Endurance develops strength of character in us~ Romans 5:4 NLT

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Indian Caves State Park, NE~

The weatherman had promised a sunny day.  I'd heard about Indian Caves State Park - but had thought that it was quite a distance away.  Shannon & I had been trying to get together for a ride for a while now, but we'd been stopped either by snow or cold.
This time, the weather cooperated & we were both excited to get out!  We discussed our meet-up plan & I couldn't find the exit # in Iowa?  No!  It was in Missouri & Shannon actually lives in MO!  :-)
Farah patiently waits~
Butch was up for taking us - he likes to see the new-to-us riding places as much as I do.  It's always a relief to me!  Google maps on my smartphone took us right to where Shannon was already waiting in just over an hour.  From there, we turned west & next thing we knew, we were crossing the state line into Nebraska.  It was a three state day!  By the time we arrived the day was going from wonderfully warm - to almost hot!  We filled out the form at the Ranger Station & wound our way around to the horse area. 
On our way!
Sitting up high on hills, this park is beautiful, with the miles of trails that are lacking most places we've been.  The only disappointment - if you can even call it that - was that the park had just experienced a planned burn.  This must be done to control the brush & invasive plants - but I'm interested enough to look into it a little more.  Everything was charred  & still smoking in places.  I didn't take a photo of the sign - but I was amazed to read that the park is home to the Southern Flying Squirrel
Lower view point~
When Shannon told me that this was her favorite conditioning area - with lots of very steep hills, I had to think she was pulling my leg.  After all, this is the mid-west, not the mountains.  Boy was I wrong!  We did nothing but climb & climb again!  Even Farah asked to stop to get her breath on the steepest - called;  "Thigh master"!  The trail went along the top edge of the bluff - with steep drops off both sides.
Along the high point~
As Farah admired the view here, I reminded her that she is probably one of the very few horses who have seen both the Columbia & the Missouri!
At the Columbia River - 5-2-15
The wind had been blowing when we started out & was really whipping up on the ridge.  You could see for miles & miles!
Farah & the Missouri
To say that we did some climbing was an understatement!  Shannon's pretty mare Haily & Farah seemed to have a understanding.  When Farah stopped - at a large burned tree - Haily moved forward & right past it!  If either was in the lead - the other was not to be left behind!  Put two endurance riders together & between swapping stories & riding - we had a ball.
Still on the Ridge~
The ridge went on for quite a way - the signs of Spring that we'd hoped to see just weren't there - the landscape had a stark look due to the burn.  It did open up views that will be gone once the trees leaf out & things do get a change to turn green.
Heading down~
The footing here, as you can see, was perfect for our unshod horses.  While we were out riding, Butch & Nika were hiking around the park & went to see the caves!
Petroglyph of Horse & Rider
 Butch got this great photo of one of the several amazing petroglyphs of unknown date or origin.  This area is rich in history & after seeing Butch's photos I want to go back & do some more exploring.
Our route~
When we returned to the trailers, both mares were sweaty with their winter coats soaked.  The wind if anything had picked up & we heard a large tree crack & fall.  Both mares had a good roll in the grass & good drink of water.  We'd only found one place on the trail that had water, the other spot was dry.  Once I got home & downloaded my Garmin I was amazed to see that we'd had over 1,700 feet in elevation gain in the ten-mile ride!  I won't doubt Shannon again!  Great ride at a super great place!

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