Yoshi and I headed out to San Felasco State Park this morning. It was just us again, but I felt much more confident than our first solo trip
back in May. I took a better look at the map this time and managed to ride basically where I wanted/planned. Yoshi was a bit up in the parking lot; there were other people there getting tacked up, and he was quite interested in their horses. As soon as we headed out onto the trail he settled though.
The first part of the Cellon Loop is really sandy, kind of deep in some spots. The return part of the loop has much better footing but leads into the hikers parking area. It's very close to the equestrian parking, so I need to remember to just start from there next time. We moseyed for quite some time before coming to the option to take the Turkey Creek Loop.
Most of the trails are through the woods, so Yoshi had a grand time participating in his favorite trail riding activity - brushing his face up against foliage as we pass. He doesn't try to eat, he just... feels things with his face as we go by.
|Must feel tree with my face....|
As we got to the power line cut we briefly chased a group of deer along for a while. After we crossed the large power line cut, the trail got very narrow and fairly hilly. He did well with the ups and downs. We paused to let a group of cyclists cross at a meeting of the equestrian and cycling trails. He was unimpressed by having to stand still, but not at all spooked by the cyclists, so I'll take it. The last person in the group was someone I work with, she yelled "HI" and even though I know that she goes there to cycle, it was pretty surprising to me.
We popped out onto a slightly wider cut by "soggy bottom pond". We also had a very close encounter with a deer there that prompted just a slight bop to the side. We cantered down the trail for a little while and then came back out onto the power line cut. It had only been 2.8 miles at that point, definitely not the full 4.4 of the loop, so I figured we must have missed a turn at one point and we turned back around. We used the opportunity to canter along again, which Yoshi thought was great fun. We re-encountered the same doe and again, even though we were cantering, he just popped a bit sideways.
|Hello deer friend|
The back part of the Turkey Creek Loop was well marked, but got a bit hairy in sections. The creek is so, so pretty with clear, flowing water. The banks are too steep to get down to it, so we just admired from the top. Unfortunately feral pigs have torn up a lot of the area near it and there were some pretty deep muddy spots. Unlike the trails in the front that are pretty meticulously cleared, there were significantly more down trees. One was in the muck from the pigs and about 2' high. I walked Yoshi up to it, expecting him to just step over it, but it seemed like he could not figure it out. I ended up jumping a 2'6"ish section kind of off the trail with a very short approach because even when we reapproached the smaller section on the trail, he just got way, way too close to it with his feet and then froze. Definitely a brain break moment, but he was very nice and responsive to steering off the trail, so it worked okay.
Some of the trails at the far end are marked "for carriages" and "not for carriages". But I honestly cannot imagine a carriage traveling up/down these. We actually got to the section I used to be able to ride into from a different barn. I was last on those trails with Zing, 4+ years ago, it was interesting to see them through a different set of bay ears. Although Zing could do no wrong, ever, I have to admit, Yoshi is the best trail horse I've ever ridden. Other than a few moments early on in the ride where he thought the second I touched the reins from a loose rein walk meant canter, he was absolutely perfect. Responsive, safe, sane. He had a nice swinging walk on the buckle most of the time. The trot sections were a bit quick, but eventually towards the end he softened into a nicer rhythm. And cantering him along was absolutely lovely, easy to go or woah and just a nice smooth flowing canter. He alternated between right lead and left lead on his own, pretty interesting to feel.
We eventually made our way back closer to home and had an option to go back the very narrow up/down portion or back by soggy bottom pond. Yoshi made it pretty clear which option he preferred, so we headed back by the pond and picked up a nice canter towards the power line cut. It started misting at one point so after walking through the power line cut (due to the possibility of meeting mountain bikers unexpectedly), we picked up a decent trot for most of the time home with one final canter on the last stretch.
We logged 8.75 miles in almost 2 hours. Average pace of 4.7mph, total of 290 feet of elevation gain. We saw loads of deer, a pileated woodpecker, a few sandhill cranes, and lots of ibis. There were also some really spectacular live oaks we rode past. Some of them must be a couple hundred years old. I love those trees.