Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR title=
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR
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By Pat Fish

Tobe Mule and I ventured up and over to the Santa Ynez Valley, where a bright sunny day awaited on which to explore the trails on the 2,860 acre property of the Midland School.

Joining 5 other members of the Santa Ynez Valley Riders, we followed a trail along Figueroa Mountain Road and headed up toward Grass Mountain.

These trails are open to the equestrian and hiking public by reservation, and used by students at the private school for training in cross-country running.

 

The school is a college prep institution for the children of the elite. Students can participate in horseback riding as well as growing food in a 10 acre garden, in addition to "innovative experiential learning." Their Latin motto translates to "THE STRENGTH OF POWER." More info can be found at www.midland-school.org 

The season is turning, and spring green still remains in the landscape as we set out for our path upwards.

On the first part of the trail we walked through lovely oak meadows, with the scent of sage in the chaparral community around us.

And always above us rose Grass Mountain, silhouetted against the sky. At this time of year there should have been a poppy display on the slopes, as there currently are in other parts of the Southern California mountains. But the lack of rain or some other factor has apparently stopped this year's bloom.

This is a photo I took in March 2016, on a similar trail ride when the poppies were splendid.

The trails are maintained by the Santa Barbara Trails Council that I am proud to do volunteer work for, and we are grateful for their hard work keeping up the trails. I do wordsmithing, editing documents, while others are out with shovel and saw. All helping in the way we can to improve access for the public to the precious beauty of our area trails.

Sometimes that can mean blocking off a dangerous section of the trails and carving out another path. With the drought taking a hard toll on the oak trees this is a constant effort.

We saw a LOT of hikers on the trails, and without exception they were cheerful healthy people who looked like they were having a fine day walking in the woods.

I can't help but feel they secretly harbored a bit of envy when meeting the mighty Tobe Mule and seeing how easily I ascended the slopes on his back. He does all the work.

This man and his dog get my high praise for perfect trail etiquette. Many people have to be asked to pull their dog off the trail when a horse or mule is passing by. But he had his lovely companion trained to sit off trail facing away, so as not to meet the eye of the oncoming equine and appear a threat or challenge.

Good dog! Good owner!

As we ascended in elevation we could see the magnificent views of the horizon that the back country affords.

And looking down we could see the easy trail through the valley floor that we had started with, before we began our ascent on the more difficult trails.

And narrow it did!

But never a problem for the sure footed Kentucky mule. Sometimes a bit unnerving when he seemed wider than the trail, so that my foot appeared to dangle out over the edge and drop-off, but as we say "Worry is a poor counselor" and has no place on a trail ride. You must place faith in your equine.

Ascending above landmarks, switch backs and steep climbs, they are long miles.

And then thankfully the trails hit a plateau of sorts, and we walked through lush grassy meadows open to the sky.

Easier traveling, perhaps even a chance to let the animals have a snack and rest before continuing.

And although we were not so ambitious as to attempt the actual ascent of Grass Mountain, its presence on the upper horizon was always an inspiration.

As are the companions on their variety of animals with whom we share the trail.

Turning in the other direction we could see all the way out to the Pacific Ocean.

My guess is from that vantage point we were looking due West, across the Vandenberg Air Force Base, now renamed the  Vandenberg Space Force Base.

But forgetting the tensions of world war politics, we continued on our way. Indulging in that most precious age-old method of transportation: an equine excursion.

Until, that is, we came across this downed tree that completely blocked the trail. 

We made our way around it by descending a steep slope, and I have reported it to the trail angels of the SBTC to have the situation assessed and dealt with. The tree may be cut through, or a new trail created. They will know what to do.

From this point the trail continued to slope downward, and many times crossed over a stream. Water, such a welcome sight.

Presently the animals got a spring in their steps and picked up the pace, as they all recognized that we were not far from the staging area. Tobe Mule knows well that means the end of his day's work, a pile of carrots, and a ride home.

My thanks for him and his four good legs that take me where my insufficient two cannot get me, and for the organizations and people that make my riding safer.

