Back Country Horsemen’s Peninsula chapter members took part in their annual Miller Peninsula “Rhody Ride,” timed when all the Rhododendrons are in full bloom. (Linda Morin)

HORSEPLAY: Getting back in the saddle

RIDING THROUGH OUR local forests, experiencing the glorious sights and sounds of nature, fills me with both joy and inner peace.

Sadly, I’ve had too much going on these past few years to ride much at all, let alone go for a good trail ride.

So it was with eager anticipation that I looked forward to joining the Peninsula Chapter of Back Country Horsemen on its June 16 Dan Kelly Ride.

Those rides are always fun and enjoyable, and not too strenuous for a horse and rider (in this case Lacey and myself) who aren’t in good physical condition.

Prior to the ride I’d hoped to clean my horse trailer inside and out.

Because it’s mostly sat unused for the past two years it’s quite filthy.

Of late I’ve been struggling with overwhelmingly low energy, likely due to grieving the recent loss of my mother and my multiple sclerosis.

With MS, any stress causes an adverse physical reaction, and because I’ve been under a ton of stress these past few years of caregiving for my mother my energy is at an all-time low.

The good news is I now have time to rest so gradually my energy will, hopefully, bounce back.

The downside is that I didn’t have the energy to clean my trailer. In fact I didn’t think I’d be able to make the ride at all.

Happily, when I woke up last Saturday I was able to push myself out the door and get Lacey ready to ride.

Bird’s nest

Imagine my surprise on opening the trailer door to discover some sort of muddy nest plastered against the front sidewall.

Thinking it was a wasp nest I went and grabbed a can of wasp spray, but when I stepped in for a closer look I discovered it was actually a bird’s nest.

Oh no. I didn’t know what to do.

I didn’t want to disturb the nest, but I’ve waited a long time for this day and I wanted to go.

Without looking inside the nest I decided just to load Lacey up, putting her in a different stall, and go.

On arrival at the trailhead I told Kris and Ken Phillips about the nest.

Ken was tall enough to peer inside the nest, where he saw three very young barn swallows clamoring for food.

In set Kris’ mothering instinct and she set about taking tiny little crumbs from a sweet role and putting food in their mouths.

And then we rode, nine of us in all.

I partnered with Linda Morin and on the loop back we were joined by Tom Mix.

It was a wonderful two-hour ride through the trees.

When I got back to the trailer and discovered the babies still alive I immediately left for home.

There were two very worried barn swallows waiting for me.

As soon as I unloaded Lacey they flew in and out of the trailer to feed.

I’m happy to share the babies are still thriving.

Park bridges

Mix and Del Sage are considered the “rigging crew extraordinaires” when it comes to building bridges, for both human and horses, in our local forests.

Because the Olympic National Parks and Forest trail maintenance services are underfunded, and power equipment other than chain saws aren’t allowed, their expertise in using block, tackle and rope rigging is invaluable when it comes to replacing existing failing bridges.

Of course they don’t work alone. Additional volunteers also help to clear and maintain trails.

Most folks don’t realize that without this volunteer help many of these trails would quickly become unusable.

Studies have shown the adverse impact on the forests when folks start making their own trails and find ways to cross over the rivers.

Still, it takes money to pay for needed materials.

So Mix has taken it on himself to apply for grants so the Peninsula Chapter can spearhead such endeavors.

He said the chapter currently has three two-year rail maintenance and infrastructure grants they are managing: two from Olympic Peninsula Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) and one from state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO).

The RAC grants projects are to place five privies in heavily overused back country camping areas and replace up to 7-foot logs that have or are failing and need replacing.

