|Rhio and Leo hanging at the hitching rail pre-ride.|
The weather was fine, and after E. trailered Rhio to the new place for me, we saddled up and took off across the pasture to the far gate - which lets us directly onto a trail, part of the Reservoir Ridge trail system. This is a multi-use single track trail for horses, hikers/runners, and mountain biking. It is steep and rocky - quite a challenging climb after a little warm-up trot across the grassy area at the base of the ridge. Behind this ridge is a massive (over 500 billion gallons of water) reservoir (Horsetooth Reservoir) filled by a huge tunnel through the Rockies bringing water from the headwaters of the Colorado River on the Western Slope of Colorado to the eastern side, and therefore counteracting (and traveling beneath) the Continental Divide. Much as I hate to admit any admiration of a man-made body of water (I am a native Minnesotan, after all!), this thing is pretty dang impressive. The drive around it is spectacular, particularly at sunset.
Horsetooth also forms a big barrier between the trail system we were on, and the trails at Lory State Park, which sprawls along the northwestern side of the reservoir. Lory's trails are pretty great for trotting, and its a big treat after the long, technical climb to get to move out on them. We work hard to get there, including some terrain I would not have thought possible to travel on horseback. We cut down the west side of the ridge, cross the road and ride across one of the four dams that contain all that water. This gives us access to a small parking lot, from which we can head downhill to the northern shoreline. Now, the water level in the reservoir is fairly low and leaves this end with some exposed bottom and way to get between the cliffs and into Lory. Large sandstone boulders and blocks lie in our way, plus a descent to an innocuous-looking dry creek bed, which we then go up to reach the Lory trails. This whole route will be under water during higher water levels, but for now we and our trusty steeds can adventure our way to the reward that is a loop of trotting and cantering on the smooth trails of Lory in the late afternoon sun. Ahhh!
|Entering Lory from the east, after we've come up the little dry creek bed.|
|E. and Leo lead the way home, in the super technical middle section where we're heading cross-country around the northern end of the reservoir.|
|On the west side of the Reservoir Ridge trail system.|
|We have just crested the top of Reservoir Ridge, about to begin the descent, gazing out over Fort Collins spread in front of us, with the sunset glowing upon the city. (It was really more impressive in person!)|
It was a fine day. It was a good ride with great trail buddies. Rhio is all settled in and happy at his new home. I get to see him again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the one after that, too!