Trail Report: 240E Kritchie Mountain with Poe 3/11/18

March 11, 2018

I took Mr Poe out Little Dry River Rd and up the Vepco fire road 240 today. We parked at the first side fire road on the right, 240e Kretchie/Kritchie Mountain (I see it spelled differently on signs and maps). Poe is currently barefoot and I know this short ride to be soft and not rocky for his sensitive naked feet.

I am sure a lot of you would consider Poe a decent little trail pony, and years ago I would have agreed with you. I used to consider all my ponies great for trails. But now that I have had the privilege of riding Simon now for years on trails I realize what crap all of my past ponies have been on trail. What I mean by this is I can jump on Simon and go spend the day all alone galavanting around in National Forest, where I am I very unlikely to see another person, out of cell range, climbing up and down mountains, navigating questionable footing, and feel reasonably safe. If Simon does spook, he generally slows down of stops, or tends to get a tense and alert. He is extremely cautious and has a high level of personal self preservation. There is always the chance of getting hurt but I feel like I am stacking the odds as much in my favor as I can when I take my bulldozer-pony-Simon out.

Poe is lovely in a group, and not so bad on his own. He is rather surefooted, and not spooky. But he is not Simon. He is also shorter on attention span, and even in a group, after about two hours he starts to jig instead of walk. And I do not consider jigging an acceptable trail riding gate.

So, that said, Poe is not a bad trail pony, he is just not my ideal trail ride. And as you read above, I tend to be a bit picky about what I ride when I go solo on a trail.

Lately I haven’t been trying to get Poe legged back up for the games season. I let him get more out of condition this past winter than in the past so it’s a bit more work than past years. He is pretty easy to leg up though. And he is also easy to keep in condition once there. So really not a hard task.

Poe and I both hate conditioning work. We have been hacking around the farm. Up and down the hill, around the field. Up and down the hill, around the field. Boring. We hate it. So we moved to the riding field and I set up a weird course of cones to signal gate changes and turns with a big tractor tire to walk through. Just something to help occupy our minds on days of decent footing. Ok so this is helping but it’s still boring. So when I rode this trail the other day on Simon and realized it was not rocky I decided to bring Poe out.

it’s a decent day. Sunny but chilly. We are expecting a possible snow storm tonight. But it’s been decent for about a month so it’s somewhat green too. We headed out. Poe was rather pleasant but a bit skeptical. He was tense, and did a funny move when he noticed a piece of bark directly under him. He leaped directly up like a cat, landing right back where he started with a snort like “well that was silly”. And went back to marching along like nothing happened. I laughed and was thankful it was up and not to the side. He also froze sharply into the ride, looking off into the woods intently and we watched a whole flock of turkeys. I tried to get a video but you couldn’t see them in it with the trees. It was pretty neat though.

(This is just a little video of us after we started the ride back)

he relaxed after the turkeys and enjoyed himself. It was a short ride, we did a lot of walking and some trotting. I mostly let him select his pace. It would have been nice to go a bit longer and farther if the trail had allowed but it did not. And Poe was quite content with what we did do. So we finished up and headed home.

He was quite pleased with himself and seemed to be rather happy to be the chosen pony of the day. I’ll have to come up with a couple more rides with footing appropriate for him. It’s a good mental work out and mental break for him. And sure beats ring work.

Trail Report:Turner Run/Gauley Ridge to Slate Lick and back 3/10/18

March 10, 2018

Today Carol Ann and I went for a ride. We did a lot of walking and talking and it was a dang good time.

we parked up at Turner Run and headed on past the closed gate, about three miles in and made a left onto the ride top trail. It’s the one that pops out at the parking space facing slightly back. It was amazingly clear after that crazy wind storm last week. I expected a lot more downed trees and was pleasantly surprised at the lack of destruction. The trail winds down and around for a good ways. There are some old red, blue and yellow marks painted on trees that are often hard to see. And sometimes a faded out marker tag. But in nearly all spots the trail can be seen pretty clearly.

There are two places there the trail makes a hard right turn. The first time the trail also continues ahead so it’s easy to miss. But the tree there is heavily marked with arrows and the trees to the right are also heavily marked. The second time the large tee on your left has two large arrows on it and the trees to the right are sparse and hard to find. From this point on the marks are a bit harder to find and some of the trail is a bit blown over but with a moment of looking you won’t get lost.

