Legend of the Lost Calf
By Pat Fish
What's wrong with this picture? That calf is on the wrong side of the fence!
X marks the spot where the lost calf was stuck on the Live Oak Camp side of the fence that divides the public lands from the Rancho San Fernando Rey property.
It was a short ride, just a leg stretch, up the winding trail to the first gate, then along the straight boundary fence, and out over the bluff that looks out over the former golf course and the 154.
Speaking of the 154, check out those skid marks! We locals hear of accidents all the time, and today we were held up for what looked like some sort of repair on a transmission line pole.
It seemed as though the helicopter was delivering or removing something but when I took this shot of it flying away the thing swinging below it is a mystery.
So much for photographic technology!
But we were soon waved on, across the Suicide Bridge, where I always say a prayer for the two people I have known who jumped to their deaths. The wire mesh ruins our view and does not successfully prevent more jumpers, a tragedy all around.
It was nice to see the fire risk is low right now, but soon we will return to eternal summer and the baked grasslands of the chaparral woodlands.
Onward to our destination,
The Old Same Place.
Where sometimes unusual things happen.
Turning into the parking area I was amazed at the largest number of horse trailers I've EVER seen here! Turned out a very popular local cowgirl decided to throw a wingding of a birthday party for herself and invited dozens of her compadres to a beautiful trail ride.
The bar was open and the good times were rolling.
Woo hoo! While we tacked up our animals we watched as they hit the trail ...
Unbelievable! I have been here with the BackCountry HorseMen of America, with local riding clubs, and never have I seen this large a group hitting the trails. She must be one popular gal indeed!
They were gone by the time we were all ready, and we headed down to the Santa Ynez River crossing which still has a little water in it.
Tobe Mule impersonated a unicorn to aggravate Mosca the sensitive spooky racehorse, distracting her from the water.
There was just enough water to make a little spillway as the River headed toward the lake. Nice for the animals to catch a drink before their walk begins.
On the main trail there were mysterious drag marks in the dirt. Three parallel lines that must have indicated something heavy being transported along it. At first we suspected they might be forbidden bicycle tracks, but in the soft areas they were too soft and regular.
All these trails are accessible by vehicles, but what left this mark remains a mystery.
Because we figured that the big group of people were doing the long route out to the plateau we sensibly opted for the right hand path, and turned East toward the Rancho San Fernando Rey.
Looking out across their acres is always restful. Often there are cows in the shade of the oaks, sometimes I have seen herds of deer resting there. Once a large group of deer panicked at the sight of Tobe Mule and I, and ran towards us and jumped the fence 10' from us.... we watched amazed, it was like being on an African safari.
At one point in the border fence a mud wallow made an obstacle that my Charro riding pals just could not resist.
Horses would prefer not to walk through uncertain surfaces...
But it is good training to tell them who is boss.
El Jefe Arturo !!
But WAIT! What's this? A redhead on the wrong side of the boundary fence, clearly regretting whatever foolish sense of adventure has led him astray!
There was a gate in the fence nearby, and I thought surely the next exhibition of Mexican cowboy skills would be rounding up the wayward one and returning it to the right side of the fence, but NO! The men firmly explained that such interference with someone else's cattle would simply never do, philosophically expressing what I would say in colloquial English as "Not my circus, not my monkeys."
Then I couldn't help but notice this part of the fence had the bottom strand of barbed wire trampled down into the dirt. I have been suspicious that allowing hikers to access the trails would lead to them trespassing onto the adjacent private property, and I deduce this may have happened here. Just my supposition. In any case our little lost pal may have done the limbo and escaped through it.
Leaving him to his fate, the trail beckons us on.
Especially pleasant with the persisting spring greens.
And the dramatic skies that so often come across the coastal mountain range and over this lovely valley.
This is looking directly back towards our Santa Barbara home. So near, and yet so very different from this landscape.
From here we followed the trail out to the overlook above the golf course which is now for sale and clearly going un-watered and untended. And it was in front of a magnificent oak that it was time to take souvenir portrait photos.
Noe Peña Alvarez and Marcos
Jame Buse and Mosca
Arturo Medina Espinoza on Pistola
Rodrigo Espinoza on Relámpago
And now, lovely as the view was from this spot, it was time to turn around and go back.
The sky was filled with clouds known as cirrus uncinus, Mare's Tails.The name is derived from Latin and means "curly hooks"
Their soft patternings overhead are a beautiful contrast with the mountainsides and trees below.
As usual Tobe Mule and I were bringing up the rear, riding drag, so the rest of the krewe were first to see our little lost buddy as we came back up the fence.
Poor little critter!
We left him to shinny back under the fence and get back to where he belonged.
Noe was off to the left prancing around in a field with feisty Marcos
And way up on the skyline Arturo was putting Pistola through some training
But it was time to hit the trail, and Marcos disagreed.
Noe loves the energy of his stallion.
Tobe and I just watch,
and I'm glad Tobe never gets any idea to imitate this!
So back to Live Oak Camp we go, finishing another nice stroll through the forest in good company.
We ford the river, such as it is, cooling hooves and giving the animals a chance to drink after their hard work.
And back at the rigs the party was still going, with a unicorn piñata being whacked with vigor as we untacked and loaded up the animals to return to civilization.