Riding High In the Sierra Nevadas
Sitting now in my living room in Verona, Wisconsin, it is hard to believe that a week ago I was sleeping in a rustic inn in Trevelez, the highest village in Spain, following a long day of riding through amazing scenery in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. My best riding buddy and I signed up for this ride in celebration of “big” birthdays, 60 for me. We expected to see and do amazing things, and were not disappointed.
I cannot say enough good things about trip outfitter, Dallas Love, and her string of wonderful, hard-working horses.These are well-schooled, sure-footed, trustworthy mounts who seem eager to go to work each morning and are highly responsive to rein and leg cues. Although I don’t like heights, I can honestly say that I never had a moment of fear, even on the most precarious trails, thanks to the steadiness and experience of the horse Dallas trusted to me for the week. Prior to experiencing this week of mountain riding, had I seen the trail down the Trevelez river gorge, I would never, ever have thought I would willingly walk down it on my own, let alone leading a horse!
Dallas is a competent, experienced tour leader and excellent cook. She prepared amazing picnic lunches, always accompanied by a local wine. One day after lunch I casually mentioned that the only thing lacking was a bit of chocolate. Voila! Dallas pulled a giant bar of dark chocolate with almonds from her picnic bag!
The experiences and scenery of this trip will not be easily forgotten. The sounds of our horses’ hooves echoing through the steep, narrow streets of so many tiny white-painted mountain towns, the bubbling village fountains where we and the horses drank cold spring water, and the melody of cowbells on all sides as we rode through a high mountain pasture are among the most vividly different from suburban life in the United States.
I would highly recommend the Coastal Range Ride for persons who are FIT, both for riding and hiking. The ride description says you need to be capable of mounting and dismounting on the trail, which indeed we did many, many times each day, and be capable of walking up and down steep, rocky terrain leading your horse.Take this seriously. We walked a lot, both on the trail and in the villages.Some of the trails were tricky, to say the least! My riding buddy and I were very thankful for our rubber soled Ariat Terrain boots. We also definitely wished we had signed up for a fall ride (after a season of riding at home) rather than a spring ride following a long, idle winter.
If you do take this ride, you can be sure you will see sights and have experiences that are absolutely unique, enjoy excellent horses, and be very well looked after by Dallas, aka “the mountain gourmet.” Buen viaje!
Ride Review by Jean Warrior