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.

Conditioning Ride #2 – 3/27/14

March 29, 2014

On Thursday Beth and I headed back to Browns gap for our second conditioning ride of the year.

I took note that Poe is already getting in better condition. He trotted strongly and kept an upbeat pace for the entire two hour ride.

The most spectacular part, Poe seemed to actually enjoy himself! He even trotted along with his ears forward for portions of the ride. Most importantly, he did not try to throw me off, kick Simon or pull any if his “stunts”. He was happy to move out ahead of Simon, stay along side him, or fall behind him at any point. He was a happy pony.

Poe is an easily bored pony. And I think trail riding does not hold his attention. The last few rides we had were games rides, so maybe he had enough stimulation accumulated that a chill trot in the woods for this ride was tolerable. Or maybe he has “lost” the battle and has accepted that he is going to do these rides, so he has chosen to enjoy them. It’s probably a combination of both!

I am going to try and get in two conditioning rides next week, and I hope he continues to enjoy them.

We are one month out from the first big competition of the games season.






Conditioning Ride #1 – 3/10/14

March 14, 2014

Now that we are under daylight savings time, it’s light out late enough to get in a good conditioning ride after work. There is a rather boring, but still pretty, ride about a 15 minute trailer haul away. It’s a fire road that rides from the bottom of the mountain, up to the top, and ends at Skyline drive in Shenandoah National Park.

It a really good conditioning ride, and Poe needs his butt busted into shape (mine does too). My plan is to take him once or twice a week over the next month or two before the mounted games season kicks off.

Monday, a new friend from work, Beth, said she would enjoy going with me, which meant Simon could also go. This was good for a few reasons. Beth is an extrovert and great at conversation. I really enjoyed having the company. And Simon loved the ride and although he is in semi decent shape already, he can use the extra conditioning as well. Also, this meant that Poe did not have to go on his own which makes both Poe, and myself, much more relaxed.

Beth and I tacked up, trailered over, and rode out. We had an great time chatting and sharing stories. The weather was amazingly in the 60s, with fantastic views, and we got our sweat on.

Poe continued to express his distaste at being a trail pony. He did try a few minor stop, turn and run back to the trailer stunts, which were quickly averted. It was certainly easier with Simon and Beth along.

I forgot to set the trail tracker when we started out, but I remembered when we turned around for the ride back down the mountain. Below is an image of our ride back down. We managed about 7 miles in about 1 1/2 hours (the ride up we were mostly trotting, and we did a lot more walking on the way back down). Poe was mentally and physically worn out at the end. And although he never tried to break down to a walk from a trot, his trot incriminates began to slow as we went along. He worked up a nice sweat.

So far, so good! This plan should whip us all into condition. And I think Beth is interested in going on more rides in the future too! Yea!







February Bear Trap Loop 2014

February 23, 2014

Saturday was an excellent day for a trail ride and that’s just what I decided to do. I met up with Carol Ann and we went out to Bear Trap Rd and did my favorite loop.

After all the snow and rain we have had, Carol Ann and I were concerned about parking and the trail condition so we though this location would serve well. The drive in is in a paved road, and Parking is on the shoulder. And there are miles and miles of fire road so if the trails were too wet we could just stay on the roads. After all, we wouldn’t want to tear the trails up if they were slippery.

But the fire road was in great condition and the trails were perfect. There were a few snow drifts on the mountain ridge and a few minor snow patches on shaded areas of the road, but otherwise it wasn’t even muddy.

Just a brief recap, this is my favorite loop. It consists of a mile ride in on the fire road, then breaking off onto a trail that follows an old, no longer marked or cleared, fire road. I was told by forest services it is a former logging road. It is marked on the map and does have a well trod trail going up it but is otherwise unmarked. It climbs up the mountain side for about a mile, eventually getting very steep, and pops out on the ridge top of the mountain. This is also an unmarked trail, that is rather well maintained.

This trail eventually comes out onto another fire road, but to continue the loop, users must turn onto another trail almost immediately. Blazed yellow this trail wraps back down and onto the original fire road, where some good ground covering gates can be worked before popping back out at Bear Trap Road.

This time I remembered to start my trail tracking app, Map My Trail. This is an awesome app I have been using for a while, although I frequently forget to use it when I go trail riding.

The loop measures 7.3 miles and took us 2 hours. Very cool.







January Cub Run 2014

January 12, 2014

Today I loaded up Simon and the dogs and went up to Cub Run/Runkles Gap. I parked about a mile up the road and jumped onto the purple trail. It goes for about a quarter mile and then the next 3/4 mile is a rather steep rock scramble to the top of the mountain.

Simon showed his usual mountain goat abilities and trucked on up the mountain, climbing rocks like a pro. The view from the top is amazing. There is really no justice in a photo but I snapped one off anyway. I love the Blue Ridge.

Part of this area burned a year or two ago, adding to the already existing diversity in terrain. You can see this in some of the photos.

Later, we were coming down to the road, and two large wreckers were towing a truck down the road. Simon whinnied excitedly to the trucks, followed by several more whinnies. He got all peppy, and when we got onto the road, Simon wanted to run after them. So I let him have his head and we galloped down the forest road, with Simon whinnying his heart out. Eventually Simon began to flag and we slowed to a walk and let the trucks pull away from view. It was too funny.

It was a fantastic day and an awesome ride.












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