Monday, September 14, 2015

Bear Creek Expanded

On Thursday, T had a cross-country race south in our city. We were driving one of the main roads back north and there was a horse-crossing sign on the side of the road. In the middle of the city. J noticed it first (I was watching traffic), but I managed to turn my head and see a double track coming out of a line of trees. My interest was sparked and when I got home I looked the area up on a map. 
The trail led out of Bear Creek Lake park East. For miles, it looked like on the map. We could add a ton of miles to the ride by following the trail due north to the edge of the park before turning east and meeting up with the trail by the creek. I had a pretty good idea of how I was planning to go and very excited about the possibility of exploring new terrain. There is nothing that Ashke and I like more.

 J has added orange gloves to her colorful ensemble. 

 The only two dimensional object in the world: our shadow.

Headed West toward the river crossing.

Ashke out on a first day ride in the S Hack. He did pretty good.
I did discover that he plays with his tongue even without a bit in his mouth.
Like hangs it out a good foot.

J stayed on the road when she could. No sense in making it more difficult on her than needed.

 The trail leading to the first river crossing.

 K and the Eds. They were both a little on the low energy side.
It could have been the heat.

The river crossing by two kick ass trail horses.

 K and Eddy lead after the water crossing and Ashke did great following second.
He's getting better and better about going second.

A very cool pump at one of the parking spots in the park.

 J heading toward the road.

Because of the flooding two years ago, plus the high water we got this year, some of the trail along the creek has been tore up. The trail is closed, but we have ridden it in the past, because horses. The last time J went with us, but there was so much sand that she had to carry the bike in a couple of spots. She opted to take the road and meet us on the other side. K and I decided to ride through the creek bottom, since we both hate riding the road because of the speed of traffic. As we were riding the trail there was a gentleman using a backhoe to repair the damage, rebuild the trail and remove the sand. When we realized there was a backhoe there we headed off trail, wandered into the dead bog from Fellowship of the Rings, got yelled at and told we were not supposed to be off trail in the park (which I honestly didn't know was a thing) and finally made it back to the trail on the other side of the backhoe. It was an adventure and both horses did pretty good with manuevering the downed tree hazards of our off trail ride. 

The last ride we did at Bear Creek, this meadow was a grey mudflat with no green. It's completely come back alive in the month since we were there.

 Ashke being obedient in the S hack.

Then being skeptical.

We crossed the road and headed up the hill. At that point, we could have continued due north and picked up the trail next to the road, but there was also a trail that headed due east, which is ultimately where we wanted to go. It was already in the mid-80s and I wanted to get us all under the cover of the trees next to the creek as soon as we could.

 We headed up a long trail leading to the top of the dam. Heading north.

Then we turned back south and made our way down the back side of the dam.

 J was amused to find this sign behind the barbed wire fence.

When we got the to bottom of the dam we kept going south, looking for the trail that led east past the golf course. Instead, we found a trail that headed to the south and west of the dam, which was the road I was planning on taking back to the trailer. When the dirt trail met sidewalk, we turned to the East again, and headed toward one of the busiest road in the city. We were looking for access to the Creek trail through the subdivision. There was a woman walking her little dog when we turned into the housing area and J asked her if there was access to the creek. The woman told us no and had us turn around and go back. There was a supposed horse trail that wound next to the golf course that we had missed completely.

 Heading back down to the bottom of the dam. I could see the horse trail off to the right behind the maintenance shed.

There was even a sign marking the trail. 

The trail went up a fairly steep hill lined with rocks, topped out and went immediately downhill.
J handled it really well.

We found one of the river crossings. By that time I was looking for a place to eat lunch. It was frustrating not knowing where to go. 

 There was no bridge and so J hoofed it across.

 My wife is a bad ass!!

 It was pretty.

 We ate lunch there. J and I tried a new Lara bar, which was not very good. And it didn't provide me or J with the energy we needed. The Stinger bar was a much better choice. Actually, the hummus was a better option. Going forward we will make sure to 1) not eat cold cereal for breakfast, and 2) make sure we have enough complex carbs (not sugar) to go with our protein.

 We unsaddled the ponies to let them play in the water. Eds stood on the bank and ate.

 He was not interested in playing in the water.

Ashke on the other hand, would have laid down if he could have, but it was too rocky.

 Playing in the water.

