Lost Silvermine Horse Camp, Natchaug State Forest, CT; State #29

mares in their corral

mares in their corral

tiny orange mushrooms

tiny orange mushrooms

on the picket line

on the picket line

a cross of light

a cross of light

other camper's horses

other camper’s horses

my mares

my mares



Liza on her perfect ride (on the perfect horse, Dreamy)

Liza on her perfect ride (on the perfect horse, Dreamy)

Next stop Connecticut. I lived there when I was in 7th or 8th grade. It was a very bad year but most adolescents feel that way.

Lost Silvermine Horse Camp, CT, state #29
We drove up to Augusta to prep for leaving Saturday. Upon repacking the trailer to accommodate my sister’s things, I found a cabinet full of wet mildewy clothes. I have so many leaks in this roof its so odd, they appear at different places all the time. Why can’t I get it all sealed up? I got up on the roof with my tube of stuff while Liza ran my stuff with bleach in Kate’s machine. All the other prep went pretty smoothly. In the middle of all it I decided that I had to go to Acadia in Maine instead of what I had chosen. Everyone raves about Acadia, so I spent quite a bit of time on rearranging that, I had to add an overnight (which I will take away from the previous stop in Rhode Island instead of juggling what follows Maine) and I had to be sure I had the required vaccinations and papers to prove it (I didn’t but my CA vet, Dr Bamford, will email them to me next week). The vet came for a rabies booster and new health papers (CVI’s). Kate’s hay farmer friend dropped 10 bales by my truck for me. The last night there Kate took us to a lovely country restaurant called the Walpack Inn. They had a great salad bar and Liza and I shared a surf and turf. I told her to eat up cuz we won’t be eating like that in the trailer, lol.

The drive to the CT camp was ok, I’m a little tense driving again and its so different having a human passenger. It took longer than projected as usual. Upon entering the camp I just parked it in the road. It is very tight with big trees all around. I didn’t see how I could get into a spot nor how I was going to make the loop when came time to leave. I got out and unloaded the horses, set up a corral and then went to talk to some campers here. One said her boyfriend who is a truck driver was on his way and he would be happy to park it for me, and he did, no problem. He turned it around, backed it in, pulled it out going towards the exit and backed it back into our spot again. All in about 5 minutes…I am in awe of what professional truckers can do. The campers here are all locals with a bunch of kids too. They are sleeping in tents. Maybe 10 horses all together. They are super friendly and helpful. One told me to be careful that the trails aren’t marked well and that she always gets lost…

The only amenities here are a vault toilet filled with spiders and a hand pump water spigot (not potable!). I had a days worth of horse water up on top of the hay rack and thanks to Jack Challis I have a 5 gallon water tank that I can use with my hand cart (no way can I carry it full). An old DEF fluid funnel worked great in getting the water from the tap to the tank. It takes 95 pumps to fill it up. I’ve done it 3 times today. I am going to be so buff when I leave here. And stinky, and bitten up…

Today we rode a short ride that turned out not so short, not nearly as short as Liza would of liked. I got the horses ready and then it started raining. We went out anyway. The trail markers are not very good and my gps batteries died half way out. After I replaced them it started a new “track” so I couldn’t see my original one. I forgot to put my paper map in a plastic cover and it was unusable by then. The bugs were absolutely horrendous. There was a swarm around Wildflowers head most of the time and she was going nuts. And YES, I did wipe them down with bug repellant before. I knew where camp was but was getting nervous about Liza, this was only her second ride ever and she was convinced we were doomed, and she was sore. She got off and walked a while while I went back and forth, ponying Dreamy, looking for the right trail. Eventually I told her she had to remount that this was not safe. We stopped at a farmhouse on the road and got directions. We ended up doing a few miles on a dirt, gravel road and the horses were getting ouchy. It was not a great ride for Liza and she said she isn’t riding any more on this trip. I should of rested them today as usual, I should of taken the first ride out alone to scout out an easy short trail for my sister. Oh well, I should not say should, right? I just will learn from this.

All the other campers left a bit ago, they came by to tell me a big thunderstorm with hail was on its way…great. They left me a bunch of firewood and Jason, the truck driver, gave me his phone number for hay before I leave.

