Sunday, August 16, 2009

Scouting out the trail

Today Michael and I were looking for someplace new to walk the dogs, so I suggested we park at the playground across the field from the barn, and walk along the trail the way I'll be going with Panama.

Because of where we parked, we started out at the residential street crossing, just past where Panama and I turned around last time. I wanted to see how far the trail goes before it intersects with another road, as I was having a hard time finding a map of the trail.

We didn't find another street crossing, and we walked for about 25 minutes before turning around. The trail follows a canal that used to be a main source of water and irrigation in the area, so it's a wide (50-foot?) swath that snakes back and forth across the metro area, most of which was farmland at one time. For the duration of our walk, therefore, the trail was lined on both sides with residential backyards, open space, parks, and one large, fenced-in wildlife preserve.

It was a beautiful walk, and I wish I had brought my camera. After we turned around and were walking back past the wildlife preserve, we had a beautiful view of the mountains in the distance, on the other side of a large field with long green-and-golden grasses. We'll probably walk it again before I am able to get Panama out that far, so I will be sure to take my camera next time!

I also succeeded in finding a sign with a trail map on it. The trail snakes back and forth and does indeed cross major roads in all the places I thought it did. I'll only ever want to ride east, because to the west the trail crosses a major thoroughfare three times in perhaps half a mile! And we're talking simple crosswalks, too — no lights or bridges where the trail goes underneath the road. No thank you!

In the other direction, there are two other trails that branch off at some point. One goes underneath the next major thoroughfare to the east. (Though a friend who lives in the area says there is a box under the bridge that squawks to pigeons to keep them from nesting there, and she's afraid Panama might be spooked by it. I think if we get that far, he'll probably be so desensitized by that point, he'll be fine.)

Meanwhile, the main trail snakes around to the north and then the west without crossing the road, only to cross a less major road a little while later. This crossing is also only a crosswalk, but the road is less busy, so if we ride during low-traffic times we should be fine. But again, it'll be a long time before Panama and I get to that point (we didn't even come close today), so I'll worry about that when we get there.

From there, it appears that the trail curves back around to the east and crosses the major thoroughfare a mile or so north of where the offshoot trail had. I believe the trail goes under the road there too, as I have driven on that stretch of road many times and never saw a trail crossing. The trail then snakes through a wealthy neighborhood ($2+ million dollar homes), crossing a small neighborhood road several times veering off again.

We're talking about a lot of trail here — miles of it. It'll be a while before Panama sees very much of what I describe. But it's nice to have a better idea now of where the trail goes and what I will have to contend with on our rides.

I decided to give him (and me) the weekend off, since we rode every day during the week, which is why my blog has been quieter than usual. Tomorrow, however, I have big plans: I want to get him back out on the trail again, and work on Not Shying Away from Trash Cans — and, depending on how that first exercise goes, Crossing a Residential Road without Freaking Out.



At August 16, 2009 at 9:45 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It's always good to know where you are going on your horse. I noticed a couple of trails that branched off the main trail I usually take, and hope to explore them sometime soon.

At August 16, 2009 at 10:50 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

NM, it's funny how several of us are doing similar things with our horses this summer. I've been following your practice trail rides, lessons, and trailering practice with a lot of interest, and I look forward to reading about how it goes when you get a chance to explore those trails. :o)


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