I had a brief regret on the way to the trail head that everything was going to plan, that nothing unexpected would occur, and thus I would have nothing to blog about.
Seems like whenever I start thinking that direction I am quickly corrected.
Thinking I would have nothing to write about, I took pictures of various details in order to write up a typical "odds and ends post".
Like this one: my new trimming tool (only complaint? Battery barely lasts through a full set of 4 hooves)
Or this one: New lead rope I constructed. I love these types of fasteners, and will only use cotton for safety reasons, but also don't want to pay a fortune for the lead rope, so I've been making my own for years. When tension is applied to the rope, it pulls tighter on itself and the end doesn't slip through. Eventually the tape wears off (there from purchasing the rope), the end will fray and become "bigger" and the rope will even better lock itself into place. I do a knot at the end so that I have something to hold onto or step on. I've never had an issue with my leadropes, and for some reason buying the rope by itself, it's coiled tighter than the typical cotton leads that you buy, so it's less flimsy and has some life to it.
Here's another good one: Haven't gotten poison oak since remembering to put this stuff on. It's GREAT. I'm in love. I think I've been using it 3 years and haven't gotten a serious reaction since. And I know I've been exposed. For example, on a backpacking trip, I got some mild exposure on my legs underneath my pants, where I hadn't applied it.
The trail ride started well - boots started on breast collar, but a couple miles into the ride I stopped, dismounted and put the front boots on without any fuss. I was working hard at staying exactly in Farley's center of balance and not putting excess pressure on her back by coming down from the posting trot too soon.
And so....I missed a turn. The turn I ALWAYS miss. I miss it so often that Farley didn't even blink at it.
I was at the point that I usually get to before realizing my mistake when I saw it.....a sign that pointed to a little single track that said "river trail to WST 1.3 miles). Perfect!!!! I was really appreciating the increased signage since the last time I rode here. And here was a perfect example! I didn't know that there was a pretty little single track "alternative".
Farley, slightly unmotivated up to this point, took off. Holy crap I love this horse. It was a very technical single track and she just floated over it. And then.....things got sketchy. LOW overhanging branches that made me glad that Farley and I were small, STEEP ups an downs combined with low branches and sharp turns. And then I started to get nervous.
It was a VERY narrow single track with a STEEP drop off. Mind you, I'm saying this from the perspective of having ridden Tevis and not having a problem with drop offs, pucker point, whatever. I have a fabulous,, trustworthy horse on these types of trails and as a result tend a giggle bit when people talk about how nervous parts of the trail make them.
The single track disappeared around a curve, around a cliff, and I, for the first time on any trail, decided that I would be getting off and walking a particular portion on my own two feet (Holy crap I love this horse point 2: she stays behind me and doesn't try to pass or step on my heels when I'm leading. This is an absolute must for me in my training).
Once around the don't-look-down curve the drop off was less frightening and so I mounted back up.
I knew I was close to the WST, and even with the technical nature of the trail behind me, I was still glad I came this way. A bit different from the boring wide jeep roads that make up a lot of this section of the WST trail.
And then I saw this.
The picture doesn't make it look nearly as bad as it is. That gulch is deep....and goes straight down the mountain.
No more than 12-14" of board across a very deep gully that is cutting through the mountain side with no way around.
Oh, no way.
In fact, I verbalized this sentiment several time while looking at it.
I didn't realize until later - but here's a map of my track. Do you see how close I am to meeting up with the WST? Do you know how much I hate backtracking?
Didn't even cross my mind to attempt it, and even now, when I think about trying it, my head spins and I get nauseous.
I got off, spun Farley around (Holy crap I love this horse point 3: She can pivot 180 degrees on pretty much any single track without stepping off trail).
I wasn't THRILLED to be going back the way we came. Sure it was pretty and fun......but it was more fun knowing that I wasn't going to have to come back this direction and do it again. There were some portions where, I'll admit, my heart was in my throat, even though Farley was an angel and these sort of trails are as natural as a duck swimming for her.
I got off at the same spot as last time - it was so steep and narrow and switchback like on an open cliff face that even faced with it a second time it didn't look any better.
And then.....my luck ran out.
BAM - my knee cap bashed against a particularly close tree, going down hill at a semi trot. The tree grabbed my knee cap and attempted to wrench it off.
I swore. Loudly. Continually. I was hurt, I was scared. I really thought my knee cap had displaced. Some experimental trot steps told me that it wasn't too serious, even though it felt like my IT band had been made very unhappy.
The only other time anything similar had happened was during Tevis 2009 when I was doing the cougar rock bypass and I bashed my knee against the rock wall going around. That sucked too. Not nearly as much as yesterday sucked.
Yes, when I stopped to get gas, I pulled down my tights in the gas station bathroom so you guys could get a look at the knee.
Considering the multitude of bad things that could have happened on the trail, I guess this is realitively minor - afterall things like this happen even on nice trails. However, knowing how good Farley is on really really tough trail, that something like this happened also tells me that I was cutting it really really close yesterday. My hatred of backtracking and williness to check out new trail is not always helpful. I was pleased that I have apparently matured enough to get off the horse when the trail gets sketchy enough, and be flexible enough that I didn't do something stupid like insist that I maintain my original plan of going to the river crossing.
We got back to the right trail, continued to no-hands-bridge and then turned around. My body wanted to compensate for that knee by leaning to the left (something I already have a tendancy to do anyways) even though there was no more discomfort to ride correctly than compensate for it.
Today it's stiff and sore. I have a hike planned with friends. Mechanically it seems OK, but it does NOT want to be touched or bumped. We shall see.
Update: did 9.5 miles yesterday on it and it seems to be fine. As long as nothing touches it (I wanted to die when I slammed it against my dash last night) I seems to be cooperating. It's absolutely pouring today so I got my ride and hike it just in time.
Self check for Tevis
What went well:
- Farley was volunteering to trot up very long hills, even going away from the trailer, and didn't try to stop on me when the going got tough (in our book that equals logging roads going away from the trailer that go up forever). She felt very sound on the trail. No tack issues, stood well for mounting and dismounting on the trail and for putting boots on. No filling in her legs today. Pace was OK.
What needs to improve:
- Didn't drink on the trail or after the ride. Took longer to pulse down than usual - could be because I did the ride in the late afternoon and she still has her winter coat, but something I need to monitor. I can tell her hocks are stiff going down hill. I probably need to look at injecting her hocks again this year. Didn't want to get back into the trailer to go home (green grass at the trail head!). Need to do lots and lots and lots more hills between now and the end of June.