The trail eventually dumps out at Slate Lick. Carol Ann spotted a raccoon down by the creek at this point. Pretty neat. We let the ponies get a drink and then worked out way up to the lake where we saw some geese. We took a few snap shots then headed back up the fire break trail.

I was not good at taking photos on this ride. We were too busy chatting it up and having a good time to think of such things like documenting the ride. (But my gosh look how big Simons head is in that photo of him!)

Just as we got back to the parking area, Carol Ann’s mare smashed her knee on the fire gate. I think it’s going to be nice and purple by morning, it was a rough smashing. To be clear, the mare smashed Carol Ann’s knee, or her own pony knee. Naughty pony.

I hope Carol Ann still had a good time. And I hope she can walk tomorrow. It’s one of the best, although slowest rides I have been on in a while. And with competition season coming us, trail riding is going to become less frequent soon.

Trail Report: 423 Gauley Ridge – slate lick fire break trail 02/27/18

February 27, 2018

Today I spent a lot of time exploring. Simon was also not focused at all and a little bit annoying. I think I refer to him as a donkey in the video a couple times. But it was another unseasonably nice day, sunny, and I felt like exploring.

I parked at the top of Turner Run in the circle. I was happy to see all the butchered hog parts were gone! But at one of the pull overs before the circle there was tons of new trash. Shame. So I parked, hopped on, and off Simon and I went on up the fire road, 423 Gauley Ridge behind the closed gate.

From the parking lot there is a trail just to the right of the fire road, over a berm. Carol Ann and I rode it back about a month ago and it was rather over grown in spots and had a few rough downed logs. I do note it in the video. And I. The photo below I note the other end of it. It is marked on forest service maps as well. It has a fallen FS gate, and you know I love those. But this was not a trail for today. So on we went.

I did stop at the first camping circle on the right. It’s a decent little circle with a nice Little Rock pile fire pit. Behind it is an old trail head. I thought this was a connecting old trail head I explored in the past. So I explored it again. Nope it was note. I show this in the video. It is an old trail/logging road of sorts and it’s not bad at all until a point. But that’s all it is. Short and blah.

So back to the main fire road and on we go.

A camp area to the right. Dave’s turnpike. The marker is knocked down but still there. It has a road that wraps down a ways then dead ends. Nothing exciting. A canoe area on the right, just off the road. A side fire road with gate closed to the left. Then a camp circle to the left and the. Up a hill.

There is a small pull over to the left at the top of the hill, it sort of faces the other way. It has a trail off the back. This runs along above the fire road off shoot and then wraps down to Slate Lick.

Just past this is the “fire break” trail. That’s what I am calling it. I am not sure it was actually meant to be a fire break but it appeared right around the time there was a fire back there and the fire was on the right hand side but not the left hand side of the trail which was put in using equipment. It is super easy to miss going up the road, much easier to see going back down.

It’s rocky and becomes steep. Relatively straight, it heads down. You can see evidence of the old fire to the right, and also a decent view at one point. It was a bit steep for me to be snapping photos or taking video at that point. Simon was sure he didn’t need to keep going and also needed encouragement to pay attention.

At the bottom bare slightly right, and then down a hill to the creek bed. Here the trail goes in two directions. I get very excited in the video because you can see plenty of marking tape up in both directions. The first time I was down here the fire break did not exist yet and I followed the original trail to the right along the creek up to the fire road. That was coming up from slate lick.

Today I wanted to get to slate lick so across the creek and to the left, onto the very clear trail, which also is marked clearly with marker tape.

Back and forth a few times across the creek and along the side of it. At one point you have the option to stay straight (the creek is to your right here) and take an old logging road up above the creek or bare right and cross the creek and continue along that way. These basically run parallel, one on either side of the creek.

I rode the logging path years ago and it was over grown but it looked much clearer now. That said, I took the creek side trail.

Eventually the trail runs out at the back corner of slate lick lake. There is a well marked tree on the left side of the creek that marks a trail to go up the hill. It pops out to the side of the lake. Ta-da!

I would take this path back UP from the lake vs down to the lake. But since I couldn’t remember exactly where this trail came out I had to ride it down to find its end. Next time here I want to ride the other trail (which I passed on the fire road just before reaching the “fire break trail”) and will take that down and then this back up.

I rode up and around to take in the view. Woooooo.

