We hadn’t seen each other in weeks so it was with much glee that we realized we could both get away from our respective responsibilities for a couple of hours together last Saturday. So, where to go with only three hours? When you’re hiking with a best friend, any space is sacred space, but still, we didn’t want to just tromp up and down Main Street with trekking poles. It was a hot July day so our best bet for some relief from the heat on a close-to-town route was the shady Day Ranch Trail.  

The Day Ranch Trail is a bridge-to-bridge section of the Weaver Basin Trail system that starts at the East Weaver Creek Campground bridge and meanders upstream along the creek for about a mile and a half until it hits the bridge at the end of East Weaver Creek Road.  We love this section of trail. Besides the shade, there are a variety of flowers depending on the season, and always song birds singing. Lots of lovely.

This time, instead of starting at the campground bridge we decided to mix it up a bit and started where the Weaver Basin Trail crosses East Weaver Creek Road about a mile before the campground. This added some extra mileage and would be perfect for our allotted time.

As close as the Weaver Basin Trails are to Weaverville, we usually don’t run into many other hikers; maybe one or two, and maybe a mountain bike or two. But on this day, we discovered that we would be sharing the trail with about 50 horse and rider teams participating in an annual Fourth of July endurance ride. We had a quick huddle and agreed it would be fun. We like horses.  

The Day Ranch Trail is single track, and, it turns out, exactly the width of a horse. No matter, we would just step out of the way. We debated over etiquette and finally remembered that hikers should step off on the downhill side so if a horse spooked at us it would jump uphill. Several horses had to go between us when we stepped off opposite sides of the trail before reaching consensus, but they seemed to take it in stride.

Over time, we got used to each other. The horses that were on the 50-mile route were lapping us. And lapping us. And lapping us. We got to know them. Beautiful animals in shades of chestnut, bay and gray, ears forward and eager to cover ground.

When we got to the bridge at the end of the trail, we had to decide whether to turn around and walk back the way we came, thus getting to spend more quality time with the horses, or walk back along the road. We like horses, but we chose the road. 

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