Monday, August 18, 2014

Same trails, but never quite the same

I am very lucky to have trail access directly from my barn.  There's about a mile of flat trails, a set of steps/uphill, and then from there the trail splits and you can wander off in a few different directions. There are a finite number of real trails.  By now we know them all backwards, forwards, and sideways.  But there's always something, and it's not always just a different ride because of the horse!

Confetti and I are pretty easy to recognize, and I'll stop and chat with folks in the park on a semi-regular basis.  One lady chatted with us once and was very impressed? intrigued? by Confetti's "beautiful third eye".  We met her again a few months later and she was still very interested/awed by Fetti's "third eye." She remembered that it was Confetti, name and all, no prompting needed.  It's a very hippy/Santa Cruzian sort of thing to say, and yet I think she was totally serious about it.  I had no explanation the first time, and have no better explanation after the second time.

My schedule last summer was more consistent, and Thursday afternoons heading home Confetti and I would almost always see this one runner.  "You again!"  "Hi!  See you next week!"  as we went off our separate directions.  He quit coming after the time change, and I don't think he's been around this summer (but my Thursdays have been stranger times this summer, too).  Sure, it's not a great idea to always do the same thing at the same time, and I know there are risks with that.  I also know there are plenty of good, sane people in the parks who would be concerned if they saw my horse and I separated, and I'm enough of a "regular" that if I needed help, I could likely get it.  Tradeoffs.

Riding in the dark Friday night with a friend, just a short little ride - on our way out, we saw a car come zooming down the road, easily 20mph, and then it continued onto the trail rather than turning right onto the road.  It is, admittedly, not an obvious transition: the only cars normally allowed on that road are park ranger cars.  Rangers don't drive that fast and know where the road goes.  The car turned slightly, realized they couldn't get on the road, reversed, and KATHUNK!  We bailed off the horses and wandered on away.  Sympathy lost when they were going that fast.
We put the pieces of the puzzle together later.  There was a Trail Run in the park on Saturday, so the car was likely out marking trail Friday night.  They thought the road met the main road.  The car impacted a relatively small tree; we saw the broken red tail-light on Saturday and the scrapes on the (mostly unharmed) tree.  Tree: 1.  Car: 0.

Homeless folks frequent the first half-mile of trail as it connects to the main park.  You never know what you're going to see and what's going to get left behind.

A trail vaguely paralleling the road had someone littering this past weekend.  A few cans on the left.. another bottle or something way left.. and a colored newspaper smack in the middle of the singletrack trail.  Alas, my running monologue was insufficient warning for my riding partner right behind me.  Confetti trotted over it, careful not to touch it with her princess-hooves.  Riding partner's horse crowhopped over.  Sorry, riding partner: I really did mean an actual newspaper, not a theoretical might-be-there-someday newspaper!

Every summer we have several encounters with nude guys on the beach.  It's only weird/creepy if they're actively walking towards you and talking.  Meditating on the beach, oblivious to everyone else?  As long as it's relatively secluded, dude, whatever.

Once school starts back up, if we make it out for a late-summer ride (think September or October) past campus, at least one group of students will stop and stare and want to pet the ponies.  Half of them are probably stoned.  I am certain we've ended up in a handful of photos - probably on Instagram or something, who knows.

Mountain bikes flying down trails we rarely see them on, sometimes pausing and letting us clear the way so they can have a good run down.  I can't blame them - it's got to be a great hill to go down.  It's a heck of a hill for an uphill workout.

Deer.  Stupid deer.  I spent a few minutes explaining to a rather large buck that I'd like him to go away now, please, or else I'll.. um.. have to turn around, and that would be sad.  It's not an uncommon event, those explanations and ramblings at deer.  They don't even pretend to be listening most of the time.

There are children leaping into the water, cannonballs, drops, whatever, just off one side of the trail.  Screaming and yelling and general enthusiasm.  Others skip stones across the water and throw sticks for their dogs to retrieve.

Oh, and sometimes there's a guy on a unicycle that comes through the park.

It's certainly never dull around here.


  1. I have trail access too, isn't it great! But I totally agree, what is up with those deer? I taught my horse to chase them, which is fun, but can now be a problem as he wants to veer off trail. Some of the bucks this time of year get pretty aggressive.

    No naked folks or unicyclists here. But we do have a woman who rides a steer! We also have fisherman, and entire boy scout troops with clanging canteens and my favorite: rafters who HIDE under the raft thinking it a good idea. It's not.

    I love sharing the trail with the ultra-runners here. We just blast past each other, with a little nod.

    I don't think our horses need much desensitizing, the real world has done it for us. I have never encountered a pool-noodle fence in the forest, but maybe someday! Of course if we went to each other's forests, they might be idiots all over again!

    1. So, uh, pool noodles.. I've never seen them in a *fence* format in a forest, but they're walking around with children quite frequently in the summer. And inflatable rafts and inner tubes, too. Never a fence though!

      Rides a.. steer?! Wow.

  2. Wowza gee willikers. Sounds like you have a mock circus going on back there! Definite ingredients for an eventual bombproof horse, for sure! Keyword there being: eventual. Haha!

  3. Oh my goodness! You and Irish have painted quite the image of trail riding in California! None of that over here. At our park we'll get the rare mountain biker, hikers (some of them dressed in formal business wear which I don't really get, but I guess they're coming at lunch or after work? I wouldn't walk those trails in my nice work shoes) and people with dogs, sometimes off leash. Kind of boring by comparison, but not complaining! ;) Yours are a fantastic way of developing an unflappable bombproof horse though!

  4. I'm hoping to compile a "strange shit from the trail" post with photos soon! Only catch: pony must be bombproof enough for me to take photos. We sure do get some bizarre stuff.
    Formal business wear? In a park?! Crazy.