*in the photo below the trail to go back up to Gauley Ridge is just to the left right about there that first small ever green is.

Then turned around to head back. Going back into the woods to head back to the creek there is a split in the trail (immediately entering the woods). Go left and it’s the steep down to the creek we took to get up from behind the lake. Or bare straight/right and follow the marking tape and trail through leaf litter which dumps us at a much nicer creek crossing back to the creek side trail. I assume there was a way to continue straight and onto the logging trail that I did not see.

So on we go.

I went back up the way I went down, the fire break trail. But I wish I had stayed on the creek trail. When I got back to the fire road I did go left and looked for where it comes out but did. It find it. I was getting tired and Simon was really not interested in going on so we called it and started for home.

I spent lots of time zig zagging around and enjoying myself. And admittedly, we did not make good time at all today. Lots of ambling and strolling along. It was a good day.

check out the three part video blog if you like. I ramble on a lot but you can see the trail at different points. I try to focus on all the turns.


Video 1 of 3

Video 2 of 3

Video 3 of 3

Trail Report: 240E Kretchie Mountain

February 24, 2018

Note: in some places I find the mountain Krechie and some Krichie. I or E?

Parking: I show the parking in the video part one. There is a small loop to park on but it’s small with a big pothole and a bit of an incline on one end. But would work well for backing and turning.

I back off of the main road – 240, and park on the side of the side road. A larger rig could certainly do this. I have also parked on the side of the main road just before this side road and there are more places to park and turn around just a bit further along.

Access: This trailhead is at the end of Little Dry River Road. It eventually turns to gravel, and you go a bit further, past a house on the right, and it’s the turn on the left. There is a simple metal sign that says “210” by the entrance. Just after it is a red metal gate, which I think is to a gun club or a hunting club or some such private land.

Turn left, I believe it is technically Vepco Rd (it’s labeled this on the Map My Tracks app). It’s has a nice creek ford, concrete, not too deep, and heads on up, through an open fire road gate and continue up. I include some of this on the part 1 video. The trail head I road from in this post is the first side road on the right, it’s well marked, gravel like the main road, and has the “240E Krechie Mountain” forest service brown wooden sign.

It’s been a few years since I have been to this trail head. I did not go out and check it out in advance to make sure it was still passable and gates were still open in advance like I should have. I rolled some dice and it went ok.

I am turning these written blogs into more of a video blog experience lately. So if you really intend on checking out this trail I recommend you review the videos. This ride has a three videos. I hope they are helpful.

I recommend the main bit of this ride if you want a short easy ride with some nice views and easy footing. For this area the footing was actually really nice. Thinking back I would even take my more tender footed, barefoot pony back on this ride as a light conditioning ride. (And now I am thinking). The main part of the ride is about 4.3 miles in and back out. It’s wide, clear and well marked fire road the whole way.

From parking, go through the closed gate and on back along the fire road, it splits a little ways on. There was a tree down for the right hand/straight ahead fork. I seem to remember from years ago, this meandered along a ways, got super over grown and I gave up. I have a fuzzy memory that I later noted on a map that if I had just gone a tiny bit farther it would have popped out on a fire road or something. But my memory of it is not so good.

On this ride we took the left fork, which was clear, and headed down.

the trail rolls along, some coverts over creeks, rolling up and down but nothing harsh.

after awhile there is another split. Go right, up. It’s not too terribly long, and it’s a bit rockier compared to the rest of the ride. It eventually trickles down to a foot trail, which appears to have kept going but I decided to call it. It’s a decent trail till my turn around point. This is covered in the videos pretty clearly.

I also went back to the split and took the left hand one. It was a bit thick at first and then cleared. I will note here that there were a lot of tiny thorn trees. So ones you couldn’t easily snap back branches on and might not want hitting you with bare arms.

This split was short lived and ended at a circle. There were two branches off. The one to the right at the start of the circle was super short. The one directly across the circle appeared to probably have been nice at one time but was too over grown so I called it.

That is the main part of this ride.

On my way back I decided to check out a side trail. On the way back it was on my left, going up hill, just about at a right hand curve in the fire road.

