Thursday, August 12, 2010

Winter Park, Mesa Trail, and some weave practice

My contract work is mostly done for now.  There will probably be little bits of mop up work as time rolls on but for the most part I'm on vacation.  How long that vacation lasts remains to be seen but for right now I'm so tired and burnt out that I'm not going to think about it for a bit.  Going to cram everything I can into what's left of the summer.

Starting with a trip to Winter Park where I got nice and dirty riding my bike.

They'd been inundated with rain so parts of the trail were way muddier than I've ever seen them.  But the wildflowers were out of hand, going crazy all over the place.  And yeah I know I have gnarly knees.  Those knees have seen a lot and have earned every scar and wrinkle.

Tipperary Creek Trail

Do I look ready for my race?
Wait, don't answer that.

Flume Trail

The Winter Park area has been hit hard by the pine beetle kill but this view was a shocker to me.

Just last year this part of the trail was dense, dark, shady forest, certainly there were no mountain views.  You can see the huge pile of dead trees and you can see the brown hillsides of dead trees in the photo above it.  It's been a dramatic and fairly catastrophic event to watch over the years, whole mountainsides turned to brown in the space of a few months.  On the plus side there were copious amounts of wildflowers springing up in the new 'meadows' or 'sunspots' I believe is the logger's euphemism for the space left behind after a clear cut.  Unfortunately the beetles have made their way to this side of the Continental Divide (Winter Park is on the other side) and just this past weekend I spotted some newly dead trees on the West Mag trails.  It's just a matter of time until we start seeing the same brown hillsides here.

In the end it was a 3 hour ride and I was tired but it was a great day on the trails.  The Tipperary Creek Trail is one of my favorites but it's a long way to Tipperary and these days I'm less willing to make the 1 3/4 hour trip when West Mag is 40-45 minutes away.  But it's nice to get out of town every once in a while for something other than a dog trial where I often don't get to see much other than the agility ring.

The day after my encounter with the bear I took Strum for a hike on the opposite end of the Mesa Trail.  There's still a good chance to run into bears and snakes and maybe a lion but I decided to risk it.

Because it's a nice trail and only 20 minutes away.

And Strummy can go off leash

Everything is so lush and green right now.  It's been a nice summer for moisture.

I kept him on leash a good bit of the time in places where bear/lion/snake encounters were more likely or in places where it would be problematic if I did run into something.  He doesn't stray far from me anyway so being off leash for him isn't all that big a deal but it's nice to be able to let him go when I'm hiking down the steep rocky bits so he doesn't pull me.

As it happens the trailhead is right next to the project I've been working on these past months.  They're nowhere near to starting construction on the house renovation which is the part I worked on but they're constructing the riding arena and had just put up 72' long trusses the other day.  I could see them from the trail but apparently they looked more impressive close up at the job site.  Even more impressive is how they got them up the narrow residential curvy dirt driveway/road to the site.  I can't even imagine how that worked.

In all the hike took around 2 1/4 hours, not sure how far that is distance wise but without a dog I can do it in around 1 hour 50 minutes.  It's amazing how much time his sniffing eats up.  But I was tired from the trail run the day before so I wasn't in a hurry anyway.  Sometimes it's good to kick back and smell the pee.


Last night I finally made it to my friend's house to practice some 'over the top' agility.  She's got a couple of high drive dogs so we took turns running our dogs in the hopes that we could proof for the excitement of a trial.  I'm not sure how helpful I was to her but this was excellent practice for Strummer and finally I was able to get the failed entries that I see in trials but not at the practice field when I go by myself.  There was quite a lot of failure actually but we worked through it.  Sometimes he almost seems to get some kind of loop in his head and he'll repeat the same thing incorrectly over and over.  I have this problem with the dog walk too.  Part of me thinks it's best to stop and give him a break when this happens but the other part thinks maybe it's better to keep working at it until he succeeds and then stop.  I went with the second option last night but I'm not sure that was the best decision.  I know I need to keep at it but sometimes I feel like I'm bashing my head against the wall and need to try something else.  But what else there is to try I don't know.  My friend thought at first that he wasn't collecting but after a while she could see that he was but that he was almost aiming for the second pole as if that's what he thought he was meant to do and I've often felt this as well.  She pointed out that I was being sloppy with my body positioning and that it would help him if I paused and let him get the entry before moving forward.  Sometimes this helped sometimes it didn't, I do this at trials with the same mixed results.  I had been proofing for motion out at the field so I wasn't too surprised.  It's SO nice to have a second set of experienced eyes when I'm practicing though.  I wish I could have returned the favor and been more helpful but it was all I could do to keep Strummer under some semblance of control when she ran her dogs.  Also she wanted me to tug with him and get him riled up next to the contact equipment so she could proof her contacts so I couldn't watch too closely but wow her dog stuck his 2 on/2 off even with Strum going nuts with his tug right next to him.  It's hard to proof for trials when your dog is that good in practice.

We're going try to practice some more, she lives about 7 minutes away so it's very handy for me and her agility yard is fantastic.  Beautiful lush grass with a gorgeous view of Boulder and the Flatirons below.  Over the top agility at the top of the world I call it.  Hopefully I can get his issue worked out by DOCNA Champs next month.

We've got at least one day of a DOCNA trial this weekend so we'll see if the practice helped.  I only signed up for Saturday but they're taking day of entries so I may go on Sunday too but with 3 days in a row of seminars next week I'm thinking maybe I should give us both a break.


  1. Love the pics of Winter Park! I used to live in Fraser (near the old stage coach stop)when I had my horses.

    So they are going to take day of trial entries? I might show up one day with Sage and Soleil. My whole purpose would be to socialize the puppy so maybe I'll not take Sage and just bring the puppy to walk around. I'm assuming that puppies are ok in DOCNA? Of course, it is a public park...

  2. We were actually riding in Fraser moreso than Winter Park. I love Fraser, we're always picking out houses and figuring out how we could live there. If I had a house up there with horses you'd never see me again.

    I can't imagine why it would be a problem to have a puppy at the trial. I guess I don't know for sure if there's any official kind of rule but I've never heard of it being a problem other than for the pup with risk of disease but I see puppies at USDAA trials all the time. I can't recall seeing them one way or the other at DOCNA but it would never cross my mind that it would be a problem. I took Lola to NADAC and USDAA trials all the time when she was a pup and nobody ever said anything negative to me. DOCNA trials are pretty laid back, I just can't imagine anyone would hassle you or why they would have a problem with a puppy at a trial. And yeah it's a public park anyway. I vote bring her on Sat. so I can give her skritches.

  3. AKC does not allow puppies under 6 mos. at trials. Of course, everyone breaks that rule but you kind of have to keep them "hidden".

    Ok, I will bring her on Saturday. Just Soleil so I can focus on her without running a dog.

    You HAVE to hear her little gremlin growl when she tugs - it's so cute.

    Let me know if you want me to film your runs while I'm there.

  4. Well that is just stupid. How are you supposed to socialize the pups and get them used to trials if you can't bring them until 2 months after the major socialization window closes?

    I'm sure everyone at the trial will love to see your pup. I can't wait to see how big she's gotten.

    I'd love to have my runs filmed if you happen to be around.

  5. The photos are gorgeous! Sometimes hard to believe they're real. :-)

    The only promising thing I've read about the pine beetles lately was that this, too, shall pass, and that they're more of a sign of our unnatural control of fires than of climate change. But I guess we'll find out in a few decades. (Yeah, I plan on being around the confirm.)

    Love the tassels on the handlebars! I craved some when I was a kid but they were too pricey for our budget. Very cool.

  6. So sad about those trees, must be shocking to see such a dramatic change. Gorgeous photos of the rest, though. The broken plastic covering the bear/cougar sign looks rather ominous...