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T J Apr 04, 2022 05:50 PM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

not the point. Yes, it (eventually) makes great fertilizer. Stepping on a pile of wet, sticky poop, or riding through it on a mtb and having it flung everywhere is not pleasant. Its a matter of courtesy. Never understood why the horse community thinks (or doesn't think) its ok to leave their animals' excrement on public trails. Whatever.

goletatim Apr 03, 2022 07:27 PM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

No problem what so ever with Equine poop. Leave it be and keep walking.
---
The chemical makeup of horse manure classifies it as a solid waste — that is, manure does not contain significant amounts of hazardous components nor does is exhibit hazardous properties. The chemicals in horse manure are not considered toxic — in fact, they can have many beneficial properties in agriculture, which is why horse manure has been and still is used as fertilizer both on an industrial scale and by home gardeners.
see:
https://www.horsenation.com/2017/05/17/claims-that-horse-manure-is-toxic-are-well-horse-manure/

or fertilizer...

Lucky 777 Apr 03, 2022 07:47 AM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

Found online: Midland School in Los Olivos, California serves 82 students in grades 9-12. 2022-23 Tuition | $69,700. International 2022-23 Tuition | $75,200 (includes medical insurance). I stand by saying these are the children of the elite.

syv_resident Apr 04, 2022 05:35 PM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

SBTOWNIE, Midland is absolutely a traditional college preparatory school. I encourage you to check out their website. None of their students are "troubled" and all elect to attend. Their website hosts a wealth of information on all they offer students. The setting tends to mislead those who don't know anything about the school and the assumption becomes it must be for troubled students on that basis alone. Please research the school before jumping to conclusions, it is an incredible place and we are lucky they open their trails to us hikers and equestrians. As a local, I too was someone who thought Midland was a place for "troubled" kids and then I did some research and visited the campus myself. I was 100% proven wrong.

SBTownie Apr 04, 2022 03:17 PM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

Thanks SYV. I agree the concept does seem interesting and compelling in an era of digital saturation and its effects on youths. But that doesn't change that in my day it was definitely a school for troubled kids.

syv_resident Apr 04, 2022 01:49 PM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

I encourage to to explore Midland's website and read my comment above. Midland is so much more than just a school and not at all a school for troubled children. In fact, Midland students are all academically motivated students who choose to attend Midland for a more community-focused and college preparatory high school education.

syv_resident Apr 04, 2022 01:48 PM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

Midland School is an incredible school for students from all economic backgrounds. The school was founded with the desire to have a college preparatory education available to anyone who wanted to attend and, to this day, over half of their students receive generous financial assistance to attend. It is nothing close to a reform school and is rather a wonderful opportunity for today's teens to disconnect from the constant pull from cell phones/technology and connect with one another through face-to-face interactions. The jobs program teaches real responsibility and commitment to a community and that fact that it is student-led leaves Midland graduates with real life leadership skills. I encourage you to check out their website and learn more about Midland. The school's mission is inspiring and the students who attend are highly motivated and smart students who go on to various professions.

SBTownie Apr 03, 2022 08:35 AM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

Yeah Lucky I think you're right. It's a school for the troubled children of the elite. Not a traditional prep school. More like a reform school for the elite.

yacht rocked Apr 02, 2022 12:44 PM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

"The school is a college prep institution for the children of the elite." Ha. Guess that's the last time you'll be riding those trails. ;-)

SBTownie Apr 02, 2022 12:26 PM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

A prep school for the elite? Something must have changed. Midland was where troubled (wealthy) youths were sent in my day. Addiction and behavioral issues. Accommodations were pretty rough back then. I think you had to chop wood for your own fire to keep warm. Not the worst thing for kids to do but I think too many were sent there after the behavioral issues began. Maybe they all would have benefitted from such schooling as a preventative measure.

syv_resident Apr 04, 2022 01:58 PM
Mountain Trails at Midland School with SYVR

I encourage you to check out their website and learn more about Midland. Midland has not ever been a school for troubled wealthy students, in fact, over half of the students who attend Midland receive generous financial assistance. It provides a wonderful opportunity for today's teens to disconnect from the constant pull from cell phones/technology and connect with one another through face-to-face interactions. The jobs program teaches real responsibility and commitment to a community and the fact that it is student-led leaves Midland graduates with real life leadership skills. The school's mission is inspiring and the students who attend are highly motivated and smart students who go on to various professions. Students did have to chop wood for hot shower water up until recently, however, it was part of the school's mission of everyone giving back to the community in one form or another. Again, I encourage you to check out their website to learn more about the school and the incredible opportunities it provides teenagers.

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