Friday, 14 July 2017

Birthday Girl

It was still pouring on the morning of Friday April 7th and Petra opted to chicken out of riding until the weather cheered up.  To be fair it was her birthday. On the other hand I was in for a soaking, but by the time I rendezvoused with Petra and friend Sue ten miles further on in Esparto, it was merely overcast. It was Sally who had kindly trailered me and Lady back out to Carson Sink in the autumn, and now she had volunteered to drive Petra's rig.  The Esparto supermarket car park was now the venue for a little birthday party also attended by Petra's mother..
Discretion prevents me from revealing a girl's age, but I can reliably inform you that it was more than the one candle on the cupcake.
Lady is getting blasé about her fan club..
 Riding through the almond groves...
Interesting if confusing...

Oh dear, it looks as though Petra has caught Rowena's equestrian scrumping bug....
Apart from the products of scrumping, we fortified ourselves with a birthday beer at the Road Trip Bar and Grill in Capay.  They were very excited to hear what I was up to, and I left weighed down with a selection of goodies including a Road Trip sweatshirt.
We camped near Cadenasso by a corral up a small side road.   During my research at home I had noticed that it appeared to be a numbered county road giving public access right up to the top of Berryessa Peak.  On google earth I could then see a private track running down the western side to the public road along the eastern shore of Lake Berryessa.  So when I tracked down Pete Craig and got permission to use the track, I thought I had cracked a safe route over the Blue Ridge. This would avoid using a busy and dangerous narrow road to the south.  However Pete queried the 'county' road, and on doing a little more research I found to my dismay that it was actually a private road with locked gates.   I spent a frantic morning following up various leads from Petra's house and identified several useful contacts, but in the end had to leave it to Petra to sort out.  But all's well that ends well, and she eventually managed to track down the owner who was a little hesitant at first. Petra explained the situation and happily he gave the required permission and gate combinations.  So on Saturday 8th April we negotiated the first set of padlocks...
...before setting off up a forested winding track into the hills.  In my innocence I had imagined a glorious ride enjoying panoramic vistas while the sun shone.  The reality was drizzle and mist with zilch chance of a view as we climbed steadily uphill.   It became colder, and I regretted leaving my gloves behind because yes those white flecks in the (Petra eye view) photo below are indeed snowflakes.....
 So much for a spring day in California.  But amazingly the mist lifted for a short time as we reached the summit of Berryessa Peak so we could enjoy the view down to the lake beyond....
Taking a misty photo with my Kindle on the eastern descent...
An unexpected locked gate....
Lady managed to scramble over the bank at the far end, but Petra had to phone for the padlock combination to let a rather fed up Red through.   Notice the sun has come out now we have nearly reached our destination.
Pete had also very generously offered us the use of the old Gunn ranch house by the lake, so here are Petra and Sally relaxing on the verandah...
 ..while the horses chill out in the yard....


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