Saw a cool waterfall, some great ocean vistas, a couple of nice peaceful lakes, and lots of nice flowers. Unfortunately going early in the season like this means you see not only lots of nice flowers, but the brush has grown up over the trails and you get to crash through lots of weeds (remember, in California there is a rainy season — “winter” — and a dry season, and the native brush grows in the rainy season). Of course I knew this, which is why I was wearing long pants and a long-sleeve shirt. Still: Stinging nettles. A non-native, but they came here with the cattle, they were spread by cattle and are all over the place. One got me on the leg thru my pants, one got me on my little finger. These buggers *sting*.
Oh yeah, my gripe. Human beings evolved in a damp place. We have large feet, compared to our weight, to be able to walk across soft ground without sinking into it. Horses, on the other hand, evolved on dry high plains. Their feet are fairly small compared to their weight to be able to dig into the hard turf and get traction on it. So what happens when you put horses onto soft trails? The horse hits the soft spot and churns it into mud, that’s what. And furthermore, because horses don’t like mud (they’re plains critters, duh), when horses see a churned mudhole they’ll bypass it to the left or right… and churn *that* into mud. Remember, this was just soft ground until the horses came through, soft ground that us humans could walk across with no problem. So I’m pushing through brush on a single-track trail, and suddenly there’s this *bog* that’s five feet wide churned to the viscosity of motor oil by horse hooves!
So here’s the deal, horse people: Pick a line through the soft spot, and stick to it, so us humans can bypass the churned mud to its left or right. If you can’t do that, turn around and go home. I’m not kidding. Doing the shit you’re doing is going to get *all* horses banned from this park because this is a democracy and in a democracy the majority rules and the majority doesn’t have horses and if horses turn into a nuisance in the parks, the majority will simply ban them from the parks. Is that what you want? If so, yer doin’ it right (wrong)!
– Badtux the Hiking Penguin