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Through the Valley & Up the Headwall

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4/19/10, Abiquiu Dam, NM - I spent most of my free time this weekend writing a new Top Hand story.  Thatís How the West Was is another adventure, centered on ĎSandyí, a tough cowgirl on a modern day ranch.  Well, it was supposed to be a modern ranch!  If you havenít read the other stories, they are linked via the ĎMy Storiesí page of the website.

I also spent a few hours helping my hostess, Liz, work with their two saddle horses. Both of the horses were very green under saddle, but have had some excellent ground work. Both Liz and I had a great time, nobody got pitched, and all of the lessons ended on good notes - not a bad day of horse training when youíre dealing with green horses.

After saying goodbye to my host and hostess, I hitched up Bob and Doc and hit the road.  A few people stopped to take pictures or say ĎHií, including Kevin, from K&J Farms, an Egg Ranch. Kevin has 2000 chickens, and sells 750 Ďungradedí dozens of eggs a week.  He asked me to stop by his place, 3 miles down the road for some nice gifts.  When I got there, he and his wife used a little wagon to haul 50 pounds of oats, a bale of alfalfa and a dozen eggs up the hill.

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There are good folks at K&J Farms. They make every effort to deliver their gifts at curbside!

All day, I was traveling up U.S. 84, which runs alongside the Chama river. During the morning hours, the river ran next to quite a few houses that were nestled alongside itís banks.

I stopped for lunch in near a package store, a few miles south of the town of Abiquiu.

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A common sight in ranch country - a couple of saddled-up cowponies in an old stock trailer.

As I headed up river, the valley began to narrow, taking on the appearance of a canyon, with high mesas on both sides.

I met a lot of folks in the afternoon, including one guy who left me with a $20 donation.

Sometimes people seem a little embarrassed that they have taken my picture.  As the wagon comes abreast of their car, they quickly roll up the window and speed away - heck, I donít bite, that hard!

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Starting the climb up the headwall of the valley, just below Abiquiu Dam.  The road got pretty steep, and the shoulder disappeared.

The last big hurdle for the dayís travel was the headwall, just below the Abiquiu dam. I was tempted to change out Bob for Bill, leaving me with the two most willing horses hitched up to climb the hill. But, this would have meant getting the other harness out of the trailer, and I was too lazy to make the effort. So, with a, ďBob & Doc, Get Up There!Ē we headed up the hill.

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Looking down at the Chama river, about three hundred feet below us.

Several people have warned me that this was the steepest part of my journey, while Iím in New Mexico. However, the grade was only about 7 or 8%. Before I saw it, I had bad visions of a 15 to 20% grade, which would require something to tow us up.

We settled in at a roadside park about 80% of the way up the hill (the steepest part is behind us).  In addition to their hay, the team has a bunch of buffalo grass to munch on, which is just starting to turn green,

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The campsite, looking down valley at the towering mesas, on the west side of the river.

I donít have an internet signal tonight, so Iíll have to post this at a future time. Ever since I was in the City of Espanola, I havenít even seen a hint of an AT&T signal, so I donít know when Iíll be getting one,

This was a pretty good day!