I Ride Into The Painted Desert

Join Starboy and me on a ride from 2009, at the wild rim of Southern California’s Antelope Valley desert — where mountains, trees, and sagebrush encircle the vast desert floor. Breathtaking!

I went to that area today and photographed some of the scenery.


Desert Vista

I ride into the painted desert, along the rim.

On my Bay steed, my companion.

Willing mount who trods wherever I bid.

A massive gray thundercloud, miles-wide — hear the clap — marches our way across the barren expanse.

Dark wisps of raindrops, like a moustache, drape downward, with a twirl, never reaching the distant desert floor.

Beside the solemn advance looms a white swath of creamy cloudtops punctuating the adjacent darkness.

The depth, the contrast, the subject, reminds me of a painting by one of the masters.

Remington couldn’t have captured it better.

Trees atop the rim

I stop the Bay to breathe in the sight.

Oak trees line the nearest hillside.

Sagebrush paints the meadow pale green.

All draped in the deepening drama of the approaching darkness.

A cool wind whips through the Bay’s tangled mane.

Starboy Mane Silhouette

Up here in the foothills, we create our own artwork.

Little buckwheat flowers paint a burnished backdrop to horse and rider.

I watch his sleek neck move against their endless faces, picking his way across the wash.

Finding the single track trail, we wind up a steep section, turn back on ourselves at the Manzanita bush, and keep climbing.

Here at the ridge, the trail looses clarity. Animal paths are easy to confuse.

Buckwheat on the Rim

We pick what appears to be the best one, and I lose my hat, plucked by scrub and fallen steeply below.

I’m lucky I don’t lose my neck!

The brush is grown over — a deer trail. Not tall enough for horse and rider.

We follow their rut into a scratchy branch that comes to my chin.

The angle of the slope, the agility of my mount are hard to describe.

Almost defying gravity!

At this point, there are few options of retreat. We’re in too deep.

Buckwheat flowers

The Bay waits as I manage to contort and duck beneath.

Picking our way, pushing branches, my arm bleeds in the process.

Ah, reuniting now with the bigger path. Out of the brambles.

The trail drops down the steep grade, but my Bay keeps his steady, light pace.


Listening for my coaxing.

Starboy's mane

Climbing toward the next ridgeline, we traverse another falling-out section.

Then onto a jeep trail headed below.

A wizened drop hits my arm.

And another.

As much as the desert, straining upward, wants a drink, this cloud fizzles.

The darkness engulfs us now, sputtering.

Yet the brightness stays along side, illuminating hope.

Silver Lined Oak

I decide to go back and retrieve the hat. My new red one.

We head back up to the ridgeline.

I dismount and lead the Bay down a narrow furrow —  my but he’s agile.

We come out above it, have to drop down.

Bend down.

Arm stretched.

Got it!

Trees and scrub


I ride into the painted desert, along the rim.

On my Bay steed, my companion.

Who listens and keeps good care of me.

Into vistas of vastness and landscapes of eternity.

It really doesn’t get much better than this!

Desert Vista


Copyright 2009, 2014



June 30, 2014 · 12:44 pm

8 responses to “I Ride Into The Painted Desert

  1. Amazing what one sees from the back of a horse! Thanks for sharing your vista from atop the Bay!

    • :)) Thanks for riding along . . . Each ride is different, even to the same place, on the same trail. And the ride that day stood out — so much that I pulled over and wrote the backbone of the piece before even leaving the ranch.

      • I’m glad you did! I’ll be checking back for more visual rides. I started riding when I was 3 years old and horses are imprinted on my soul! I had an Appaloosa gelding when I was in college and all my little girl dreams came true. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a horse owner, but I still appreciate whatever opportunities I have to ride.

  2. That was a great ride, but I think I lost my purple hat back there and I can’t find it.

  3. I enjoyed reading and seeing your journey in the desert on your beloved horse.. Lovely! Thank you for allowing us to travel with you. I look forward to more.

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