That list is:

• South Fork Skokomish footlog (Lower crossing) — Mason County, length 70 feet, fir

• South Fork Skokomish footlog (Upper crossing) — Mason County, length 50 feet, fir

• Gold Creek Trail footlog — Clallam County, length 30 feet, windfall cedar

• Lena Lake Trail footlog — Mason County, length 40 feet, windfall cedar

• Slab Camp Trail bridge — Clallam County, length 45 feet

• Sutherland Creek footbridge, lower Gray Wolf Trail — Clallam County, length 25 feet

• Slide Creek foot log, upper Gray Wolf Trail — Clallam County, length 25 feet

Mix said they’ve been notified that the Gold Creek foot log has been approved and that the Slab Camp bridge is about to be approved.

The Lena Lake foot log has been removed by the USFS with no current plans to replace it in their attempt to discourage user access.

The Travel Management Plan for the Olympic National Forest lists the 2860 road above Tubal Cain for closure in order to attempt to discourage user access to the Silver Lakes area.

The 2860 road where it joins the 2870 is listed for closure even though the USFS built a new parking area and trailhead for Gold Creek trail about 1.7 miles down the 2860 line.

That road provides user access to Gold Creek and Lower Dungeness trails.

“The RCO grant helps us maintain trails on Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest and Washington State Park managed lands,” Mix said.

“We have several focused projects planned for this and next year along with our usual and customary trail maintenance efforts. We accomplish other trail maintenance on Department of Natural Resources, Land Trust, County and the Olympic Discovery Trail.

“We help USFS staff remove hazard trees near trailheads and back country campgrounds.”

As for the USFS National Saw Policy, Mix said, “Over seven years ago we entered into a pilot program to instruct, evaluate and certify both USFS and volunteer sawyers operating chain or crosscut saws for bucking operations.”

As such they do not instruct, evaluate nor certify for felling. That initial effort enabled the chapter to further its program.

The newly adopted USFS National Saw Policy provides for volunteer groups to apply for and receive authorization to self certify their sawyers. The Chapter’s application packet was reviewed and approved at the USFS Region 6 level and presented at the National level. BCHW was the very first volunteer organization to gain national authorization to operate their own program.

That happened about a little more than one year ago.

“Of the 30 plus chapters in BCHW about 20 have active sawyers who have all been certified by us,” Mix said.

“We have two Saw Program coordinators, about 35 instructors/evaluators and have about 140 current active sawyers.

“Our program application and our internal reliable methods and processes are now being used by other volunteer groups as the basis for their saw program application in their effort to gain authorization to certify their own members.

“We are coaching EMBA (Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance) and WSSA (Washington State Snowmobile Association) as they assemble their program application.

“BCHO (Oregon) recently received their program authorization as did WTA and PCTA.”


• Patterned Speed Horse Association game show — today and July 7-8, 9:30 a.m. start at Quarter Moon Ranch, 383 W. Runnion Road, Carlsborg.

Contact Waynora Martin at 360-683-6902 for more information.

• Olympic Peninsula Equine Network’s Fun-raiser Dinner Dance & Auction — Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Fox Bell Farm, 37 N. Barr Road in Agnew.

Tickets cost $55 per person, includes good food and dancing to the music of the Buck Ellard Band. Beer and wine will be available.

For more information, call Mike Vallancourt at 714-222-0755 or golden [email protected]

• Pattermed Speed Horse Association game show — 10 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday, July 1, at Crosby’s arena, 122 Fransom Road, Agnew.

Contact Pam Crosby at 360-670-3906 or [email protected]

• Back Country Horsemen Peninsula Chapter annual meeting and president’s party — 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14 at Dan and Debbi Dosey’s home, 3974 Palo Alto Road, Sequim.

• Back Country Horsemen Olympus Chapter Bogachiel ride — 10 a.m. rideout July 28.

Contact Larry or Sherry Baysinger at 360-327-3611 for more information.

• Back Country Horsemen Peninsula Chapter ride — 10 a.m. rideout Aug. 11 at Margaret Salstrom’s Ranch, 278 Dunmire Road, Joyce.

Contact Linda Morin at 360-775-5060 for more information.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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