After enjoying seven magnificent days wandering around the wild and scenic Squic River,
we made it back out to our rig which was parked at Nira Campground.
We spent a restful night here before beginning the second half of our journey.
I fed all of the animals some hay but Gobi just had to be different, he found a bag of pellets in the trailer.
I didn't care if he wanted some as long as he was happy. Then he pulled the bag out and it hit the ground, luckly without breaking.
I thought, no big deal he could eat them from the bag on the ground. I then heard the sound of the bag being ripped apart and saw Gobi carrying the bag off, playing with it as he went.
He was more interested in playing with the bag than eating the food that had been in it.
That's Gobi for you. We finally got off to a late start after repacking the provisions and were now headding up the Manzana River.
The trail starts out lazily meandering through small grassy meadows, following along
the river. We passed a few gorgeous little campsites tucked off to the side.
The trail leaves the river every now and then climbing upward through sage brush along the south facing side.
Some of the most Beautiful and colorful wildflowers fill-in the open spaces along the trail before dropping back down again.
The trail soon leaves the river, becoming very narrow and cutting across steep hillsides.
It winds around and eventually takes us back to a beautiful little river camp below the narrows.
As we traveled along, I look down the steep drop-offs and wonder how I'd ever get Gobi back up if he were to go over the side.
In some places I could use my hand saw and cut a way open, but as luck would have it, I left that back at my truck.
As it turned out Gobi was doing better than my horse Creek. Creek kept getting his hoofs too close to the edge of the trail,
doing damage and knocking the outside of it away. There's nothing like sitting on the back of a horse and listening to parts of
the trail go crashing through the brush down the steep hillside!
The weather had warmed up so we were taking it slow and easy.
We took a long break at Manzana Camp where the mighty river comes gushing out as it escapes the grippes of the great narrows.
I topped off my water supply and enjoyed the coolness of the river as the animals filled their bellies with sweet grass and water.
As we headed up through the mighty narrows, the going got rougher. There were large rocks and steep drop-offs,
with frequent stream crossings and swift water rushing around the animals' legs! Looking up at the splendor of its tall bluffs as
the canyon walls continue to close in about us, we traveled up stream. The area is heavily wooded and has numerous waterfalls that
loudly gush into their crystal blue pools below. We continued riding through, listening to the sounds reverberating off the steep canyon walls,
enjoying the magnificent splendor that surrounded us. We kept pushing through until we came out on the far side at Manzana Narrows Campgrounds.
We took a well deserved lunch break at this pleasant little camp, under its thick-wooded canopy high overhead.
The scent of a cool damp breeze gently blew through the camp as the musical sound of the waterfalls filled our ears.
Creeks' tied to a small tree, was relaxing; Sespe and Dandy stood beside him peacefully as could be.
Gobi did a little exploring around checking out the fire pits, and then found a nice place to lie down near his buddies.
I joined him by sitting on a small portion of rock that was protruding from the ground. While sitting there having my lunch,
Gobi insisted on joining in. I gave him some granola bars and gave his buddies some too.
Of course, Gobi got up and suck his head over my shoulder wanting more as I gave them some.
We started on our way again, following the trail as it left the river and starts worked its way up the hot,
south-facing slop where large patches of flowers grew in between the sagebrush.
Gobi's hair was still long; he had not lost his full winter coat yet, so we were taking it slow and easy. I had to keep a tight rain on Creek because
if he had his way, we would have made it up the hill in half the time. Gobi was working up a good lather and breathing hard out of his mouth.
Luckily, giant puffy clouds had started filling up the sky, cooling things off.
The trail soon leveled out near the top, and we took a long break while enjoying the towering bluffs and immense rock formations that make up the Hurricane Deck.
As the animals rested, I headed up the trail checking things out while doing a little trail work.
I was pleasantly surprised at how close we were to the top. In another half mile, we made it to Happy Hunting Grounds
camp and started setting up our second base camp.
Happy Hunting Grounds is truly a beautiful camp. Most people pass right by,
not realizing what breathtaking wonders there are for those willing to take the time and do a little exploring.
This little camp is nestled beneath some gorgeous bluffs that overlook the lush green meadows.
A small spring flows its way through the meadow and feeds into a nearby creek, becoming
a misty waterfall that drops a hundred feet to the valley floor.
Above camp, in the massive bluffs, there's a huge opening cutting back into it.
This is where Indians took shelter many years ago. Looking out from here one sees more massive bluffs along the far side.
Down in the flat rock below are numerous pools of water, and overhead there's a seasonal waterfall trickling over the top.
We spent three days enjoying the splendor of this remote mountain valley. With all of the thick lush grasses,
I would have to say the animals enjoyed it as much as I did. They were very content to stay put,
munching the sweet rich grass and drinking the fresh spring water.
I set up an extra-long high line set up in a small meadow below camp where I could tie Creek up at night,
giving him the freedom to move the length of the meadow while eating grass and having the ability to reach a slow-flowing creek at the far end.
Other than that, he roamed free most of the time with his buddies to feed on the tall grass above camp.
On the trail coming into camp I tied some rope across a narrow spot that had thick brush on both sides, just in case a horse decided to leave.
They didn't try. Why should they when they could eat their fill of sweet grass? Gobi was having too much fun eating and playing around camp.
