August 2, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Trip to Pagosa

'For us, Pagosa Springs is a trail ride destination close to heaven.'

By Susie Morgan

Hoof Prints in Santa Fe

Susie Morgan is a lifetime lover of horses, the outdoors and lives for adventures. She lives in Las Campanas, and is reconnecting with horses after working 27 years in New York City.

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Most people think of Skiing at Wolf Creek or the famous Pagosa Hot Springs.  For us, Pagosa Springs is a trail ride destination close to heaven.  

From Santa Fe, this is a 3 hour easy haul to the Rocky Mountains.  The people at Diamond Hitch Stables rented us box stalls with runs for the duration of our stay.  While they have great trails leaving right from the stables, there is much to explore around Pagosa Springs.

This time, 10 of us went, so we rented three log cabins most of which have 2 bedrooms/2 bath, fully-stocked kitchens and a washer/dryer. The past 2 trips, we have promised ourselves that we would barbecue steaks at the cabins one evening.  Somehow, we always wind up sitting around the cabins for a great rehashing of the days ride–après ride chatter with wine–and end up going out to eat. This trip was no different.

Three days of trails were planned:  a shorter one the first day to work out any kinks, the longest one the second day, and a moderate ride day 3.  All of our trails had been pre-run and checked out by Beth Longanecker, who puts these trips together.  She made two recon trips up in the spring so she would know what to expect.

Day 1
We rode Turkey Springs in the national forest.  It was beautiful lush meadows and tall pines–a nice change from the parched earth we have been experiencing here in Santa Fe.  Everyone did well including the 4 year-old percheron/standardbred cross who was out for his first major group outing, and the rookie rider with less than 5 trail rides under his belt.  The days were warm, but we could count on the afternoon mountain showers to cool things off.

Day 2
We staged at the Blanco River trail head and rode Blanco Trail Upper River down to and across the Blanco River where we stopped for lunch.  This trail was single track or jeep roads with several ups and downs leading to the river crossing.  The Blanco River at this time of year is fast moving and about 30 feet wide.  It had taken us 2 hours to reach the river crossing and the horses were very happy to have a drink of cold water.  Lunch was a shorter stop than planned.  When we began to hear the thunder rolling in, we quickly packed up our belongings, trash, tightened cinches, and put on slickers for the return trip.   This was the afternoon we planned to visit to Out West Saddlery, so we were clicking right along on the way home.

Day 3
We rode Fawn Gulch about 20 minutes outside of Pagosa Springs.  This was our steepest climb of the trip that also provided the most stunning vista views. This day was primarily single track and switchbacks.  The climb opened up on a beautiful meadow where we stopped for lunch tying the horses to pine trees in the shade.  We looped back down the other side of the mountain to return to the trailers.

The last morning was supposed to be Wheels Up.  But we were having so much fun that we gave our horses the morning off and rented horses from Diamond Hitch for a cruise around the stables trails.  It was the most beautiful morning of our stay.  On the way home, we compared calendars to see if we could pull this off again this summer.

http://www.outwestsaddlery.com/ 1-800-863-6405 . E-mail: terri@outwestsaddlery.com

http://www.hartlandranch.com/   Call Angie 866-377-1115  Or Email hartlandranch@centurytel.net 

Beth Longanecker – Sunset Trails Ranch 505-930-1989

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