Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hidden Mesa

Picking a place to ride on Saturday was complicated by the arrival of fall rains on Weds and Thursday (T had his regional race in the rain. More on that later.) Our original thought was the East-West Regional trail, but was afraid that it would be too muddy to ride. I got out my trail riding books and decided maybe we could try Hidden Mesa. Becky and Goose have blogged about this ride and it's been on my to-ride list for a while.

We should have listened to the directions in the book, but really thought that driving I-25 to Castle Rock and then going East would be better. It would have been perfect in a car but pulling a horse trailer made it a bit touchy. The road goes through part of the city and then suburban housing before finally leveling out into a road that is easy to pull a trailer on. We went home via Parker to Lincoln Ave just like we should have gone out. As it was, we drove past the opening to the Open Space parking lot and had to go up and turn around. That was fun.

The Open Space welcome center. Nice bathrooms and plenty of parking.

Panoramic view of the parking lot. Plenty of room for multiple trailers if needed.

I got visors for K and I. She had much better luck putting hers on. I needed to remove the built in small visor before the Salamander visor it would stay stuck to the helmet. I'm so special.

Starting out on trail.

We crossed the Cherry Creek trail, which we could have ridden south to Castlewood Canyon or way north (20 miles) to Cherry Creek park. Unlike my deep desire to ride from Indian Creek to Chatfield via Waterton Canyon, I have zero desire to ride from Hidden Mesa to Cherry Creek. There is no cover and the trail is sidewalk.

I started out in front boots, but Ashke is more sore in them than out of them. Please someone, explain that to me. I've stopped booting in the back and am hopeful that I can get his front feet right over this winter.  If I can't ride him barefoot next year I'm seriously considering doing shoes on the fronts only for the summer. Maybe the Easy shoes. With glue. I'm really tired of boot issues. I pulled the boots and he was moving better except over heavy rock, and then he wasn't moving worse than he would have been in the shoes.

First water crossing two minutes from the trailer and he drank.
Such a good boy.

There was a nice spot where we stopped to pull Ashke's boots and let J shed some clothes. There was a hitching post and a picnic table.

The color was pretty incredible. 

Such a pretty section of trail.

The back side of the picnic area.

 A crossroads of sorts. The sign pointed left to Rocky Pass and right to Pleasant Pass.
Guess which one we chose?
(Actually, I knew from Becky's post that we wanted to use the new pass and go to the right.)

 K and I are taking turns leading.

Overall, I want a horse that can ride in whatever position in the group I chose. To that end, we have been taking turns leading. Eddy walks really slow when he is in the lead, which becomes very frustrating for Ashke after awhile, so if we are held to walking I will try to rate Ashke behind Eddy for awhile and then finally ask to go ahead. Eddy walks at Ashke's pace when Ashke is in front. Eddy, however, trots faster than Ashke, which leads to so very interesting conversations with Ashke. He is getting better but we still have work to do.

 J powered up the mountain. We took a five minute break about half the way up, but then she just did it. Rock Star!!

 Love the Orange gloves.

Rocky Pass trail across the valley.

Ashke carries his tail up the entire ride.

Picture of the colors. 

J following us up the hill with her camera in hand.
She is very talented.

   The sky was incredible. The land was bathed in the colors of fall.
It was absolutely an amazing ride.
 The top of the Mesa had housing off to the West, but an incredible view of the Front Range.
The second level of mountains were covered with snow.

 Eddy with the mountains in the distance behind him. 
K is doing well in the Abetta saddle the fitter told her was a good fit.

We stopped to eat some more once we were on the top of the mesa. The ride works better for J if she gets some sugar in her after a hard climb. I have figured out a new fav for lunch. I packed a hard boiled egg, mini bagels and hummus. It was great and gave me good energy for the rest of the ride. One egg wasn't really enough and on Sunday I supplemented my lunch with an additional egg.

See my birthday gift? It is a sheepskin cover for my Alta. It is amazing.
And I don't slip in my slick saddle any more. I loves it!!

 We rode the Mesa Rim Loop and entered a magical place.

See the slick rock? See the distant horizon. It was so cool.