After lunch we turned around. I was disappointed, but then again, I usually am when we turn around to go home. I am one of those people who would constantly want to climb the next hill to see what was behind it. However, it was hot. J was getting tired and K's left hip was bothering her. I turned back and by the time we had recrossed the creek I was back to happy again. J understands this insatiable desire to constantly go and knows she needs to rein me in before I ride us all to exhaustion (See Colorado Trail ride if you don't believe me).

I guess the golf course is private property and we had to stay on the trail.

Once we back tracked to the main trail, K and I headed up a fairly decent hill to the south of the dam while J stayed on the sidewalk around the golf course.

It wasn't horribly steep (like the Mesa trail) and it wasn't too rocky, but the drop off was fairly significant. Enough so, that my breath caught in my throat when Ashke shied away from the upper side of the hill. The trail is only about a step wide.
And not for anyone afraid of heights. Which K is not, thankfully.

Not quite even with the top of the dam.
Both the Bear Creek dam and Chatfield did their jobs this year and kept the communities downstream from being devastated by the rising water.

Now you can see the edges of Bear Creek Lake.

And now we are above the dam.

Less bush (which always feels like a safety thing) , more grass. Still steep.

The Eds being the sure footed, calm trail pony he is.

At the top of the plateau we waited for J, who we recognized by her gloves, to join back up with us. It was hot and a strenuous ride up that hill. After she had almost caught her breath she told us to go on, since it was downhill for her. K and I rode in a switchback down the hill, made the turn and headed back toward the lake. 

As we rode along this trail there was a prairie dog colony along the hillside. A dog came scurrying towards us, sliding down the hillside with little rocks and dust kicking up behind him. He stopped on the edge of a cut out in the hill and stood on his hind legs, then began to bark at us. It reminded me of a little kid running to the edge of the sidewalk to chant "horse, horse, horse" at us. Cracked me up.

Eddy saying it is pretty hot.

When we hit the bottom of the singletrack, there was a double wide, flat, perfect for galloping track that headed the way we needed to go. It had a slight uphill slope, but not very much. J opted that it looked good to her too and she took off ahead of us. K and I cantered to start, but it soon devolved into a hand gallop. We held it as long as we could and then slowed to catch our breath. Once I could breath without seeing stars, we took off again. Eddy and Ashke were running side by side, with Ashke keeping his ears pinned at Eddy. The app said our fastest speed was over 22 mph.

J said all she could hear was the two of us giggling like little girls.

We came to a stop at the top of a rise and J went down. She was bright red and did not look good. She said she felt like she had just hit a wall, and in retrospect we think it was a lack of food and the heat. I got off Ashke and pulled her camelbak out, opened it and dumped some of the water on the back of her neck to help cool her off. That helped. (She had heat stroke in 2005 and is super sensitive to the heat since then.) Once she felt a little better, we continued on until I found access to the creek, shade and a bench. She went into the creek and got her ankles and wrists wet, (the water was very cold), the top of her head and the back of her neck. Then we sat in the shade and she ate some apples. That did it's trick and she was looking better after that. It was pretty scary. She kept saying she was okay, but she didn't look okay. I wanted her to lie down in the water, but she declined. 

The truck was only a quarter mile or so from our shade spot and J could ride the road most of the way, so getting back to the truck was fairly quick. We sponged off the horses and gave them their feed. Then loaded and headed home. 

We will do that trail in the future, but will have to wait for the heat to break. A nice day in the 70's would be awesome.

I also think I figured out the issue with the Equitracks app losing my GPS. There is now a function for intermittent GPS location, instead of full GPS all of the time. According to the information I was able to find, intermittent GPS takes information every 32 feet, which causes it to use less battery life, but has the possibility to not be as accurate and to drop the signal. Going forward, I will change that when starting the ride. 


  1. Prairie dog encounter - another reason you live in one of the coolest places in the states.

    1. I've had them run from me before - never run at me. Cracked me up.

  2. We also saw a beautiful mule deer buck at the parking lot as we were tacking up. That's exciting to me.

    1. He was four or five points and gorgeous!!

  3. Stunning photos. Some parts of this trail remind me of the trails out here. I'm glad J suffered no ill effects from the heat sickness.

    Oatmeal with a handful of nuts and/or fruit and cottage cheese is one of my favorite "go long" breakfasts. :)

    We don't have prairie dogs but we have gophers. They're aggressive critters!

    1. I'm glad too. It scared me pretty badly to see her so pale. It was pretty close. She said she got goosebumps when she got in the shade, which tells you how close it was.

      We have gophers too.