There’a a three part series I’d like to share with you about our pack expeditions to the Gold Mines of Real Del Castillo which at one time, was a booming mining town during the 1870’s. It was also the first capital of Baja California!
Although two years have gone by since we’ve seen them, in April of 2015, a lovely Dutch group will return from the Netherlands for another ten day program. On the itinerary during their stay, and at their request we’re to embark on another adventurous expedition to the Gold Mines of Real Del Castillo. This trip is exactly what I’ve waited for, because it’s a significant goal I set for myself many years ago, and for my young mare, Bellota.
Some of you have heard mention of my horse, Bellota (Bay-o-ta). She was born on our ranch, and we raised her from day one. Since I started riding her when she was 3 years old, one important goal I set for both of us was a trip to the Gold Mines in Real Del Castillo. This is my way of determining whether I did a good job with her final training, and if she is truly a finished horse.
The first day is a 10 hour ride over rough, rocky terrain, through dry, arid areas, and over enormously, stoic mountains. Now at 5 years old, she’s fully grown, and physicaly able to complete the trip. I feel totally confident she can do it too.
In January of 2012, I wrote two stories called, The Wall: A Lesson in Being Prepared, Part I and Part II where I told of our 10 hour ride, my bout with dehydration while on the ride, and our ascent up the Mighty Wall which is an incredibly steep mountain trail with endless switch backs which lead right up to the mountain’s peak. The horses are literally climbing for 45 minutes straight, but of course we give them plenty of rests in between.
Bellota and I are getting ready for next Spring. Right now we climb any mountain we find. The rockier, and steeper it is the better. As we carefully make our way over rocky areas, she’s learning how to pay attention to where I guide her, while at the same time, I’m learning to communicate to her exactly where I want her to go, and what I want her to do. Although I’ve ridden all my life, it’s entirely different when riding a young inexperienced horse. No matter how sweet she is. 🙂
One time we were on a ride to the fish ponds, and as we rode through a narrow pass with a 7 ft. drop off into the canyon below, the bulging hillside which crowded us on our left didn’t allow an inch of room for a quick escape in case I had to bail out.
Suddenly, without warning, she reared on her hind legs, turned around in mid air, and landed safely on the trail facing the opposite direction. Never in all my life has my body shook so hard with fear as it did that day. The idea of my rear end hanging out over the edge of the cliff almost sent me into cardiac arrest.
Amazingly though, Bellota was calm the entire time. Once she landed in the opposite direction, she stood quietly, and nibbled at the grass on the hillside, which was now on our right. I then proceeded to dismount immediately!
You see, although I’ve ridden my entire life, Bellota is the first horse that I’ve ever raised from birth. Fortunately, she’s very sweet, willing to please, and smart. Believe me when riding a young horse over rugged terrain, that’s a huge plus!
Bellota and I are a team now. I’ve worked with her all these years, and equally so, she’s worked with me. We’ve learned from each other, and now its time to put what we learned to the test.
My goal is for both of us to ride to Real Del Castillo, and Conquer the Mighty Wall, together. We’re moving steadily towards that goal, and upon its completion- together, Bellota and I can conquer anything.
Thank you for reading my story. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed it.
Look for my next adventurous posts: The Journals of Real Del Castillo 2010 Part I, and II.
If you would like to read those previous posts I mentioned here are the links: