Friday, October 21, 2011

Rode that horse: Boca Reservoir

First, thank you to everybody who commented. It really did make me feel a lot better to know that I'm not the only one who gets besieged by the bad thoughts. Thank you. :)

I hauled Dixie up to Boca Reservoir today. I even took lots of pics! With the good camera! But I left it in the truck so you'll have to suffer with text because I'm too lazy to walk all the way to the garage. ;)

Boca is a good riding spot for me, I think. It's surprisingly unpopular - there were four camping rigs in the day area, and a couple more day-trippers on dirt bikes. It's west of the California ag inspection station - not that they have ever inspected me for anything, but I live in mild dread of the day they ask me for a health cert. Probably 30 miles from my house, so much closer than the actual Tahoe trails.

There are several campgrounds (some horse-friendly) at Boca and at the northern Stampede reservoir, but they close on Oct 1. The day use areas are fine: vault toilets, on the lake for horse water, decent gravel, no fees, and easy to pull thru if you don't like to back your rig. The lake is incredibly clear and even bluer than the picture on Wikipedia. Dixie thinks the dirt is tasty. She has a thing about eating small quantities of dirt from alpine lakes. It's some kind of trace mineral thing I guess.

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We parked at the day use lot at the northern end of the lake and took the gravel road east then south on "E Boca Springs Rd." Like all little grey roads on google maps of the Sierras, it's really an unnamed fire/logging "road" rather than something you'd drive a vehicle you cared about over. There's even a sign warning you not to take a car on it. I absolutely adore Forest Service signs, because they printed and stuck up one hundred years' worth of signs in the 1970s and they're not going to update them until we all have jetpacks or something. The warning sign for Boca Springs Road is Forest Service brown, with an outline drawing of a 70s station wagon and the "no" circle-slash through it. Directly behind the sign there's a creek washout that might high-point my four-wheel-drive truck, just in case you didn't believe the sign.

If you look at the google map, I could've taken Forest Road 72 north all the way up to Verdi Peak, or E Boca Springs south a couple of miles. I decided to take the shorter route today - I was not training or conditioning, just out having fun primarily. We made it about 2.5 miles up this gloriously beautiful trail. A nice 5 mile round trip.

Dixie was sure there were bears in the woods. Or perhaps wolves, she's not too clear about what the mortal danger is. There was a lot of stopping and staring on her part, and I just enjoyed the vistas. Didn't see anything bigger than a hawk. The "road" got narrower and narrower, and many stretches were nothing but fist-sized rock. I was worried about her front right boot but all four stayed on and kept her comfortable.

We climbed a lot through forest, then wound through a meadow, then went through another patch of forest and heard gunshots. I listened for a while and we walked into the next meadow, but I couldn't see the shooters and I just wasn't sure what direction they were firing. Most people who actually go target shooting in the wilderness are careful and responsible people who pick their backdrops wisely, and I was wearing my bright red B:tVS shirt, but I decided to turn around anyway. (Stuff like that is exactly why I don't like to train in brand new areas - since I'd told myself it was a pleasure ride, I wasn't upset that it was "too short" or anything.)

When we zipped back to the start, I noticed two guys pulling in to ride dirt bikes. I asked Dixie to keep trotting, but she wanted to veer over and investigate them, so I let her. The one guy was already suited up on his bike, and he killed the engine to talk to me and wait for his buddy to unload his bike from his truck. Dixie carefully inspected his bike and let him scratch her head! (Who is this horse? Where did she come from? Is she really mine?) They said there's actually an (unofficial?) gun club range back there and that's the shooting I heard, but agreed that riding in the mountains toward unknown gunfire is possibly not the safest of ideas. They confirmed that the other leg of the road, 72, is much longer, but I didn't even ask them about footing - our definitions of "good footing" are too different. The buddy got the bike unloaded so I bid them farewell.

We crossed the main road and headed back into the day use area and I saw a new RV. It was parked at the other end of the (very large) lot I'd parked in. A yellow lab in paroxysms of excitement came leaping toward us barking its head off. The human was right behind it, trying to get "Rose" to chillax a bit. She was having none of it. I rode my very calm horse very slowly toward them, talking to Rose and her owner, then hopped off and walked in when the human got a hand on Rose's collar. Rose had never seen a horse before and was clearly having the best day of her entire life. She wasn't aggressive, just unbelievably excited about the huge! white! monster! in her world. She was so cute, and I think both Dixie and I were good horse ambassadors. I know Dixie was - she was totally unfazed by Rose and just wanted to eat some weird scrubby plant growing in the parking lot.

After the humans had chatted for a while and Rose was dragged away, I rode Dixie down to the lake. She got all four feet wet, thought about drinking, and ate some half-dead aquatic plants. I thought about insisting that she wade further into the lake, but why? I'm sure I could've insisted and have her do it, but there was no real need.

We spent about 15 minutes hanging out at the trailer, but Dixie wasn't interested in eating any more mush so after I finished my snack we rolled out. Laura's last post on EI was about barefoot vs. shod, and I commented that I hardly talk about my boots because they are hardly blogworthy, but here goes: I put them on in about 1.5 minutes and they stayed on the whole ride. The "road" I took was NOT barefoot friendly. Boots or shoes+pads only. We walked/gaited/trotted only. I was worried about the right front, but even though it didn't fit right it didn't budge.

Dixie had lovely picture-perfect feet going into NASTR, but the idleness of late summer (and my own amateur trim jobs) let a lot of REALLY HARD false sole build up. I've been working diligently on them for a month now and last week the false sole finally started to shed on its own. A sharp hoof knife didn't budge it. New nippers didn't budge it. A sharp rasp glanced right off the stuff. A little rain finally broke it up / triggered Dixie's body to shed it - 1/8 to 1/4" chunks of sole have been coming out for a couple of weeks now. Three of her frogs shed off completely, and three feet flaked out all the dead sole and got trimmed. Not the RF! When we got back from the ride/lake, I pulled off most of the frog and flaked out a bit at the toe but there's still this huge wedge, especially in the medial heel. I think tomorrow I will aggressively mustang roll the medial wall so that the false sole is all that's weightbearing - I don't know what else to do. It's like iron.

I'm gonna have to turtle* this NEDA ride next weekend - Dixie is at about 75% yak status and she's not in tip-top shape. I'm thinking about going back to Boca on Monday and doing 10-15 miles on FS 72, just to get Dixie's cardio back in shape for next weekend, but that's all the prep I care to do. The NEDA ride is 20 flat sandy miles, and if it takes 5 hours, who cares? I could clip her neck, but I'm not planning much for the winter so I think I'll skip it.

*probably tie for turtle, if Susan M rides. She is firmly in the "getting one's money's worth per hour" camp and she always turtles rides she attends!

Next post: more pictures, fewer words.


  1. that shirt! omgosh, how can you hear anything over the sound of how awesome you are?

  2. The rides I enjoy the most, are the ones with no preconceived goals, just the ride.

    Sounds like you had the perfect ride!


  3. Funder--Ok, the boots sound ideal. If I lived where you live (and I've ridden in the Sierras a lot in my life so I'm familiar with the sort of places you ride), I would probably start experimenting with boots. We just don't have that much rock here on the coast and my barefoot horses don't need the boots. But I hear you about rock that is hard even on shod horses minus pads (I've been there). Great post!

  4. Sounds like a fun ride... I'm jealous of all the places you have around you to ride. We don't have a lot of those around here and the ones we do have are all woods... boring! Can't wait to see the pictures.


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