HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELIJAH!
Horseback Riding at Eagle Creek Ranch
We have always believed that birthday should be about experiences, not objects. So, we usually try to find activities to give each other for birthdays gifts as a way to celebrate another age milestone. Our youngest son, Elijah, just turned 13 (another teenager in the family!). Being our nature lover, we knew he really wanted to do something with animals. Last year, we had a special day behind the scenes at the Cougar Mountain Zoo (way cool!). This year, we decided to go horseback trail riding up in the Cascade Mountains.
Fall has returned to the Pacific Northwest and with nature’s annual color show. The leaves have just started to turn from plain greens to bright reds, oranges, and yellows. The air is a little cooler and the sky is a little greyer. What better time to saddle-up and hit the open trail? Elijah brought his best- friend, Kaneda, and off we went!
I researched on the internet and found Eagle Creek Ranch in Leavenworth, Washington. I have written before about this quaint little Bavarian-like village in the Cascade Mountains, so you can read up on it if you like. Eagle Creek Ranch is about 8 miles north-east of town nestled in a small picturesque valley. On the drive there, I could feel myself start to decompress and relax. The scenery along Highway 2 is magnificent.
Eagle Creek Ranch was amazing! It was everything I hoped it would be for Elijah’s birthday. The ranch was reminiscent of the old west days of the area, with a large barn, old wooden ranch house complete with a pick-nick area, and all sorts of cool antique stuff to look at. The hills and mountains surrounding the ranch created a beautiful backdrop to complete the scene. You really got the feeling of an authentic working ranch. Best of all, standing idly around waiting for us were the horses!
When we got out of my truck, we were promptly greeted by a group of chickens looking for handouts. They seemed to know that visitors usually mean free food. While everyone else walked around and took in the atmosphere of the place, I went to look for our hosts. I went into the ranch house and was warmly greeted by the owners, Susan and Mike.
We were a little early, so we decided to have a pick-nick lunch. Mish laid out a spread on the tail-gate of my truck so we could eat and enjoy the view. The chickens quickly gathered around hoping for some hand-outs, which of course they got. They were obviously quite well fed. I had a nice chat with Susan and Mike and got all of our necessary paper-work in order. Luckily, they had a horse that could carry me too.
After lunch, we were introduced to our horses, Elijah’s was Money, Kaneda’s was Valentine, Mish’s was Oden, and mine was Terminator. I was warned that Terminator had a wonderful habit of releasing a lot of gas while on a ride. Great! Yes, he did live up to his reputation. Oh well, at least I got to go.
Once we were all in the saddles, we followed Susan up onto the trail. We went in single file with me bringing up the rear, for obvious reasons. The day was perfect! We slowly worked our way up into the foothills. As we ascended, the view got better and better. Soon, we were able to see the ranch far below us in the valley. The Wenatchee Forest is filled with Large Leaf Maples, Ponderosa Pines, Mountain Hemlocks, Quaking Aspens, White Oaks, and a variety of colorful wild flowers.
Mish’s horse, Oden, kept helping himself to a snack of the native plants as he walked. Mish tried to keep him from having a continual buffet, but it didn’t work. He was determined to eat his way along the trail. So, we were a merry band of eating, farting, and pooping horses wandering through the forest up into the hills. The entire time, Susan entertained us with stories and information.
I don’t think that we were the most graceful of riders, but we certainly had a wonderful time. The hour and a half went by far too quickly. Before we knew it, we were headed back down to the ranch.
Once we arrived at Eagle Creek, the horses knew exactly what to do. They obediently went to their respective posts and waited patiently for us to dismount. We rewarded them for their effort by feeding them apples and carrots, which they gratefully accepted. All in all, it was a perfect birthday present for Elijah, much better than some over-priced toy that soon would be forgotten. This memory will last a lifetime.
Thank you for the awesome experience Susan and Mike!