Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Rose and Dangerous

I wasn't there for this one, so I have to turn the narrative over to Rose the Horse who was an unwilling participant. I rarely trust Dangerous' stories when he relates them after the fact, but I do trust Rose's unvarnished version of the truth. So here's her story about climbing and sliding down Canaan Mountain. It almost sounds biblical doesn't it?

Mule riders are a diverse and somewhat crazy bunch who usually share one common trait. They don't fear death from tumbling off a ledge or cliff. Frequently, their unusual courage comes from a bottle containing the beverage of their choice. Dangerous always thought that Dan was the rare mule man who didn't drink nor use bad language. Because Dan doesn't imbibe and is an incredibly nice guy, Dangerous has always thought he was like the rest of us who fear imminent death. Well, all that changed when Dan showed us the Canaan Mountain trail last Saturday.

Dan and Frank

Canaan Mountain is located a bit east of Hildale, Utah on the Utah-Arizona border. Hildale is famous for the fundamentalist polygamist sect that resides there. In fact, you get to drive past the infamous Warren Jeff's high walled compound to reach the trail head.

As Dan described it, the trail to the top was fairly easy. All you had to do was follow an illegal ATV trail probably pioneered through a wilderness study area by the polygamist kids living in the area. Well, you can imagine Dangerous' chagrin to be riding an ATV trail. According to Dan's description there were a few steep spots on the the trail with some rocky steps that a horse could easily negotiate. He also mentioned a bit of exposure, but once on top the views were worth the trip. Our goal was to circumnavigate the Bee Hive coming down a steep, rocky horse trail on the other side where you might want to get off and lead your horse a short distance.

The Bee Hive

Dangerous has always believed that riding an ATV trail was beneath his dignity. These trails are usually wide and dusty, presenting few challenges to a horse and rider. Well, after riding the Canaan Mountain trail Dangerous has a new appreciation for the foolhardiness of some ATV riders. In his opinion, whoever built this illegal trail was completely insane and made most mule riders appear normal. While I churned my way to the top with Dangerous on my back I could sense an unusual pucker in a certain part of his anatomy all the way through my saddle. Even I experienced real fear when Balthazar fell down in front of me with Bill aboard while trying to climb a steep, slick rock spot. Seeing a 17 hand, 1,100 pound horse spreadeagled on a precipice made me pick my steps more carefully.

Canaan Mountain Trail

Pictures rarely tell the complete story, but this one gives you some sense of the exposure and elevation gain on this trail. It wasn't quite the Grand Canyon, but I suspect the Grand Canyon trail is much easier and safer for a horse or mule to negotiate. With all the steep rocky spots, Dangerous had little time to take pictures, and I wasn't about to stop on a cliff or ledge to give him a good photo opportunity.

The Top

A Well Earned Rest

Reaching the top is usually the hard part of any ride, but not this time. After a short lunch break we had to get back down. That short quarter mile stretch that Dan described where the rider might want to get off and walk turned into a real scramble for both horse and rider. Again, the pictures don't do the decent justice. All I can tell you is that Dangerous tied my reins around my neck and turned me loose to find my own way down. He was willing to risk losing me after I ran up the back of his legs a bunch of times and almost knocked him off the cliff. For the same reasons, Bill did the same thing with Balthazar and fortunately we all made it to the bottom safely.

Exit Trail

Well, we plan to continue riding with Dan but in the future we will ask for more details about the trails he selects. But, for now, how can you not like a guy who names all his mules Frank, and has a sign like this one on the side of his trailer even though he tried to kill us. Love to hear from you!

1 comment:

Gloria said...

We wondered where you've been. Didn't know we should have been praying for your safety!!!!!!!