It initially went up, bubbles left and then short off to the right. It had a few branches off of it but I stuck to the most dominant trail. It started up pretty steep after a bit and I noted the trees were marked blue blaze. It was a solid trail and only slightly over grown, but still very passable. I looked at map my tracks app and it appeared the path was about to run into another trail or just had connected. But when I got home and looked I did not see this. I was a bit short on time so I cut my exploring at this time and headed back out. But I would like to go back out and see where it goes.

I also saw a lot of freshly scratched up trees and what I think might have been bear scat. I am not any type of scar professional, so I could be totally wrong, and I realize it’s winter, but with it being extremely warm, 60-80s recently I believe I have read bears might get up for a snack. Again, no professional, so I am not so sure. But it was fresh poo and scratching.

Something else of note – there were fresh tree tubes in one area. Tons of them. I assume they have trees in them. I came galloping around a corner and it was just covered in them. Sort of spooky.

So back to the parking area. You can see in the photo above, there is a trail just to the right and above the fire road. I remember it from before but not much more than it was there. I rode up it just a tiny bit to see if it was still there and it is. I’ll have to check it out in the future. Again.

Check out the three videos for a v-log of the ride.

Video part 1 of 3

Video part 2 of 3

Video part 3 of 3

Trail Report: Blue hole – Grove Hollow 02/15/18

February 15, 2018

Trail: 302 Grove Hollow at Blue Hole in Bergton, Virginia. Drive all the way back, over four cattle guards.

Parking: Not a very big area. Small turn around. Space for two or possibly three small rigs. There is a second spot to park just past the main spot but it is often flooded or extremely muddy.

Todays Ride: I got a very late start and didn’t reach the trail head until nearly 3pm so I decided to do the quick loop with the big down hill finish. It has amazing views, lots of room to move out and the big down hill adds another level to the work out. It does slow down the over all pace quite a bit but it’s a fun challenge. Certainly not for every ride.

The ride starts out through the closed fire road gate, and on we go. Past lots of logged areas, up and up, on a slow incline for about the first two miles or so. This makes this area a bit of an annoyance for me to do a ride in and back out since the last two miles is a down hill ride. I dislike that level of down hill on Simon. He is so slow and not as surefooted as I would like and let’s his laziness peak. It takes some constant work to keep him moving at a decent pace. Which is not how I like to spend the last two miles of any ride.

After a bit there is a road that beaches to the left, 302b Grove Hollow – with a closed fire gate, or proceed ahead onto 302 Rocky Spur.

I really had no idea what I was going to do at this point. But I was working with limited daylight. I debated for a bit too long then opted to head left on 302b grove hollow.

It’s a nice hack along until you come to a an opening with three split offs in front of you. Choosing left makes for this loop. None of these have road markers or any designations displayed.

So off to the left, which is a quick down, around and up and then this trail shows its beauty. Since they logged this area a few years ago, there are absolutely amazing views. And this section of the trail is all amazing. The trail rolls up, down and around, and it’s perfect for a nice rolling canter, popping up on each new crest with a “king of the world” feel!

As expected photo and video just does not show these views.

Alas the views end and the main trail runs out and becomes a much narrower trail. And on we go.

Here is where the real challenge comes. The downhill. The trail sort of narrows down and becomes less clear. There are pink marker tags here to assist with the hill, I recommend following them. It starts off not bad, going straight ahead and then curving to the left and beginning to slope down. It’s gradual but quickly gets steep. I have gone all the way down mounted, but I usually dismount once it gets super steep. Although I have mentioned previously I really am uncomfortable going steeply downhill on Simon so I am not sure how much of that plays into it, but I assure you, it is steep. The trail is visible, although the markers make it easier to follow, especially once on the ground.

Today I was climbing down on foot with Simon and I slipped and rolled a little ways. I popped up from the roll and I swear Simon was was laughing at me *oh come on human, really?* It was comical. Once to the bottom, it’s an easy slip to the right into a more dominant trail, and just a few yards ahead across a creek and turn right. This trail has some downed trees, but nothing impassable. It dumps you out at a rocky creek type of bed, bare a bit right and across a creek, there is a clear crossing (this area is a bit messy since it floods on occasion and not so clear. After the rocky bed area bare right to the running creek, closer to the fence). After crossing the creek there is a path, sort of tough to see, it is parallel to the creek, forcing you to make a hard left to enter it. It takes up along the creek, then bares up and dumps you into the road, just a short shot left to the parking.

Video clips of the ride.

oh did I mention it was in the 70s!!!

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