IT WAS A typical rainy day in June when I attended the Backcountry Horsemen dedication ceremony for the completed trailhead and parking lot off Dan Kelly Road.
Backcountry Horsemen’s Peninsula Chapter was given the OK in 2011 to build a new trailhead and large parking area for the Adventure Route of the Olympic Discovery Trail west of Port Angeles.
The land is on a county-leased Department of Natural Resources easement under the Bonneville Power Administration power lines off Dan Kelly Road, about a third of a mile from the trail.
During the ceremony, chapter President Cate Bendock gave a brief history of the work and volunteerism involved.
Mike Chapman, one of the three Clallam County commissioners, was also at the dedication, which included Boy Scouts and other volunteer organizations that helped build and support the effort, but, as Chapman noted, “the main people that took on the project were the Backcountry Horsemen.”
He commended the group for building such a large, quality parking lot with ample room for multiple trucks and trailers, not only to park but to have room to turn around it.
“The government just doesn’t have the money right now to build new parking areas or structures, so this project, and others like it, wouldn’t happen at all without organizations like Backcountry Horsemen and local businesses such as DelHur donating gravel and use of equipment,” Chapman said.
“These are just wonderful organizations that open up the area and make it easier to access trails for everyone, not just equestrians.”
He mentioned the parking area also took care of a safety concern because “otherwise people would be parking alongside the roads unloading their horses, which could be hazardous.”
From the parking lot, the trail goes on for 20-plus miles, eventually connecting to Olympic National Park’s Spruce Railroad Trail around Lake Crescent.
Other trail users include bicyclists, hikers, runners and even those packing with their llamas.
BCH member Kat Sample was there, and after the ceremony, rode her horse on the trail while her husband hiked and led their mule, along with another friend leading a mini-horse.
A bit after the ceremony, I took off alone on the trail.
Then Indy spooked and snorted at the sight and smell of that mule coming toward us.
I was able to backtrack a bit and move Indy off the trail while they passed.
Once we resumed, I could not get Indy to move past the spot where he first spied the mule.
As I struggled with Indy spinning in circles and backing fast away, the voice of reason came in my head advising me: “Hey, you’re along on this trail and don’t want to get hurt, so just wait for Cate and the others to catch up.”
Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, Cate, Beth Blay and Kris Phillips — who were delayed by cleaning up after the ceremony — came upon us, and Indy had no problem following their horses past that “spooky” spot.
I had fun talking with and getting to know them.
When I noticed all their horses wore halters under their bridles Kris joked: “We don’t want any haltercations,” putting a horse spin on the word altercations.
Dave and Becky Seibel were also there.
They are opening their ranch and beautiful trails to the public Friday, July 5, through Sunday, July 7, when they host “On the Trail Clinic” with Rick and Kitty Lauman.
Events include trails open for riding, private lessons on the trail or in their covered arena and how to deal with obstacles and spooking on the trail.
Spirit Horse Ranch is located at 207 Mountain Valley Lane outside Port Angeles.
“We only open our trails to the public twice a year, but you have to sign up with the clinic to camp and or ride the trails,” Dave said.
Phone him for more information at 360-640-9472 or visit the website www.laumantraining.com.
Saturday and Sunday, July 6 and 7 — Olympic Peninsula Zone Star Spangled Horse Show at the Clallam County Fairgrounds.
Judges are Tammy Call-Jones, Pattie Burns Steward and Loris Gies.
Ride all day or weekend for a flat fee. Contact Kyle Ellis at 360-461-0006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 11-13 — Jefferson County 4-H Horse Program’s annual Horse Camp at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
Open to the public for those from age 8 and in third grade to adult.
The camp consists of three days of lessons in a choice of English, dressage, Western, trail, bareback, gaming and showmanship that will be scheduled throughout each day with multiple instructors specializing in each discipline.
Classes will be divided up by riding ability from beginner to advanced.
Organizers asked that entries be postmarked (with payment included) by Wednesday (July 3).
A mandatory meeting will be held Wednesday, July 10, at 6 p.m. for participants to receive their schedules, rules and guidelines.
For more information or registration forms, phone Tanya Schweitzer at 360-301-3559.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Wednesday.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at email@example.com at least two weeks in advance.
You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.