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Heaven's Gate Muse, Oklahoma Day 2

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Today we decided to ride up to Horse Thief Springs. A 13 mile round trip. It was a calm, sunny day and unseasonably cool (High of 83°) for July in Oklahoma - which is why we planned the trip in the first place. The camp only hosted one other pair of trail riders at the time, being the off season and during the week. Our camp hostess D'Anna was very welcoming and helpful as we made sure to do a better job picking her brain on ride options before heading out.

You can always tell when someone puts their heart and soul into a business and she maintained an excellent campground and trails. With over 50 miles of trails accessible from her camp ground, all of which she put in and maintains herself, is mind-boggling to me but she does an excellent job keeping up with the place. The bath house, built by D'Anna herself, was very clean and the outhouse was spick-and-span as well. I can attest how nice a shower feels after a long trail ride!

Sue stayed in the RV, which is a good option if you don't have a LQ trailer. It wasn't fancy but again, it was clean and worked just fine for our purposes.

The horses handled their overnight accommodations well. I only wish I had brought a few more shavings because the ground was very hard in the pens but they didn't seem too bothered. The pens were also a nice size (12x12 probably) and that always helps keep the horses from getting too stoved up overnight. I also really liked that since I had a hookup (which included water and electric) the horse pens were right on my sight. It was extremely convenient for doing chores. D'Anna also supplied good wheel barrows for mucking the stalls which made that task much easier.

After the horses had their breakfast, we packed our lunches and headed north towards the scenic Hwy 1 that we had driven in on shortly before arriving at the RV and Horse Camp the day before. We knew at the very end of the ride we would need to cross the highway and weren't sure what that looked like but we were willing to give it a try.

We headed off on the forest roads at the beginning of the ride for two reasons. One: they were much easier on the horses, this being a long ride we wanted to make it as easy as possible. And two: we wanted to check them out and see how traveled they were and what they were like. We didn't see a single soul

on one of those roads the entire time we were out. We were in the boonies! In certain areas the horse flies were pretty significant but again we were there in the off-season. Horseflies and giant spiders, oh and ground bees (see post about day 1) are on the list of trail riding hazards this time of year! The entire ride up to Horse Thief Springs was an ascent, not too steep but my trail tracking app was telling us we were averaging 327 feet of elevation per mile which is significant for our flat-land horses! They handled it so well though. We really didn't feel the need to stop and rest them much especially since we planned a half-hour rest time at the springs.

Part-way through the ride Susan and I traded horses. Dillon was doing great and I'm sure he thought the trails were really easy compared to what we had put ourselves through the day before!

After a while we kept thinking "we must be about there". I think I said that a dozen times to Susan as we were getting pretty hot and tired. We were in dense forest. It was a mix of pine and oak trees. Really beautiful but very hard to tell how far we had gone or how much longer it was. Apparently there is a way to ride all the way to the springs on a horse trail but we decided to attempt a call to D'Anna and see if there was another way. The last little bit of trail (probably .25 miles) wasn't well marked and was more sketchy and challenging than we cared for. She explained that we could just cross the highway and the springs were down a little paved road on the other side.

Ok so here is the deal. We did finally find the springs. The shade and the picnic tables and the grass for the horses was wonderful. The spring itself though... well I think the pictures can speak for themselves! We hung out for half an hour or so and watched a few passers-by drive down the road and check out the springs. Guys, I could have sat there ALL day and watched the look of exasperation on people's faces after the anti-climactic spring viewing! It was hysterical. And Susan and I, being as exhausted as we were from the whole horse-camping-solo adventure couldn't contain our laughter.

The entire ride was 5 and 1/2 hrs including our break. We gained and lost a total of 1600 feet of elevation. Overall, a good out-and-back style ride. I do have to say I felt it was very good prep for Colorado and I was ecstatic that my 23 year old Tennessee Walking Horse, Jake, was up to the task and didn't get sore at all during the trip.

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