Posted by: highmountainmuse | August 5, 2009

Old fashioned ways

Looking back at my husband and pack string as we ride up the Ute Creek Trail.

Looking back at my husband and pack string as we ride up the Ute Creek Trail.

You can call me old fashioned. It won’t be the first time.  And I’m guessing many of you are, too, in many ways. Don wrote this yesterday, saying we were born 150 years too late.  At times, I sure feel that way, and indeed, I suppose at times, I am.  Other times, I find change and diversity as a beautiful and necessary part of life, without which we would be stuck in stagnant waters.

And yet… there are some things of the past I do hold on to.  Some of the old ways.  But they are not necessary old for me.  In fact, now that I think about it, they are new. Learned in my adult life.  From horses to homesteading, baking bread and milking cows. Skinning and butchering and making the most of every possible part of the animal. I didn’t learn these things as a kid. So, by preferring these things over the ready made, instant gratification and convenient packaging, I suppose I’m not really holding onto the past, but choosing the direction of my future.

What I’m getting at here is a dilemma I’ve been thinking of often lately as I ride the trails around our ranch and see the changing ways of the mountain.  It’s the dilemma of horses… and ATVs. 

Yesterday, I was taking a group of horses into this magnificent, remote, high mountain fishing lake.  On the way home, after passing (or being passed by) ATV number 25, I finally had had enough.  I bailed off the trail with my pack string and headed down an old narrow twisting game trail, just to avoid the traffic.

Yes, 25 ATVs within an 8 mile ride.  In fact, all that traffic in only 4 of those miles, as the other 4 miles was a section of trail closed to ATV traffic. Thus the rare call on and need for my horses. Someone who wanted to go where their ATV wouldn’t take them.

And how many horses and riders did I pass?  None.  Not a. Zip.  Zilch.  Not even one horse trailer up this way.  Not one visitor, tourist, guest or neighbor out riding horses.  But how many out on ATV?  Ooohhh, I can’t count.

Now mind you, I don’t mean to open a debate against ATVs.  I just want to point out that in the past few years, we’ve seen a huge drop in horse riding, coinciding with a huge increase in ATV riding.  Eight years ago, my first summer on the ranch, was a big drought year. The West was burning up.  At least this part of Colorado sure was. By the first of June, the sky was pink by noon, and ash floated around in the evenings.  Because of the increased risk of fire danger, the Forest Service closed the trails to motorized vehicles. The horses were in demand. People were willing to ride. It was the only way to get around, and folks, once on the horses, remembered it’s a pretty good way to travel.

In the seven years following, the demand for horses has dropped considerably, as the sales of ATVs has taken a big leap forward.

I ride the trail, the only horseman out there, stopping to talk to all the nice folks out enjoying the Forest on their ATV.  I stop quite often.  There are many people.  It is peak season on the trails.  They are all nice; they all happily stop to talk; they all appreciate the nature and beauty around them… especially when they stop, shut off their motors, and take a look around. 

I feel very old fashioned.  Very out numbered, out dated.  A relic of the past.  One I will fight to hold on to, to continue to be.

Off to Ditch Camp!  Talk about old fashioned…

The view up towards East and Middle Ute

The view up towards East and Middle Ute

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Responses

  1. “I suppose I’m not really holding onto the past, but choosing the direction of my future.”

    Fantastic, just fantastic!

    I’m not necessarily anti-ATV, but the opportunity to see & hear & truly experience nature is so much richer from the back of a horse (or my own two feet for that matter.) Especially since for me I am looking to escape the rumble of traffic and man made *noise*. At least they are getting out and experiencing Nature on some level – perhaps that experience will interest them in trying out an even more rewarding way someday!

    Keep talking to them – maybe they’ll see the joy you experience as clearly we all do!

  2. You’re right, Maggie. It’s not an opposition in any way to the ATVs. It’s just that I don’t want to see the pleasures of riding horses lost. Thanks for understanding.
    gg

  3. You know Maggie, I had the same thought while I was reading. The thought that at least they are getting out and enjoying nature in their own way…even though I can’t imagine not being able to hear the birds and the breeze through the trees and whatever other sounds nature desires to bestow on me. (Unfortunately, sometimes those sounds do include ATV’s)

    Gin, this is the big reason Ron and I try to travel off-season, less people and noise. Of course you guys have to “make hay while the sun shines” so to speak!

  4. You know Maggie, I had the same thought while I was reading. The thought that at least they are getting out and enjoying nature in their own way…even though I can’t imagine not being able to hear the birds and the breeze through the trees and whatever other sounds nature desires to bestow on me. (Unfortunately, sometimes those sounds do include ATV’s)

    Gin, this is the big reason Ron and I try to travel off-season, less people and noise. Of course you guys have to “make hay while the sun shines” so to speak!
    PS: Wanted to mention great post!

  5. I like ATVs as well as anything, but I think that they should be more for the poor pitiful people unlucky enough not to have horses.

    IMO, Horses are a first choice, and 4wheelers a poor runner-up prize. But maybe that’s just me lol.

  6. I guess i had a head start on you .I was raised well off the grid . In the big city now i feel realy alone . I the mountains its like you have friends all around you . The trees and animals and all the other wild life .Bears arnt good friends sometimes .Just get between a mother and her cubs even by accident you will find out . I set a new world record in tree climbing once . Lucky she left when she got to her cubs . I like a good horse over ATVs . Talk to your ATV and see if gives you a big slurp on the arm .Too many people ride without regard to over people or the land .ATVs have a place its not in a wild life resurve . I have road motor cycles sense i was young .Both highway and off road .I enjoyed going up trails to where you would never go on foot . Too far .When i left you cold not tell i was there . No torn up landscape . To all ATVers just have fun and not destory the ladscape and the will stop closing areas you can ride . Happy ridind both hoses and ATVs . but mostly be safe
    DON

  7. Don,
    I so enjoy your stories and figure you have many more to share… hoping to hear more when you have time to write, or better yet, can make it up the mountain for a vist. We’re home from the ditch, safe and sound. Will share more in the morning.
    gg

  8. Well, I suppose the ATVs are a lot easier to care for than the horses, too!

  9. I know, Karen. And I’ve been so lost in my own busy summer, as I bet you have, too, that I haven’t kept track of how soon it is till we can see you and Ron and the boys. I have the pictures of your boys on my desk still. I look forward to a chance to catch up, to hear about all your adventures, too…
    love
    g


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