Tuesday, January 28, 2020

bright days

The month of January has seemed unusually gloomy and gray. There is typically more sun to dry out between the rain, but this year the overcast has prevailed. The slippery mud is avoidable but not much fun (plus my football team lost in the playoffs, another depressing thought).

But there are moments of bright, and I've tried to take advantage. A quick after-work ride stolen here and there, and one longer ride from home on local trails (which was more frustrating than fun with Major being a monster beast).

fern grotto

I needed a ride with some available long trots, so to the dam site we went. The trails there are well draining gravel roads and rocky trail, with a little sand thrown in. Just the footing we needed. How I tell how much we needed this type of ride: I took almost no photos in ten miles because we were flying along having too much fun!

pay attention here, the trail is tricky

can't get though (the access road/trail is literally 100 feet on the other side of this jagged rock pile)

a nice longish gravel stretch

Plus the sun was shining, I practically had the trails to myself, and we wandered and explored with no set plan. Down down to the river, then following the river on the sand and later rock trail. We headed back up the hill and Major was on fire, so I let him canter (he later regretted his life choices when he figured out it was hard and steep, too late buddy, keep going!).

I love the weird barrel trail
and we found the lower end of the barrels too!

We cut over and headed up the old asphalt road, mostly riding on the side. There we power-trotted up while fancy bikes in low gear struggled up. Horsepower for the win!

watching construction (yeah, I know you want to go back up Major, nice ears!)

Lots of trotting and elevation make for a happier horse and human. And looking forward to more bright days ahead.

Friday, January 24, 2020

ride along

I thought I'd take you on an after-work ride, mostly in photos. My plan did not quite go according to plan (oh, drama!) but just be patient and wait till the end, it's something cool…

The sun finally decided to shine after four days of murky, cloudy and rain. That is too many days for me (yes, you all can laugh, but it's why I live in California!). I left work at 3:30pm and headed over to get my horse, planning on being on the trail by about 4:15 (it's lighter later, but not much!).

How dirty could he get overnight? His new name is PigPen, sigh…

not ashamed of being muddy and disgusting, glad he is brown!

AND the other side too, sigh…

But he got as clean as I cared to (note in all the upcoming photos I totally missed his right ear!) and we headed out down the lane at a walk.

down the lane

into the forest…

crossing the little creek
high road or low road (we stay on the low rode, don't want to slip!)

The woods are lovely, dark and deep (thanks Robert Frost for those words) and wet. I haven't retouched these pictures, and we didn't stop much (as you'll note from the blur). Major was as happy as I was to be out and we walked the muddy bits but he quickly picked up an easy trot.

moon/shark fin mossy rock

I carry a pruner, but someone has chainsawed these trees, so nice!

I love the winter trees
 The trails were a bit slippery but Major is sometimes actually sensible about that, and will slow down (though we still discuss that he does NOT get to go around the puddle in the middle of the trail, arghh). More trotting because the footing was better than I thought it would be!

speedy single-track

two roads diverged in the wood

At a fork I turned left to go on the ridge trail (I often take the trail to the right when I am hiking with Major, makes a nice three mile loop). I was on a mission to go up on the ridge trail and try to find the deer remains I'd seen in December. But it had been awhile, so I was sure the forest creatures had dragged everything off, but it's a pretty trail anyway! Major likes this trail as it is a bit more open and he can trot for longer stretches!

heading up to the ridge

pine-needle sunset

ridge trail

my not-so-secret trail…the road less traveled

I took the turn to my secret trail (totally not secret, in fact I marked it with a piece of flagging tape hoping more people would explore. I guess most people aren't so crazy adventurous around here). Major is great at scrabbling over a fallen tree and through a winter-dormant stand of poison oak (ok, so I don't always make the best choices, kind-of like my horse!), I saw it!!

Found it! 1.5 months in the forest, freshly dead to skull, amazing.

The deer skull was still there, with antlers attached! The jaws were there but scattered about with the leg bones and spine. I hopped off Major and picked up the skull, a couple vertebra were still attached, but came off pretty easily. It was mostly all clean, just a little bit rank.

I'd wanted to make this a longer ride, but with the addition of skull, that was not to be. Major didn't care at all about this long-dead thing, so I clambered back aboard, awkwardly trying to hold skull and reins. No real way to tie it on without stabbing Major! Major did take a bit of advantage when he figured out I wasn't in as much control as usual, let's just say there was much jigging involved (and the need to remind myself to train Major to neck rein, though rating him is another issue!).

Viking ride home!

As we headed home I felt like a bit of a Viking, holding this skull and trying to manage my very up horse. (And I totally pictured a great mystery detective: how did we find this rider on the side of the trail, impaled on a deer skeleton antler, and hoofprints all around?) But we got home safely, if in a bit of a blur.

my only attempt at a photo while juggling phone, horse and skull.

Back home the sun was well set and darkness was upon us, but Major had mash and hay waiting, and I had a smelly skull trophy (though it is a present for a friend). I thought it was a very successful after-work adventure…though not sure you'll want to ride-along with me in the future if I keep finding dead things…

Monday, January 6, 2020


A new year, a ride with a friends, perfect start

I started off the New Year with a great ride (the part where we ended up in the middle of a resolution run was interesting though!), and a detox break from all computer/social/blog duties (well, except for football!). So I have a lot of reading to catch up on!

New Year 2020 view from No Hands bridge

But I don't feel like I missed out. I don't do much social media anyway, but it can become a time-suck of scrolling and looking at others posts. A total break while I hiked in the redwoods and read numerous books and sat by the sea was awesome and enlightening, damn, I can waste a lot of time on my phone!

I can never go wrong with waves and rocks

ocean exploring

I still like my (intermittent) blogging, so that won't change. I wish I had more interesting posts than another pretty ride, but mostly it is the ongoing training challenges with Major (damn is he great not at home or at a competition, can't I have that horse all the time?), deciding if I want to do endurance this year, hopefully more camping, and the rest we shall see.

ferns and redwoods

Happy (belated) new year 2020!

Major's resolution: eat more alfalfa