Trail Report: New Market

June 26, 2019

Sunday was gorgeous and I decided sort of on a whim to run out and go on a quickish ride. I followed the highlighted trail in the image below.

This is a trail I have messed around on, checking out side trails before but never really took on the loop. I admit I did not think too much about it and just dove at the opportunity to check out some new trails. I did not realize the loop was 12 miles or how challenging it would be.

Parking: For this ride I parked at the paved lot on the side of rt211 on the east side of the mountain. After racking up I crossed over rt211, Simon in one hand and Daisy on a leash in the other. On the other side is a pass between two hills. There is a closed fire gate with a little wooden foot bridge over the gutter on the side of the gate. I let Daisy off her leash but kept her with me until after this point and then climbed on Simon.

This is trail 410 and this part of the trail is really nice. It’s wide and clear and a bit rolling. It’s a good area to move out.

On this ride there was a section that smelled strongly of skunk. And later Daisy pointed out a turtle.

Eventually the trail makes a left hand turn, following the white blaze. Shortly before the two mile mark the smooth trail of 410 turns into more of a mountain track. And shortly after that this trail comes to a three way junction and orange blaze of Massanutten trail 408.

I took the right hand track into Massanutten Trail 408 (note how unhelpful the trail signs vs the trail map are at matching up). It is a decent although challenging hiking trail. And I checked the map that it is a multi use trail and open to horses. It is. I consider this portion of the trail to be a much more advanced riding trail. Some portions were narrow with drop offs and with an abundance of knee knockers, often at the narrowest points. There were some big jump ups and some extended climbs to navigate. Simon’s a good little climber and he kept his footing nicely on the narrow sections.

There was one point during an uphill climb that the trail passed over some boulders. I dismounted and climbed over using my hands and feet and Simon climbed along behind me playing the part of a billy goat. I wish I could have gotten a photo or better yet, a video of him navigating this section but my hands were way too busy. I would not consider this portion of the trail equine friendly at all and I did not see anyway to work around it. The Boulder section was probably a good 60 feet long to navigate.

The trail climbed and eventually we came to a left hand turn in the trail and on and up we went. By this point I was debating turning around. This was turning into a longer ride than I was prepared for. But with all the uphill and challenging sections I decided going back would be even harder.

Onward! And finally the trail came to a four way intersection. I admit I sighed in relief. I spent a moment comparing my map to my GPS to the trail signs and decided I was where I thought I was and I needed to make a hard left onto 555 Scothorn Gap Trail. And that yep, this trail was longer than Simon, Daisy, or I should be taking on.

I also met some people out on a hike. We stopped and chatted and compared what to expect ahead. They were hoping to find an amazing view or something of note. I thought of them miles later when I came across some memorable views.

I headed on 555 which was generally down hill but not too steeply. It was a wider, simpler trail. There was older burn to the right as I went down which opened to some ok views. Eventually the trail ended at a creek and to a small parking area off Crisman.

I made a left and rode along Crisman for way too long. I got off and hiked for a bit. But the road just seemed to never end. Finally I came to 408 Massanutten Trail and bore left off of Crisman. The initial part of the trail through here is amazing. It’s somewhat narrow but surrounded on both sides by bushes and wild blueberries.

This loveliness ends abruptly in a steep down hill climb. I dismounted here, and wishing I had on my riding sneakers vs my smooth bottomed riding boots, I clambered down the mountain, using tree branches to help me down. Meanwhile Simon bill-goated along behind me, munching on leaves.

This downhill seemed to go on forever and took forever. When we finally made it down the mountain it rolled right out at the split closing the loop. Ah, just little over two miles to go and after a very brief climb it would be easy trail too. Again I sighed in relief.

I made a right onto 410 the Massanutten connector trail (note again no match up in names and numbers from trail map to trail sign) and hit the homeward stretch. Coming up from the split and just about creating the final small climb Simon smashed off trail and into the some briars. He loves to run through underbrush to scratch his belly and this often runs me into briars. Which it did, I yelled at him and yanked him back over to the trail. Unfortunately the rein wrapped around my ring finger on my left hand and I felt a snap.