Oh, and my electric corral is not hot. I have fiddled with everything, no zap. I suppose after the thunderstorm hits my horses will break out. There were 5 loose ones here in the morning today. I went and woke the other campers up to round them up. One of their horses pulls the stakes to their portable electric fence up out of the ground with his teeth. Clever. I had set up a picket line earlier but am hesitant to leave them tied to it. I’ve never done it overnight and I still have nightmares about when Wildflower hog tied herself when she was tied years ago. The hair on her legs never grew back in places and getting her freed up was terrifying.

The thunder has been audible for the last several hours, but no rain yet…oh here it comes now. Going to eat and sleep thru the bad weather. Hopefully tomorrow will be a nice day. I am going to paint the NJ painting and the mares will get their rest day. Liza has a book…

Well it wasn’t a nice day. It started out ok weather wise. It stopped raining but was pretty muggy but there are not the swarms of bugs in camp, besides the mosquitos anyway. I unhitched the trailer and set off to Tractor Supply to replace my solar fence charger. My phone gps got lost then gave up on me. My truck gps was no help either, we must be in a kind of black hole here. A friendly dog walker came up to my truck and directed me to a closer Tractor Supply. I ended up buying a marine battery, a fence charger and a charger to recharge the marine battery. Then got a plastic box at Walmart to keep it all in (it can’t get wet I was told). No big deal but I had just tossed a plastic box in NJ to make room. I didn’t exchange the solar one, he said it was just not fully charged enough to make the fence hot, he said it has to be in direct sun. The box it came in had said it would hold a charge for cloudy days but obviously it doesn’t. So now I have both, the solar one is a lot easier to use in sunny areas, and much lighter so I kept it.
It was a money draining day…my verizon phone wouldn’t work so I had to pay for another month and extra data which I guess I had used up even tho I haven’t been using it for the last month and a half. I turned on the generator to charge the house batteries and to print out a photo to work from (I was going to paint the NJ painting) and it shut off immediately. Liza asked if that was supposed to happen…I said nothing that is happening is supposed to happen…It was blinking 3 times which I figured was an error code. I dug thru my papers and figured out what it meant. It said “call an authorized Onan dealer”. Long frustrating story short: Kevin showed up here in camp around 4 and found a short in the conduit from the generator to the house plug. This was rewired in FL. That bill was $1,500. They did not do it the best way possible. It got pinched under the trailer, it is not protected well enough. Kevin told me what to buy and showed me what to do to get me safer until I can get the line replaced by an electrician. He also explained some of the generator to me that I didn’t understand. It is not a strong recharge that it does, it mostly is to run stuff inside the trailer while it is on. He also suggested replacing all my house lights with led bulbs to reduce consumption. His bill will be over $500 with travel and overtime. It is now working but he said it will happen again if the wire doesn’t get more protection. I have no desire to primitive camp any more.

This is not starting out to be a good “leg” (I’ve been referring to this as leg #3; CT to NM, my remaining 20 states). I got pretty upset, but I didn’t cry, questioning why I am doing this. It is so frustrating when things mechanically go wrong. The whole generator issue is infuriating, wiring, the electric fence, the gps, getting lost in the woods with my sister getting scared and all, the pouring rain, the constant money pouring out for stupid stuff, the biting flies and mosquitoes…I had to keep stopping and thanking God for my breath, my beating heart, my children, my animals, my sanity, for the beauty in nature. It is how I deal with adversity now and it is pretty effective.

In the middle of all this I got a call from Quad Graphics about a sales job for their Huntington Beach, CA facility. They caught me totally off guard, I thought it was the Onan dealer calling me back. I explained that I was in the forest horse camping and that my generator was in need of repair and that I had kind of given up my job search to do this trip…but what exactly was the job. I thought I sounded awful but she said “that’s cool”.

It is not the market I sold in, it is for signage and point of purchase products. I have a phone interview set up for next Monday. I will in Acadia Maine and hope I will be feeling more confident by then. If this turns into a real potential opportunity I will have to accept it. Welcome it. Even if it means cutting my trip short. How strange is it that in the middle of my frustrations and failures I get this call? It can not be a coincidence. Its entirely possible they overlooked my age by accident or that I will not come across well on the phone or that it will not pay enough for me to live on in that pricey area or that I will have to leave my horses in Idaho, but I hope it works out. It is a glimmer of hope and I sorely need that right now.

