Monday, September 10, 2012

Return to the River

A view from the Hiwassee bridge over the New River.

The end of summer is rapidly approaching!  With that in mind, my friend Sierra & I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and ride the NRV Trail.

Our favorite ride is to park at the Draper access point (with good parking and a conveniently located vault toilet, plus a convenience store).  We then ride from there to the Hiwassee boat launch area, play in the river, then ride back.  Round trip is approximately 12.4 miles and takes about 4 hours at a medium pace, not including play time.

Parlay, Sierra & Bella
Sierra rode her mare, Parlay, and brought her dog, Bella, along.  (The same mare that I had a big accident which prompted me to search for a horse like Guinness!  Fortunately, Sierra has brought the best out of this girl and given her a wonderful home.)

The most exciting feature of the trip, aside from the opportunity to swim, is usually crossing the long wooden-decked bridge over the New River.

This time we had another thrill: we encountered a RATTLE SNAKE stretched across the trail between the bridge and the boat ramp!!

Bella was first to spot the snake as she trotted up ahead.  It had been a cool night and it was out sunning itself near two recently-cut logs.  Sierra called Bella back and we watched from a distance as it slithered off the trail and out of sight.  After waiting a bit, we edged closer, while staying at the far edge of the trail. 

Rattle Snake between two logs!

Here is a photo I snapped as I passed the point where the snake had left the trail.  It had stopped and was looking back at me over his snakey shoulder!!  It appeared to have about 5 rattles but I wasn't about to stop to count..

Guinness on the trail.

Without further incident, we made it to the river.  For the first time, Guinness willingly immersed his belly in the water.  He actually swam his first few strokes and we made it to a little sandbar.  (Could it have had something to do with the PB sandwich I was holding?)

We didn't see the snake again, thank goodness, and made it back to the trailer safely.  It did get us thinking about what we would have done if the snake had bitten a horse.  We decided that we would first tie a tourniquet around the affected leg using whatever we had at hand.  Next, we would call the vet school.  Then one of us would have stayed with both horses, while the other hitched a ride back to the trailer, and came back to pick up the horses.  Finally, we would have driven straight along the highway to the vet school!

One weird thing about this ride:  Guinness was disinclined to trot or canter (his usually default) and willingly gaited instead.  Strange.  Got me wondering if he had hurt himself climbing over a gate a week or so before.  I thought that he had emerged unscathed.  However, he felt totally sound at the walk..?

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