Yep, I broke my finger.

Let me finish this report up by stating that I had about two miles left to go and luckily I had cell reception and my loving husband picked up when I called and rushed out to meet me at the trail head. I’ll detail the finger on my next post.

The ride was grueling and a real work out. I am glad I went the direction on the loop I did, and wouldn’t recommend the other direction. I wouldn’t have been comfortable on a different pony either. And it’s also not a trail I am excited to go try again. I would like to check out some of the ones down Crisman though.

Obstacle Play Day at Home

June 25, 2019

A couple Rogue team members are doing a JPR next weekend and I want to take Possum to give him a change in environment and job.  In preparation I set up some scary things at home to school through on Saturday. I started on the ground, introducing him, and then mounted up.  

I put down a smallish tarp which he was a bit apprehensive of. Tarps are not something he is comfortable with. But after looking at it and sniffing it he lead over it nicely.  Later we rode over it several times nicely ae well.  Score.  

 

I also have a tractor tire that he has walked through previously. He didn’t blink and eye at it and walked through both lead and mounted without batting an eye.  He is a smart pony and doesn’t usually take much to get accustomed to new things.  And once he has accepted something he is generally solid with it.

I drug out and set up a baby pool. I didn’t have anything simple and non messy to put in it and wasn’t too sure what I planned to do with it. So I led Possum over to it with no real expectations and let him check it out. He was nervous but also curious. He pushed it with his nose and pawed at it with his hoof. I stepped into it, making lots of noise, he tended but then moved back in and stepped into it with his front hooves. When I stepped out he stepped all the way in and sniffed all around it. I allowed him to step around in it a bit on his own. He spooked himself stepping back out but was happy to turn back around and investigate it some more.

I initially did not intend to walk him into the pool so I had no intention of riding him through it.

Pool noodles proved to be a challenge at the Obstacle fun day I took Possum to a few weeks back with Heather and Joan. He seemed to process and generally accept them after some time but he never fully relaxed with them. This is the first he has seen them since then and although he smelled them and pushed one with his nose he then marched on through them. When I rode through them, he actually stopped in the middle and stood quietly on his own for s moment and then reached back for a treat. This pony can be reached through his belly.

I set up a gate using a rope and two jump standards. We rode through this smoothly, using one hand on the rope and one on the rein like Possum knew what he was doing.

Finally I set up a flashy version of three pole mug shuffle. On the first pole I taped aluminum chafing pans. There was a minor breeze and lots of sun so they wiggled and reflected light. Possum gave these a healthy inspection but not showing any fear, just interest. On the second pole I taped four pin wheels. These also reflected some light and of course spin with the breeze. Just like with the first pole, Possum checked them out, liberally nosing them but other than interest he showed no care. At the third pole I attached a string and ran it to a super tall cone. The string had pompon like streamers hanging from it. Possum was interested, but just like the previous two poles he was simply curious.

I mounted up and shuffled a mug back and forth and around the three poles. Possum did want to push the trinkets around with his nose, such a curious pony, but we shuffled like professionals.

He was such a brave boy

Shenandoah Trail Riders – May 19, 2019

May 19, 2019

Today I went on a lovely little ride with the Shenandoah Trail Riders at Uncle Tom’s Park.

I should start by saying I was LATE! If you know me somewhat well you know I am always super early, like way too early, and that I start to panic when I am just running on time. But I have been working on this because no one needs to be 40 minutes early for a doctors appointment.

Today this back fired and I pulled into the camp ground at about 7 minutes after ride out time and everyone was gone! Ahhh. Luckily I was already tacked up and just needed to tighten my cinch and put on my helmet. Simon is simple and an excellent trail pony so no worries there, and off we went with Daisy happily loping along.