Today looks to be a much nicer day. I can see sun up in the tree canopy, peeking thru. My lawyer finally responded to my requests for an update on my divorce project. No results but at least he seems to be addressing it now. My oldest texted me for money, his dad has not been funding him as expected and he is behind on his rent (he is in college there). Not sure how you can leave a kid stranded in Spain like this…but I am not totally surprised.

It is so quiet here. And cool (temperature wise). But I don’t like it here. I want to leave.

Well we survived thru our 4 night primitive stay in CT. We still have a little house water left and are still on the first set of propane tanks, so we don’t have to conserve quite as much as we did. Good to know.

Yesterday we did a one hour out and back ride which was perfect for Liza and the bugs weren’t as bad for the horses either. It was a beautiful sunny day which I found out when I went to run errands. The tree canopy is so dense here you hardly know what the sky looks like. I did their feet, did the electrician’s recommended protecting of the electrical line, went to a bank to deposit my portion of mom’s IRA and wire money to Brad in Spain, dumped our trash in a restaurant dumpster, got the truck tires filled, got gas, rewrapped the 3 bales of hay we have left in the truck bed, and basically started prepping to leave tomorrow. I really want to get out of here. I did not paint as I had hoped tho.

Last night I had so many bad dreams…I think its just because I am anxious about pulling the trailer out of this camp site. There is deep sand to avoid (I wish I had 4 wheel drive but I don’t) and so many close big trees and boulders. We fed everybody and now its time to hitch up the trailer and move it. I don’t want it hanging over my head all day.

We have a short drive to Rhode Island today, under 100 miles. We are not going to the primitive camp I had planned. I’ve had enough of this. Its not that I mind the extra work or not being able to shower regularly or having lights on all the time, its the worrying about running out of electricity or propane or water. Silly I guess. We are going to a stable in the same area where I can plug the trailer in and the horses will be in a barn stall. They have running water too. And hay. Ahh the pleasures of civilization.

6 thoughts on “Lost Silvermine Horse Camp, Natchaug State Forest, CT; State #29

  1. Greetings Kathy. I trust you’ll make it to Stepping Stone Ranch in RI today. Joni and I (coincidentally also a Joan—I was riding the buckskin mare) enjoyed our chat with you in Silvermine Horse Camp earlier today. You didn’t elaborate but I sensed there was a powerful backstory to your adventure, and in the way (again) of coincidence I see that you and I share some history of loss, from the circumstances of divorce, and (in my case) farm, lifestyle, career, beloved father-in law and animals, mother and father, two close friends, all within 18 months of each other. The only thing that got me going some mornings was knowing that because I still felt solace in nature and beauty I wasn’t a ready candidate for suicide (I resented that fact sometimes), and my wonderful mare was also alive even if in another’s care, although she and my dog would soon reach their maximum ages and pass. It was like experiencing the flip side of what happens when you get enlightenment as reported by many mystics when they quip “you still have to split wood and carry water.” Same for “getting” betrayal, tragedy, death, disease, overwhelming fatigue and despondency. Here’s your ax. Here’s your pail. Hence your excellent SCHLEP instructions: do it anyway. May you make it through this riding (and etc.) adventure and into your next, and next….Namaste P.S. Apologies to you on behalf of Connecticut’s less-than-optimal horse park experience—–and do check yourselves for ticks. Despite its clear shortcomings I appreciate how it’s kept me and some dear friends Prozac-less for decades:)

      • Hi- What are the best New england camps and trails for one or two nighter stays with a single mare to corral or stable? Are there any real paddocks with fences to put her in? Ill be headed north to Acadia in July and south back to Florida in late August

  2. Are you staying at Wildwood Stables in Acadia? If so the cell coverage there is spotty at best. Make sure you find out where in town to go to for good coverage for your interview. Have fun riding the carriage trails. Make sure you go to the top of Day Mt. Good photo opportunities and far less bicyclists. Bubble and Jordan Pond loop is also recommended.

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