Probably one of the biggest benefits of living where I do is the access that Northern Californians have to nature.? We have one of the best - if not maybe THE best - park systems in the country.? There are regional parks, open space land (administered by utilities, etc.) and state parks - all accessible to horses.
I can choose to ride on Mt. Diablo and get some serious hill climbing and heat training on my horse.? Or I can ride up Mt. Tamalpias and get views of the Sierras and San Francisco in one afternoon trip.? Or we can load up and trailer to wine country to ride past vineyards and herds of fat dairy cattle.? It's really pretty great.? But please don't move here :).
The big fat ruby on this crown of outdoor bounty is Point Reyes.? Point Reyes is a state park located north of San Francisco and encompassing a truly spectacular variety of coastal beauty.? If ever you come to visit Northern California, it would be a crime not to see Point Reyes.? And if - even better yet - you can somehow get someone to let you throw a leg over and go for a ride on Limantour beach, this you must do.
So yes, we did it.? We took the mares and met up with our good friend Cris Jones deep in the Point Reyes seashore.? From a staging area near a youth hostel, we rode a beautiful 13 mile loop covered in wild purple iris, golden California poppies and fragrant ceanothus.? Accented with a lost elk.
The elk tracked us down - confused by but hopeful of our four-legged friends - near Drake's Estero.? The estero is in the northern part of Point Reyes and it characterized by rolling, relatively-treeless hills surrounding a beautiful tidal landscape.? A herd of elk live in this area and this young cow had apparently become separated from them.? She tracked us on a diagonal path to the trail we were traveling for some way before she finally gave up hope that the horses might be some kin of hers.? We were watching her trajectory converge with ours and bracing for a circus event among our three high-strung, really-enjoying-themselves Arabians.? Fortunately the horses never saw her and she was downwind of us - which is probably why she gave up in the end.? We just?didn't?smell right.
We rode on the beach for three or four miles and it was one of those fortuitous times where the tide is out far enough to provide a nice wide margin of hard-packed sand so you can canter.? Albeit a wee bit sideways (lots of leg on the land side) and apparently kelp can kill because Stella WOULD NOT step on it, but still we were cantering on the beach.? So.? Much.? Fun.