We cantered up the road and onto the trail and when it wasn’t too rocky we moved out until we caught up with Ellie at the back of the group. She was on new dog duty, making sure the new dog learned the ropes. It took maybe ten minutes for me to catch up and we were still in the woods part of the trail.

Its a lovely ride with several water crossings, shade for the majority of the ride, and of course, excellent company. I chatted with a few people, making sure to enjoy that good company.

Most of the riders in this club are on gaited horses, and those that are not are still on taller, more athletically built horses, leaving Simon as one of the few stubby legged mounts. So I usually end up trotting, walking, trotting, walking a lot. Sometimes he will roll into this nice leisurely western jog that manages to keep up but today we were walk/trot.

Uncle Tom’s Park is a neat location I probably would not know about if not for the Shenandoah Trail Riders. My history on the location is subpar and I should probably ask someone for details but after some googling I found a neat article by STRHA member Susan on Equitrekking.com where she gives some details about the location, including that it opened in the 1930s and was popular until the 1970s.

I absolutely love the pool that still has its old ladders attached. Today it was nice and full of that cold mountain spring water and looked very inviting after our ride since it was one of the first hot days of the year. But just as the covered dish lunch was being set out, and with blue skies, the rain poured down. Refreshing.

It was another lovely ride with some super people.

Trail Report: Vepco 240A to 240C Bible Run

April 29, 2019

I had such a good time exploring further down Vepco on Saturday that I went back Sunday to continue.

As mentioned in the previous post the turn for Vepco is off Little Dry River Rd in Fulks Run and has road signs. It is a left hand turn, about 2 miles give or take after LDR turns to gravel and just before the “end state maintenance” begins. 240 is marked just after making the turn.

I drove in the 20 minutes it took to get to 240A Straight Hollow, which is where I turned my ride around on Saturday. As a reminder, Saturday I parked at my usual spot at 240E Kritchie Mountain which has a closed fire gate but is a simple and enjoyable ride I have frequented. Saturday I rode from 240E along Vepco all the way to 240A Straight Hollow and then explored those side trails.

The drive in was fine. For a fire road it’s pretty well maintained and although there are potholes they are not too extreme or excessive. It’s still slow going and takes a while. I parked just after the second (concrete) creek ford. On the left there is a small side shoot that appears to be used for camping. It was perfect for backing in and parking. It is just before 240A.

For this ride I continued on past 240A along Vepco. There is an open fire gate just after 240A, which appears to be open for the long term since the actual gate part is busted off and down the hill, although it is not completely buried or aged and probably a super easy and quick fix.

I probably would not choose to drive my trailer in further than I did. The road remains mostly maintained, with a few rutted and narrow sections but it also has some rocky areas. I would certainly drive my truck without the trailer though. It was also quite a ways before I came upon another place I would feel comfortable turning my trailer around, which is another factor.

Simon has front shoes, but since I have not gotten him out much in the past six months, more like a year actually, I do not have back shoes on him. Because of this he was sensitive in the back on the rocky areas.

It was a beautiful ride, generally shaded, rolling up and down the mountain, popping out to amazing views and down into lush hollows. There were flowers and fresh growth and spring everywhere. I did realize after a while that all the trees I was bumping along the edges of the road were puffing visible clouds of pollen. I caught a little clip on video (it was a challenge to video, shake the branch and maintain Simon at the same time and it’s not the best video. But it’s at the very end of the video log at the end of this post).

After a while I came to 240C Bible Run on the left. This was just after a (non concrete) ford. The marker was knocked down and graffitied with a blue and yellow WV (presumably by a WVU supporter). There were a few other places this was found including on a tree a few yards behind the fallen post. I took this path, which was gorgeous until it reached a closed gate and poorly marked private property.

Across from 240C there appeared to be a trail, although I did not explore here and instead headed back. Closer to where I parked there were a few other side trails. One on the left going down into the hollow and one going up to the right through the woods, probably reaching the power lines.

