Sunday, October 9, 2016

Birthday Present

Friday night I talked J into getting my birthday present early, since I really wanted it for our ride on Saturday, which was supposed to be Indian Creek to Waterton Canyon.

I chose the Hero 4 Sessions camera for a couple of reasons: size (less than an inch and a half square), weight (about half the weight of the regular Go Pro) and waterproof to 33'.  Plus, it was $199, which is about as much as I can justify spending on a birthday present for myself. (In case you feel sorry for me, we are also doing dinner with friends on Friday - including taste testing a variety of tequilas - the pumpkin patch and corn maze on Saturday, then the Melting Pot with my mom a week later). I was also expecting that learning to operate the Hero 4 sessions would be easier that the Silver, which T has and which I've never been able to figure out how to take videos on it. The only real downfall is that battery can't be replaced, so once it dies, it's dead. The video life is 2 hours. I got 2.5 hours before mine failed. I will need to carry a back up charger and recharge the camera if we take a break for lunch.

We got it charged, got a SD card in it, and I practiced a few times until I kind of figured out how to make the camera work (I needed J to help get it synced to my phone). Some of the things to know: download the manual from the website and read - it explains a lot of the finer parts of operating the camera; there are several different settings for the vid camera - learn which one will work best for you; three beeps means its on and recording; one beep followed by several more means the camera is storing the information and turning itself off. 

Saturday morning, on a whim, I checked the website for Waterton Canyon and discovered that it was scheduled to be closed Saturday and Sunday. We changed plans and decided to ride Dowdy Draw, Community Ditch, part of Marshall Lake and Greenland Mesa. We made plans to meet K and A at the barn at 9:30 (Ashke got fall shots first) and head for the trail head. The shots went quickly, loading was easy and we headed for the trailhead. We drive right past the trailhead for Marshall Lake and on a whim I suggested we see if there was parking available. There was, so we parked there rather than at Fairview Vista, pulled the horses out to eat their pre-ride bucket and ate our lunch. After lunch was over, we started tacking up. I had Ashke dressed and ready when K realized her saddle girth was attached to her other saddle in the basement of her house. Luckily, her husband was home and willing to bring the girth out to us, so I set the horses up with some hay and we waited for the necessary equipment to arrive. 

 Eating lunch and hanging out.

W showed up in record time and we were ready to ride a few minutes later. J and I had talked about A's first experience with Dowdy Draw and decided going up was less scary the first time than going down and A is just being to get her mountain bike legs under her. Leaving the parking lot after a very memorable meeting with a Boulder Park Ranger (drop dead gorgeous with an awesome smile and I think she plays for our team), we headed west.

The trail starts uphill and left both J and A breathing pretty hard after a 400' altitude gain in about a quarter mile. This trail is incredibly rocky and the last time we rode this way, Ashke only walked. On Saturday, we walked, trotted and cantered at will. 

You can see J and A waiting as we are making our way toward them.

We reached the Community ditch and turned west, crossed under Hwy 93 without dismounting for the first time and rode the ditch to the edge of the mountains. I was so pleased with Ashke. He is getting much more willing to be rated regardless of what Eddy is doing. The ground was hard and rocky and we spent most of that part of the ride at a trot, just because it was mostly downhill. When I could get him to walk, he was at a 4.2 mph walk, but not much faster at his traveling trot. K and Eddy cantered off several times and I was able to keep Ashke with me without a fight. I credit our dressage lessons and Amanda for the difference. He was happy to listen without fighting and we just relaxed with each other.

We took a brief break and ate some snack while letting the horses graze before tackling Dowdy Draw. 

 Can you see the Hero on the top of my helmet?
The weight was minimal and I kind of forgot it was there. Although we did hit a couple of tree limbs before I started ducking more.

Leaving our snack spot for the Draw

The rocky ford at the base of the Draw has been replaced with a serious wooden bridge that might actually withstand any kind of flash flood the small stream could throw at it. We crossed and headed up the Draw. I love this part of the ride. The video I took was 12 minutes long. I broke them into 30 sec clips so you can see both the terrain and the elevation gain without having to slog through a 12 min vid. You are welcome.

Rocks were intense. Ashke didn't care.
Shoes for the win.

J and A had to handwalk the bikes a couple of times, due to the rocks, but once they were able to pass the big rocks, they rode the rest of the trail. My wife is a badass!!

The temp was perfect with just a little wind.

The final part of the Draw.

At the top, we only waited for a couple minutes before J and A were there with huge smiles on their faces. A really likes riding with J and I'm really happy that we have found someone who will ride with us that enjoys the trails as much as we do. 

At the top of the Draw, Kate decided to do a longer loop which the rest of us were not interested in doing, since the rocks are intense. We made arrangements to meet up later down the trail and headed out.

K going off on her own

Me going with the bikes

J goes first and then A
You can tell when I let Ashke run cuz his ears go back

J and I on the top of the Mesa

We found a tree and waited about 30 minutes for K and Eddy to catch up. We were trying to figure out where to leave a note for K to tell her we were headed toward the trailer, when she rode into sight. We rode to the intersection of Hwy 93 and 120th, crossed the road at the light, then headed up Greenland Mesa.

You can hear me when K rides past: It's not a race.
He listened and complied.
I love this horse!!

Then the GoPro died. So no more video. 

 Autumn in the Rockies

 The colors are incredibly vibrant

 This country is breathtaking

 K staying in the grass as much as possible, since Eds was showing a bit footsore.

 We traversed slick rock without any slipping or issues with riding in shoes.

J and A waiting in the shade for us to catch up.
They loved the downhills.

This ride was a testament of how well shoes are working for Ashke. He was forward, eager, happy and willing the entire ride. We had two times in the ride where he hesitated a little, probably due to stepping directly on a rock point, but was immediately okay the next step. There was no slipping with his hind legs at all. It was also a testament to the dressage training we are doing weekly. He was much more willing to listen and respond, just as I was more willing to be an active riding partner for him. Overall, it was a great ride.


  1. Happy Birthday early!!! I love how you guys seem so amenable to everything when you ride as a group. Running late? Ok...we will wait. Forgot tack...ok...we will wait. Go a different trail? Ok..we will meet up again later.

    1. We are pretty chill. Life is too short to get upset by the little stuff and we don't have pressing concerns to be anywhere at a particular time (our kids have hit the age of self-entertainment and not wanting to hang with the parental units). I think it would be different if any of us had somewhere we had to be.