‘Tis is the season for desert camping
It’s still desert season. If you’ve never been camping in the desert with your horse — or if you’ve ever been — there is one camp you should not miss. Stage Coach Trails and Horse Camp is fantastic for first timers and seasoned camp veterans.
Large sites, hookups for those of you with luxury model trailers, restrooms, showers and laundry for those of us with basic trailer accommodations, you will be comfortable for an overnight stay or a weeklong adventure.
From individual camp sites to group reservations, Stage Coach often has group activities and provides a large covered group area as well as an indoor community gathering hall. Live band music, speakers on various topics and games are among the activities offered from time to time by Stage Coach staff. They have a small general store on site, too, and that’s rare at a horse camp.
Individual and group campfires are enjoyed this time of year. Barbecue grills are available at many of the campsites for use, another rare thing at horse camp. Corrals are near campsites and have water available for your horse. Most are 10 by 10, but a few are larger. You can ask when making reservations, and the staff is helpful and friendly.
Horseshoe pits, round pen, a riding arena and a wash rack for your equine will add to your camp experience.
Stage Coach is one of my favorite places to camp with Cricket. It is one of the camps my friends will stay at with me. It’s easy to get to, and the trails shoot out from several locations at camp. Most are single track and cactus lined, so vehicles are not present on most trails in this part of Anza Borrego. Across the little traveled highway are even more trails to ride and explore.
I have never seen water running or even around this area, but I have many more trail miles that I need to discover. Most trail tread is loose sand covering hard pack, and, if you’ve never ridden in the desert and have a barefoot horse, pay attention to her feet often. The sand acts like a huge file grinding away hoof material and your horses’ feet can become sore and even raw. Cricket is barefoot, so I pay close attention as I ride with her through the sand.
Desert cactus can be a hazard to your horse’s legs so perform a good check upon returning to camp after each ride. Most look like little white hairs, so really look to assure you don’t get home and find a sore or infected leg days later.
As with any desert camp and riding experience, be prepared for anything. The trick is layers of clothing that are easy to remove or add while mounted, and layers of blankets that you can add or throw off in the middle of the dark night. Weather can change in the desert in 10 minutes or less any time, day or night, so please don’t go for the weekend that you heard is supposed to have “nice” weather solely under that assumption. Be prepared every single time you visit.
I often think to myself, “Camp is far from home, far from anything. What do I need for Cricket and myself to live for the weekend (or however long I plan to stay)?” I gather all of that, then go get more just in case.
I always take two extra feedings for her, at least. What if I get stuck down there due to weather or vehicle problems? There is no hay store around the corner. There are water spigots to use to water your horse, but you need your own hose as with any camp experience, and I’d recommend one or two 75-foot hoses that are in really good condition. I just keep this stuff and more in my trailer at all times.
Stage Coach is a privately run camp. You can check out www.stagecoachtrails.com. Click on Tour to see the camp layout and amenities. The website has a listing of all fees and a ton of information to make it easy for you to know what to expect when you get there.
From Ramona the camp is about an hour away, right at the bottom of the S2. Easy to get to and a great experience for any equestrian camper.
Karen Carlson, a Ramona resident, is past president of Ramona Trails Association and a trails advocate. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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