240C nearly reaches Gauly Run, and I admit I was very tempted to continue but Simon and I were ready to head back and Daisy is also still building up her endurance. Perhaps another day when we are all a bit fitter.

On this ride I passed several dirt bike riders. 3 groups/pairs actually. They were all very polite and followed trail etiquette, stopping and turning off their bikes as I passed. Thank you.

The video:

Trail Report: Vepco, 240A Straight Hollow Exploring

April 28, 2019

I have dabbled with Vepco including plenty of rides on 240E Kritchie Mountain. This is where I have always parked, including on this ride. But one of my goals was to scout out a place to park farther in.

Vepco can be reached by driving down Little Dry River, keep going after it turns to gravel and it’s maybe a mile on the left. It’s marked with street signs and a 240 sign. It has a good road going in and shortly there is a concert creek ford that’s never been too high to easily cross.

Just past the ford is the Vepco marker.

After several twists in the road there is an open fire gate. And after some more twists there is a right hand turn which ends quickly at a circle (not suitable for trailers) and a closed fire gate. This is where I park. I pull past and back in and park on the side. It’s easy and smooth.

Usually I ride back 240E. But today I wanted to find a good parking spot further in. I looked a week or two ago but wasn’t solid on the spot I found and I had more time today so let’s explore. I rode off, continuing along 240 Vepco.

It’s level briefly then mostly grades down and up weaving back and forth under the power lines.

After a while there was another concert creek ford. Just after this, on the left, is a nice horse trailer sized back in parking spot. This is where I am going to park next time.

Shortly after the ford is 240A on the right hand side. There is another branch across from it and Vepco continues ahead as well. I began doing video clips from this point which are compiled at the end of this post. Here you can see terrain and footing.

We headed right onto 240A, Straight Hollow. It has a few creek crossing and some rocky areas but nothing poor or difficult.

This will be a nice place to ride in the hot summer. It was shaded and as mentioned, there was a lot of creek crossings. Although I suspect some will be dry come summer. Today was extremely windy but down in the hollow it was nice and calm.

After a short bit there is a branch off to the right with a camp area and the trail continues out the back.

I followed it for a while and it eventually came to some larger downed trees at a creek crossing. It was easy to work around it.

Here the trail continued ahead and to the left. We went straight until there was quite a bit of downed trees and then turned around. This is documented more clearly on the video.

Next we tried the left branch which counties on for a ways with some more downed trees at a creek crossing. I opted to turn around. Again, see the video.

Back to 240A we continued on.

It crosses some more creeks.

It is a lovely piece of trail.

Shortly there was a branch to the left, not as obvious as the others. I continued ahead and did not take the turn. Yet.

Just another bend and the road ended at private property and a closed gate so turning around I headed back to that left (now right) hand split I had just passed up.

This continued for a surprisingly long way.

It was very pleasant, a few creek crossings, not much down at all.

It was also pretty clearly marked by orange tags. Although the path was easy to follow.

It eventually came to a clustered creek crossing and some larger downed trees. The trail ahead, bending left, appeared clear beyond the downed trees but the ride was getting to the point of needing to turn around so I did.

The above photo is on the return from this side trail going back to 240A. So pretty.

Once back to Vepco I also hacked down the the trail opposite 240A. It was rather short and also ended at a closed gate to private property. Through the woods I could see an open fire gate along Vepco. This section is also documented on the video.

We hacked back up Vepco to the trailer and into the wind.

It was a nice ride. I’m looking forward to the new parking location and exploring further up Vepco. It eventually pops out at Gauley Ridge which can be easiest reached from the Turner Run entrance and which also connects up to Slate Lick and some other fire road networks. I have ridden from Turner Run to where Vepco connects so I am excited to reach this point from Vepco as well.

It was a good ride on a great pony with an amazing dog.

until the next adventure.

The video of this ride:

%d bloggers like this: