Saturday, January 31, 2009
As Dangerous explains it to me, the Colorado Plateau is a huge area including parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. I never know what state we are in, but I can usually tell the difference between red rock canyons and high mountain country. The red rocks offer lots of lizards and rabbits to chase while marmots are plentiful in the high country. Actually, I enjoy the hunt but watch from a distance when Blue and Sadie corner a marmot. Dangerous has told me about the time he pulled a "Rock Chuck" off his dog Abbey's face. I came along right at the end of Abbey's life, and I can tell you first hand that she wasn't afraid of anything on two or four legs. Even in old age, she use to kick my butt regularly.
We don't ride the Hightop every year, but we make the ride often enough that I know the trail pretty well. I understand that in the past Dangerous and his buddies would camp at the trail head because it is 60 miles from the Home Place. They are a lot older now, so they usually get up early and drive over to ride for the day. Those soft beds at the cabin are a lot more comfortable than a night on the hard ground for aging riders.
I like the Hightop because there's lots of water, and as you probably know, Aussies really like to get wet. I get to start the ride with a dip in Lost Creek Reservoir, and there are plenty of wet spots and streams along the way to quench my thirst. The trail also gives me lots of opportunity to sound the alarm when I run into elk and deer. Frequently, I get to set turkeys or blue grouse flying all directions. It's fun for me, and if I time it right, I can flush one right in front of Dottie. You ought to see old Dangerous try to get Dottie under control after a wild turkey flies over her head beating its wings to gain altitude.
Dangerous and his buddies like the wildlife, but I think what really attracts them is the solitude and long views. They tell me that they have never seen anyone while riding the fifteen miles across the top. I don't understand it, but they stop regularly and gaze toward the distant horizon. Since they are riding at over 11,600 feet, they have long views in every direction. On a clear day, they can see Mt. Timpanogos which is about 150 miles away as the crow flies.
Summer comes late to the Hightop. After a good winter, we have to wait until late June or early July to ride the trail. However, as you can see from the pictures, it is beautiful with tall grass and wildflowers. Even in June and July, you take your coat, or I should say Dangerous and his buddies take theirs. I am never without mine. At that altitude, you never know when a storm will roll in, and a summer storm on the Hightop can bring sleet.
There are plenty of places to stop for lunch. As you can see, Utah Jack and Fremont Bob are sitting under a tree taking needed nourishment. Just out of sight me and my dog buddies are cruising about hoping for a treat. Treats are usually rare when you are competing with Utah Jack and Fremont Bob for lunch. They have little problem emptying the saddlebags, but occasionally, they will throw us dogs a scrap or two.
I think the horses and mules even enjoy this ride. In the second picture, you can almost see the contended look on Ernest's face. Ernest the mule appears to be enjoying himself as Fremont Bob steers him through a meadow full of green grass and wildflowers. Like all mules, Ernest isn't interested in the scenery but is thinking great philosophical thoughts and hoping to fill his belly on the tender spring grass.
If you ride this trail oneway, you have to come down the Tasha Trail. While beautiful, it is steep and rocky. When the pictures were taken, Dottie was a young filly with only a few rides on her. She was born and raised in St. George, Utah, and had only seen water in a trough. It was great fun to watch Dangerous get her across some of those stream crossings. Even today, she doesn't like muddy water or black sucking mud. I don't know why. Sheep dogs like nothing better than a muddy roll from head to tail.
Well, I thought you might enjoy learning about one of my favorite trails. I have lots of them that I plan to share with you in the future. As always, I am interested in what you think, so drop me a comment or two.