SO HOW YA’LL coping with this winter’s long dark, dreary and cold days, along with snow and record rainfall? I used to think the majority of folks living here in the Pacific Northwest (and near latitude 47) suffered with the winter blues, as I do, until I spoke with a number of people who actually love this time of year, and even dislike the hot and sunny days of summer — which is my favorite time of year!
It was two years ago last December when I started changing my perception toward the seemingly neverending dark and gloomy days of winter. That’s when my good friend Patty Grice gave a huge boost to my psyche by pointing out we were just a couple weeks away from the shortest day of the year, Dec. 21, and then daylight would start lasting longer — hooray!
That was enough to start a change in my attitude and in turning my winter frown upside down . I thought to myself, “I can do this!” And now I tell myself, warm days and sunshine are just a few weeks away now (or so I hope).
Now if I could just get myself out to ride this winter! There’s not much I dislike more than being cold. I hate it. Yes, I have learned ways to keep my body warm through the use of layers: thermal long underwear, a lined flannel shirt, wearing a warming vest. It has four large pockets in front and four in the back that I put body-sized HotHands in. I also put HotHands toe warmer size in my Bog mud boots and regular size in my gloves.
I’ve got my lined Carhartt overalls, winter jacket, long-length rain slicker that will also cover my saddle and a waterproof hat. To top that off I have my ultra-warm Arctic Horse Insulated Riding Skirt.
So what’s stopping me from riding now? Well, I can barely move when I wear all my cold weather gear, so I have to take some layers off to brush, groom, saddle and put Lacey’s hoof boots on her. And by the time I’m finished I’m exhausted.
Now, I’m laughing at myself for putting silly roadblocks up in my mind to prevent me from riding. Hopefully, I will have ridden before my next column so I can tell you all about it.
Staying dry on winter rides
Speaking of rain, living here in Sequim’s Happy Valley I truly have nothing to complain about. Sherry and Larry Baysinger live with their critters adjacent to Bear Creek in Sol Duc Valley (just west of Lake Crescent off Highway 101). With all the rain the usually small Bear Creek that runs behind their home has become a wide, raging river. They’ve also been dealing with snow and power outages. They’re used to weathering storms, though. They’ve got a good wood heat stove, propane cook stove and kerosene lamps to light their way.
Sherry shared her latest great discovery for keeping dry on winter rides — a rain slicker for equestrians made by Muddy Creek.
“After years of carrying a heavy canvas outback coat in my cantle bag only to get soaking wet clear to my armpits, I had all but given up on staying dry and warm in our rainforest weather.
A few years ago at a ladies ride at Littleton Horse Camp, I noticed one of the gals wearing a long outback-looking coat that had a hood. A hood is something we really need here when the rain is coming sideways and running down your neck. Most outback-style coats only have a cape, no hood. The Muddy Creek slickers are lightweight and actually shed water. Just shake it, the water is gone and it’s bone dry.”
She said the fabric Muddy Creek’s rain gear uses is more comfortable to wear in warm or cool weather than garments made from traditional fabrics like PVC, plastic or oilskin.
“On days when your horse is wet and then needs to stand tied while you do trail work, especially at high elevations where it is cold, it will keep your horse and your saddle warm and dry.”
She also carries a very lightweight down jacket in a Ziploc baggy in her saddle bag. In really cold weather she wears it under her slicker.
“The Muddy Creek by itself is great for breaking the wind and keeping the cold off. It rolls up and fits nicely in my cantle bag and doesn’t add much weight to my horse.”
Muddy Creek coats sell for $209.95, plus tax and shipping (not available on Amazon). She purchased hers online from www.outfitterssupply.com/Muddy-Creek-Rain-Slicker.
She said “it’s worth every penny.”
In my previous column publish January 26 I mentioned various places good to ride in year-round. The lower trail at Mt. Mueller was one, and I thanked BCH volunteers and Clallam County for making the Littleton Horse Camp a reality. BCH Mt. Olympus chapter member Sherry Baysinger wrote to remind me it was actually the Back Country Horsemen of Washington and the United States Forest Service, under the direction of Molly Erickson (now retired) who made the horse camp possible, along with the help of a RAC grant that BCHW attained, through the help of BCH member Marc Reinertson (now deceased) who served on the RAC Committee.
“Presently, we have an excellent USFS Recreational Ranger Gabe Hobson who has spent many hours working on the horse camp and other recreational areas,” said Sherry. “As stated in the Mt Olympus chapter newsletter of accomplishments from last year, the most recent thing that we helped Gabe with was to block illegal access that some firewood thief had made through one of the horse campsites. Thanks to Gabe this didn’t go unnoticed for too long.”
On Feb. 18, Tuesday, at 6 p.m. is Mt Olympus’ next chapter meeting. It will include a slide presentation of the work projects the group completed in 2019. Located at 90 Old State Road in Port Angeles. For more information contact Meghan Adamire at 360-460-0882 or [email protected]
At Robin Hill Farm Park, Hannah Merrill wrote to let me know the horse trailer parking is located off Dryke Road, and not Pinnell Road. She’s going to make that clearer on the website as well.
When I wrote about Miller Peninsula as being an excellent place for winter riding I mistakenly mentioned accessing the beach at Thompson Spit. The Beach Access Trail is the way to the beach, and it ends abruptly on the rocky beach. It’s located between Rocky Point and Thompson Spit.
Thompson Spit is actually private property owned by the Douglas family since 1948. Its located just past the North East end of Miller Peninsula State Park near the Diamond Point airport. I myself, nor anyone I know, has attempted to ride on the beach up to their property due to the extremely rock beach. If anyone, be it by horse or by foot, does attempt it know there are signs in place to warn it is private land, so no trespassing.
Trail maps of the area can be seen at the Miller Peninsula parking lot and trail head. There’s also a nice equestrian trail, called Bluff Trail, located to the west just before the Beach Access trail that loops back from the Beach Access trail to the parking lot.
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.