Our God is an Awesome God; He reigns (and sometimes rains) from Heaven above with wisdom, and power, and love.  Today we were blessed by His reign and His rain.  By 400p when we dismounted we were wet but no worse for the wear.  All in all, a great day.  Don’t think I could bring myself to choose getting rained on, but I am thankful for the entire day, including the rain.
Banjo, aka Skinny, was the jewel of the ride for sure.  It was iffy at the outset and Walker had already
fetched Frisco from the field to replace Skinny.  Skinny was not keen on the whole trailer deal.  He wasn’t particularly worried about it, it just didn’t appeal to him.  Debra pulled him away, while Walker went to fetch Frisco, and refreshed him on the basics of his training.  Then she sent him onto the trailer rather than asking him to follow.  Well, why didn’t you say so, was his response and voilà  – he’s loaded.  Same thing on the return trip, only a lot faster.  Banjo had lots of new experiences but handled everything like a pro.  Makes a great leader and sets a good pace.
Want to try and get all the “ride” detail down for future reference.  I really like the Lewis Fork Trail and hope to ride it again.  So, this may get lengthy.  We parked at the day parking beside the Livery.  Left at a few minutes til 1000a.  Up the road, over thru the Livery fields, thru the wooden gate, and left onto Orchard Spur Trail.  Ride to a 4-way intersection.  Straight ahead = “Trail Closed”.  Left goes to ???, likely down to 603.  We turn right, up the hill remaining on Orchard Spur Trail.  Short distance from the 4-way another Closed trail goes off to the left.  Continue to the connection with Old Orchard Trail.  Right onto Old Orchard would go back down to 603.  We go left toward Lewis Fork Trail.  There is a wooden sign labeling OOT.  Not far until we cross the Appalachian Trail.  This section is really pretty and almost level.  Right after crossing the AT, just off the trail to the left is the Old Orchard Shelter.  Notice the BOULDERS thru here.  Hop, skip, jump and arrive at the Lewis Fork Trail as the stick of a Y intersection.  Down and to the right on LFT would go back down to 603.  We go ahead and slightly left onto LFT.  Time stamp here is 1108a.
Back to a gradual climb and to the crossing of Cliffside Trail (no horses), 1132a.  Marching on to the connection with Lewis Fork Spur Trail in a switchback on LFT.  Nice place for a potty break, or at least we thought so.  Suspect LFST goes, yep, back down to 603.  Time stamp 1200p.  Now on thru the Rocky Stretch to the wooden gate labelled simply “Lewis Fork”, 1242p.  After the gate – no intersection, just a gate – not far to the meadow and the intersection with Cliffside again coming up from the left.  Crest Trail is just ahead.  Grazed a bit in the meadow.  101p connect with Crest Trail.  Left on Crest goes to the Scales.  We go right toward Rhododendron Gap, but eat first.  Excellent spot for lunch.  Stand of trees with hitching rails, lots of grassy spots, logs, rocks, and panoramic vistas (not short visitors).  Longhorn cattle grazing off to the left of us.  Quite a few other folks had the same idea.  We got a spot on the fringe and tied to trees.  Picnicked on the grass with Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar and black grapes, yum.  There was some other food too, but I love cheese and grapes.  Only thing better is cheese and really old grapes, from oak barrels.  Was a perfect opportunity for a nap, but we pressed onward.  See pics from here of Deb/Clem with the mountains in the background. Not sure what time we left our picnic.  We headed toward Rhododendron Gap hoping for blooms.  There were none, so we turned back on Crest Trail toward the Scales.  Passed our picnic spot at 219p.  Longhorn mama with a gorgeous calf owned the trail.  We went around.
Just after coming out of the woods, we were BLINDSIDED by a monsoon.  Monsoon Madonna rained so hard so fast and from nowhere that we were WET before we could get our dusters on!  We picked up the pace back to the Scales and headed off the mountain.  This whole time rain poured on us, thunder BOOMED over us, and lightening darted around, but not close to us that I could tell.  Banjo took it all in stride.  He was a little unsure of Walker’s duster flying like a flag as he struggled to get it on, but that was the only thing that seemed to get his attention.  We took the trail down and hit Walker’s shortcut to get back to the trailer at 400p.
The rain had dwindled to almost nothing by the time we got to the road again.  Loaded up pretty quick after untacking and headed home.  I’m pretty sure my saddle bags weighed close to 40 lbs. when I took them off TLH.  Ok, maybe not quite 40, but they were h e a v y.  Poor TLH.  Was glad Debra had clothes in the trailer.  A dry shirt felt so cozy.
Not a lot of pics from the day, but here they are:
Click here Soggy Boot Saga

Our ride, from Nat Geo Trails Illustrated Map #786.

According to my gps track:
Total Distance 14.0 miles
Total Time 6:02:12
MOVING Time 3:57:24
Avg Speed 2.3 mph
Avg MOVING Speed 3.5 mph
Min Elevation 3211′
Max Elevation 5046′