He wasn't going anywhere. Dandy did go around the brush a few times, going a short ways down the trail.
However, I believe that she was only standing guard and wanted to have a clear view of things.
At one point Dandy came running back into camp. I knew someone must be coming up the trail. Sure enough! A few minutes later, a hiker showed up and
stayed for a few minutes before continuing on his way.
It had been a long day. The dark, moonless night was quickly upon us as the bright stars slowly began to twinkle in the heavens above.
I set up two LED camp lights in the brush nearby to light up our camp. Their soft amber glow was not much brighter than a full moon on a clear night.
Gobi made himself right at home next to my tent, using one of the panniers for his pillow.
Just take a look at the photo. Does this look like a happy camel or what? He even got his feet massaged.
Heck, after the long hike getting up here, who wouldn't enjoy a good foot massage? It's also good training for those times during which I have to work on his feet.
It was such a lovely evening sitting there with Gobi in this pristine wilderness while watching the rest of the animals forage
and the heavenly stars sparkle in the vast, dark skies.
I ended up sitting there as the night slowly wore on and sleep started to catch up with me before crawling into my sleeping bag.
Camping out here was so peaceful that I slept like a baby. I awoke to the warmth of a new sunrise slowly taking over the coolness of night,
feeling totally refreshed and ready to begin a beautiful new day.
We went for a long day ride, following the trail deeper into the wilderness and passing by another small camp.
It led us up along the main creek into a small, heavily wooded canyon with some of the tightest switchbacks I've ever been on.
We traveled about 50 feet and then turned on a switchback that was almost too tight for a horse to maneuver.
There were only about four of them going the short distance to the top. Gobi seemed to get confused seeing us go one way and then the other.
Sespe and Dandy cut past him and caught up as we rode over the top. Looking back, I didn't see Gobi. I stopped and waited for him.
There was nowhere close by to tie up Creek. I had to continue a short distance before I could dismount and go back looking for Gobi.
I was thinking that at worst, he would head back to camp. Then, surprise! He came running toward me looking as happy as could be.
The top of the mountain was largely flat, with numerous, little hidden valleys and meadows winding off the main trail.
We lost the trail at one point and explored some pristine meadows as we wandered around trying to pick up the trail again.
The trail wound around and through small canyons as it followed a little seasonal creek.
We crested the top and came upon a large field of yellow flowers. There were unbelievable rock formations with
pine trees popping out of them. I tied up Creek up in the shade of a small pine tree, and his buddies joined him for a rest in the shade.
Doing a little exploring, I found a dark gray rock formation that looked like a giant whale breaching itself above the brush.
Inside its mouth was a sheltered area with a large, flat and sandy floor where the Indians took shelter long ago.
On the back wall is an ancient cave painting known as the Medicine Man. It was very unusual because whereas most cave paintings are small,
this one was life-size.
Looking across at the Medicine Man while sitting on a small rock outcropping within the cool depths of the whale's mouth gives one time to think......
Getting back to the animals, I found Gobi lying in the field of flowers enjoying the warmth of the sun and rolling around giving himself a flower
bath. That spoiled camel had flower petals all over his body. The rest of the animals were still doing fine and were resting in the shade,
so off I went exploring some more.
Up in the bluffs to the west, numerous caves and some large holes in the flat rock had been dammed up to hold rain water.
I heard that old-timers had hidden things in the caves long ago. In some of them hunters had stashed their supplies and then used rocks to close it up.
I found a small cave with some coffee pots and a few other old things laying inside; from here I could look far below and see that the animals were doing fine.
Off I went looking for another cave where years ago miners seeking wealth and riches had stashed their picks, shovels and other old tools.
I gave up trying to find that cave, as I had been away from the animals far too long and it was going to take at least 30 minutes to work my
way back down.
Dandy and Sespe were now playing in the flowers as I mounted Creek for the ride back.
The return trip was all down hill and the going was faster as I sat on Creek's back admiring all the scenery
I had missed coming in. We got back to the place with tight switchbacks and Gobi got confused again. Dandy and Sespe cut past him.
I looked up and kept riding along until I found a place to tie Creek up.
I walked back below the switchbacks, and Gobi appeared around a rock outcropping getting ready to cut down the steep hill.
I started yelling, "No, Gobi, no"! I was going to run up the hill and show him the way down. He had other ideas and started down coming to me.
I had my camera in hand and started taking pictures. As I moved over to get a better side shot of him, he turned and came towards me where the hill
was even steeper. Dust was flying and rocks were rolling as he made it to the bottom. I was impressed!
After a peaceful night back at camp and sleeping in until the sun had warmed up the early morning, it was time to start breaking camp.
We made good time heading back down the mountain through all of the wildflowers. Going through the rough narrows,
we came out of the far side without Gobi. At an extremely bad spot Gobi had stopped and his buddies cut past him again.
The trail was too narrow for me to turn Creek around. When we returned to Manzana camp.
I tied Creek to an oak tree and walked back up the trail calling Gobi. Part way back, Gobi came running to me.
He eagerly followed me back. We found Dandy had come part way back up the trail looking for us. She a good zebra;
she keeps an eye on all of us and always goes back looking for the stragglers.
We made it back to the rig without further incidents, loaded up, and drove 20 miles back to a nice campsite along the road,
and everyone rest for the night before heading home.
Roger and Gobi