Wednesday, April 15, 2015

training challenges

I had planned on about 15 miles with some good elevation thrown in to boot. Since they were having a race over my usual trails (this time I paid attention, unlike last time!) I headed over to Cronan ranch. I've ridden here a few times, usually with friends. Once on the trails I remembered why: the trails are not very interesting alone. As both Major and I figured out…but that's later in the story.

But the trails were green and pretty as I started off in the morning from a very empty staging area.

just my trailer, alone in the staging area

big head horse syndrome (honestly, it's so hard to take good photos!)

riding with our shadow
American River views

The trail connects one staging area to the larger Cronan ranch. I love the views following above the river, and then up to the old movie set. And then we started up the hills! The first hill set was great, saw a couple hikers and that was all. The main trails are all fire roads, but we detoured down the back side to a nicer single track on the west side ravine. Then up the hill again.

old movie set

up a hill, then repeat

the trail ahead and behind

west side oak

headless horse
I found this butterfly while resting in the shade
Major was happy to stop at the top for a snack, then we headed across the ridge, admiring the sentinel oaks, and stopping for the first rattlesnake of the year! I got off and threw some rocks near it, and it slowly ambled off the trail. I made sure it was well away before walking quickly by!

sentinel oak stands watch on the ridge

first rattlesnake!

Major thinks "we're going all the way over there?"

We headed down the hill, where we were passed on the uphill by some cyclists, and out into the wide valley and across to the other side. Where Major lost all hope that we'd ever get home again. He kept wanting to turn the wrong way, as I was headed for the trailer, but he isn't used to the trails and I think he was a bit turned around!

more east ridge fire road

view back across the valley, we were on the ridge to the right

crazy hair Major asks "are we there yet?"

And I probably didn't help either. I am unmotivated by wide dirt roads: I love a snaking single track along a cliff, I am uninspired by exposed hard-packed roads, even if the view is pleasant. So we walked, and I got off and slogged alongside, until we got to the incorrectly spelled "connecter" trail back to the trailer, and found some hope after all!

"Now are we there yet?" almost
 There is a mile long switchback back down the hill, shaded and lovely, so I ran down it with Major clumping along behind. He is a most ungraceful beast downhill, but we slow trotted all but the steepest of sections. I did stop and let some more cyclists go past (they were coming UP the hill, way harder) and at the bottom we paused in the lovely little creek.

Which of course Major would not drink out of, after 15 miles, sigh. But I decided it was easier to sponge him off in the creek than back at the trailer, and after that he felt great! He was cool and refreshed and thought we should run the last mile back to the trailer. We did not. But I let him trot and canter just a little bit, before walking back the last half mile. I untacked and took Major over to eat some more grass.

I was standing there mentally evaluating how hard it is to train alone, how boring trails are even harder, questioning if I can even do this: you know all the self doubt. When a tiny ladybug took a rest on Major's copper butt. That pretty little scene made me smile. Because it wasn't the training I expected, but I rode my horse and he behaved and we did some (slow) elevation and now a tiny creature is resting alongside us. It took that little thing to made me smile: I need to reevaluate what I am worrying about and appreciate the bigger picture.

Major and the ladybug


  1. I loved this post on so many levels! Your photos always make me smile.

    The ladybug was definitely a sign!

    1. Thanks. I loved the ladybug, definitely make me think.

    2. Oh no, very much alive! He slithered off into the weeds. I made sure he was long gone

  2. That connecter trail really gets me. I assume a fire road is a road built specifically for fire crews to access fires from? Such an odd concept, that fires are such a normal part of life.

    1. I guess our fire roads are like the PNW logging roads! Most wide dirt roads are for fire crews to access the otherwise inaccessible canyons and backcountry. There is so much public land, and scary high fire dangers. I guess every region has some menace!

  3. Major is so beautiful! And I absolutely love the trails you are riding through. A tip I got from a mountain biker is to throw water on the rattlesnake (like flicking your water bottle at them to splatter them - not dump all of your water out). It makes them move better than rocks. I have not tried it. The time I tried rocks the damn thing curled up and refused to move. I left my jacket laying over it.

    1. I'll have to try the water trick. I never throw them at the snake, just behind it. I've also backed my horse up and made him trot around, the vibrations tend to move the snakes away. But putting your jacket on it, wow!


      Blogpost about the snake . . . .

  4. Not going to lie I was thinking it looked like fun riding BUT I also know the feelings coz I get sick of the awesome winding 20 miles of horse trails at Lake Oroville..and then I tell myself the same as you. We are blessed, and sometimes we need to take a moment to revel in annoyance or despair, then move on and see the good. I have a couple of prospects ready to get on trail soon and maybe we can get together and ride at each other's spots and break it up a little in the future :)

  5. You know what's funny? I also made a shadow picture, and I found another one in one of my favorite blogs: 4Shoes Life.
    Despite I'm from the other side of the world ...