The George and Lonesome experience

What do you get when you cross a Tennessee Walker named George and a Quarter Horse named Lonesome with two ladies looking for adventure on Spruce Knob? An unforgettable fall experience! Yeehaw! Tuesday was a totally amazing day!

Our horseback ride was originally scheduled for the eighteenth, but as that date approached, the weather forecast got more dismal by the moment. With a high of 38° predicted, and snow, there was no way I was heading to Spruce Knob to ride a horse for five hours. My friend, Marta, agreed, so I called Yokum’s Stables where they willingly changed our ride to the 25th. I truly appreciated their flexibility. When we arrived for check-in, the first thing our guide told us was how happy we had made him when we changed dates! We were now riding on a fall day with weather just short of miraculously perfect for West Virginia’s highest elevation.

The horses were trailered to the Seneca Creek backcountry in the Monongahela National Forest where we saddled up and rode out. I had to wonder briefly about packing a chain saw in with us but we hadn’t ridden far before it was needed. When our guide got his permit to ride the trails, part of his agreement included keeping the trails clear. The wood was left to be used by campers as firewood, and we rode on in just a matter of minutes.

I’m glad we weren’t expected to “jump” the tree!

While some of the trees were bare of foliage, the forest floor was carpeted in rich orange, gold, and rust colored hues and the leaves crunched under the horses hooves, a sound I loved hearing. We rode along Seneca Creek, listening to the rush of the water and enjoying the bits of sunshine mingling with the trees. Our ride was made even more beautiful by the presence of evergreen trees and lush green ferns.

From Seneca Creek, which had been a nice easy ride, our journey got more interesting. Our horses clambered up Allegheny Mountain on the Bear Hunter‘s Trail. It was fairly steep and they stopped to rest several times. I was happy I wasn’t hiking up the hill but I felt kind of sorry for my horse. Good old George!

When our trail intersected with the Allegheny Mountain Trail, we went left to ride along the ridge, with Spruce Knob in the distance. In a large grassy and sunny field, we stopped to enjoy lunch and a short rest. It was good to walk a few kinks out but my booty was dreaming about a hot tub followed by soft foam cushions! Lunch, which was included with our ride, was an Italian sandwich with thick slices of ham, pepperoni, and salami, chips, and sugar-free root beer. We had been able to choose what we wanted for lunch and I really enjoyed it.

We continued our ride along the Allegheny Mountain Trail until it intersected the road. A short ride up the road took us back to the horse trailer where I was more than ready to dismount. A car seat was never more comfortable! I needed to stretch my legs before the drive home, and was happy when Marta suggested a short hike. We drove to Spruce Knob Lake and walked the trail that encircles the lake. The sun was still shining but the temperature was starting to drop by the time we headed back to the car. Neither of us were hungry and we didn’t stop to eat dinner on the way home. I can honestly say that not eating was a huge step beyond normal for me!

From the top, clockwise: Seneca Creek, Gandy Creek, Milkweed seeds, Spruce Knob Lake,

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