April 25 - 29, 2013

by Redhorse

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          The Pole Canyon Ranch (PCR) started coming up in conversation around the campfire at trailrides a few years back.  Having spent considerable time at Caprock Canyons with wagon trains and trailriding groups for years, I was bewildered that such a great place existed. I evaluated the 64 miles of Rails-to-Trails conversion (from South Plains to Estelline) for Texas Parks & Wildlife back in the ‘90s.  I’d even been to the White Mule Cemetery and as luck would have it, it’s a stones throw from the ranch!

          Well, now I have discovered this new SHINING STAR on Trailriders Bucket Lists!  It is a great camping place and the trails are perfect for all kinds of riders.  The ranch is six-thousand (6,000) acres located eight (8) miles southwest of Quitaque, Texas (horse manure, the real meaning of the Indian word, Quitaque).  Phil & Lynnette Barefield manage the PCR and have made it an exciting destination for many. The facilities include a nostalgic guesthouse, RV sites, horse pens, group shelter; a bath facility is available for primitive camping, picnic areas and lots of wide open spaces. Currently, there is no dump station but knowing Phil, that’s just a matter of time. There are over 40 miles of ranch trails and unlimited deer and natural riding trails to accommodate easy to difficult riding. Shoes are recommended (but Miss Kitty and others that are adapted to rough terrain fared well).

           Trailriders are always drawn to a campfire.  When riders ride into camp like they just left Charles Goodnight at the stockpens, it gets your curiosity up.  Mix in some good country music coming from a couple of riders with guitars, and you’ve got a gathering.  After handing out some Trailriders Journal stick-on calendars, singer Mike Rickwa from Gainesville, TX, spoke up and asked me, “Do you know Don Hoover”?  (I’d bought a Zippo Pine Bar gelding, “Cody”, from him at the Ranch Horse Sale at the Fort Worth Stock Show years ago). Yup, it’s a small world even in a pasture, in Caprock country, of the Texas Panhandle! Mike did a great Johnny Cash song; "I've Been Everywhere"! and Leo did Wynn Stewart's, "They Call Me A Playboy".

          Probably some of the first riders to discover PCR, in its early days, were Ed Moore, Misty Valdez, Christina Martin, Floyd Starkey, Tom Merritt & Bobby Cohorn.  All but Floyd were there during this ride.  Having someone familiar with the trails and lay of the land is reassuring on a maiden trip.  (Of course, this bunch has to be not-so-distant relatives of Evil Knievel!) Roads take you through the creeks and climb to high points where you can see distant communities like Flomot, Quitaque and beyond.  The creeks that run through the two branches of the Pole Canyon offer 10 degrees cooler riding in the shade and plenty of fresh water.  While riding through the creeks with Misty and Christina on Friday, a buzzard soared overhead carrying a snake in its beak; like a cat wanting you to brag on his catch! It wasn’t comfortable thinking he might let go of his prize!

          The 42nd Bob Wills Days Celebration was in progress during our stay at PCR. We spruced up Friday afternoon and headed into Quitaque for supper and then headed on to Turkey to catch Jake Hooker’s dance music.  Richard Chambliss from Winters, TX, had spent the two previous days camped with his horse on his lot in Turkey.  The lot is catty-cornered from the school where all the Bob Wills Days activities were held. Misty had pre-ordered fried pies (including Bob’s favorite, apricot) to support the Turkey cheerleaders.  There was a lot of boot scootin’ and tappin’ during the evening. Ed & Sandy Moore polished their belt buckles and we all had a great time.  For our group, turn in time is around the same time the band started playing!  We enjoyed the evening and hit the trails around 9:00 the next morning.

          Saturday we enjoyed an adventure filled ride with Bobby Cohorn and Tom Merritt.  After exploring the deer trails, we visited a picnic area and soaked up some of the shade offered by the mesquites.  These are the kind of rests that bring out good stories and happy knees! We wrapped up a good day with a ribeye supper and a campfire of good country music fellowship.

          Sunday’s ride took us through some high points and new approaches to landmarks. We probably set some new records on reining and logistic ideas.  Great fun!  Misty and I spent a wonderful afternoon with Bobby & Carolynn Cohorn.  Their home oversees a vast part of Caprock Canyon. The view is breathtaking and wildlife shares it with them; wild turkeys passed as we sat at the picture window.  A drive to a vehicle turnout area on the shortcut to Silverton was spectacular.  It made us realize just how massive the Caprock Canyons are.  We paid a visit to the Visitor’s Center where I met the cousin of Bill Winton of Goldthwaite, TX.  Joyce was watching the clock as it ticked off her last fifteen (15) minutes of being employed by TP&W over 15 years.  She autographed the last document she issued as a Caprock Canyon employee for Bobby.  We enjoyed a great meal & visit at the Cohorn home.

          Pole Canyon Ranch is definitely on my list of preferable trails and campsites.  If you want to get away from the rat race, this is the place for your! Phil & Lynnette Barefield have focused on the needs of trailriders; along with hikers, birders or just folks that are looking for radiant sunrises & sunsets with an abundance of peace and quiet. 



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Pole Canyon Brochure





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