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…