Eddy and Ashke like each other.
Although Ashke doesn't like Eddy being right on his heels. Doesn't like it when Amaar does it either.

 Eddy doesn't care if Ashke is in his ass though.

 The rock was unreal.

 There was so much slick rock and the pics don't do it justice.

There was some pretty technical moments where the step down or up was more than normal.
Both Ponehs handled it well. I was really happy we were bare through this section, since boots can slide on slick rock.

 Might be one of my all time favorite pictures of us.

 It was pretty darn picturesque.

 Ashke was pretty happy with our ride. Tail still up.

We moved around to the East side of the Mesa and moved back to dirt trails, which allowed us to move a bit faster.

We found a nice long straight, mostly uphill, section of trail that was probably almost a mile long. It had some holes at the beginning, courtesy of the prairie dogs (K and I were taking turns calling out the holes depending on who was leading).  We cantered the entire section, with a touch of a gallop toward the end. We were both laughing so hard at the end. J followed us up and when she reached us I told her I wanted to do it again. She said she would wait for us to come back. We trotted in a collected trot to the bottom of the hill and when I turned Ashke around I had a fire breathing dragon on my hands. Even in the lead, he had his head straight up in the air and was fighting me to be allowed to go. I held him to a contained canter until we were past the holes in the trail, and once I heard K and Eddy pass the hole, I let him go. K said later we hit 23 mph according to her app. J caught the last bit of the run on video.

Heading back to the Pleasant Pass trail.

Eddy was leading and spooked at the bench, so we walked over it.

 Very little Bull Snake sunning himself on the sidewalk. We tried to get him to move so a bicycle wouldn't run over him, but he wasn't interested in moving. He's awfully small for so late in the season.

 In the river again on our way back to the trailer.

I got Ashke to canter up the waterway.

Eddy did a high snapping trot.

Once back at the trailer, we got them unsaddled, fed and then loaded. Forty-Five minutes later we were home. It was a magnificent ride that we all loved. There are so many incredible trails so close to us that I can't even stand it. This one though, stood out. It is definitely in the top three.

And for those of you who have been following Ts saga, he made the Regional team, raced on Thursday and had a PR. He ran in 24:53 with a 7:54 average mile. We are super proud of him. Can't wait to see him receive his letter again this year.


  1. I keep repeating myself, but you are so lucky to have all the trail options you do. Makes me want to move to Colorado. Congrats to T as well!!

  2. J is a freaking BEAST. And Love that you have a new saddle cover. Sheepskin is the best!

  3. I love that trail! I only live about 15 min away, so spoiled. I only wish the East-West trail was more trail and less sidewalk (it used to be, gotta love the suburban sprawl) so there was more mileage. I'm glad you got a chance to ride it, the slick rock really is very cool. The "Rocky Pass" was a bit of a fun technical challenge (for horses, not bikes!), I still go up it sometimes if I booted Goose. Also, if I boot him I can really fly around the top, but the one side is too rocky to do more the walk if barefoot.....but then again, that's the pretty side of the loop, so you can enjoy the views! I usually gallop that hill a few times too, it's just begging to be galloped. I'm impressed J made it up with only one break, that's a pretty good hill to get up. Bet she had fun on the way down! Next time you do it let me know, we should meet up!

    1. Becky - that trail was every bit as good as you promised. It is one of the top two trails we enjoy and I was really happy to finally make it out there to ride. (Not too hot, but no snow yet).

      You should try the East-West Trail from Santa Fe and Highlands Ranch. It starts sidewalk, the goes to crusher fine and then is singletrack for miles. We've done a twenty mile ride there earlier this year.

      The Cherry Creek trail is the one I was disappointed in. It's long but really only intended for bikes and people can be jerks.

      I would have let you know we were going to Hidden Mesa but it was a last minute thing and I wasn't sure where you were in your surgery/recovery/able to ride again path. We will definitely meet up for a ride in the spring. And maybe you can haul to Spring Gulch Equestrian area and ride the East-West regional trail from the end by Chatfield with us. The single track through the scrub oak is amazing. Have you done Indian Creek?