November 1, 2008

Steve's Pot Luck Trail Rides

Once in a while, we hear about a trail from someone and try it out, but since we’ve been on far more outings than anyone else we know, most of the time Steve plots our adventures on his own.
Well, one essential tool is a Topo! CD of Utah. He surveys BLM and National Forest land for areas we haven’t covered, or areas we want to cover more thoroughly. Depending on the time of year, he picks an altitude that won’t be too hot or cold, or where aspens will likely be changing, if it’s fall, or leaves coming on, if it’s spring, or devoid of snow, if winter has set in.
We check NOAA (national weather report) for temperatures and rain/snow probabilities at a given altitude to be sure the prediction is acceptable. NOAA isn’t always right, of course, but it’s better than nothing.
From our location in the Uinta Basin, an hour’s drive north toward the Uinta Mountains will take us to 10,000 feet. This makes for great riding on hot summer days.
The lowest elevation we can reach within an hour is 4800 feet, southeast on the Green River. (Our house in Roosevelt is at 5300 feet.) This area makes a good ride in early spring (February) or late fall (through November). Usually cold and snow shuts down our riding in December and January. No problem, though. The horses get a little rest while we keep in shape with cross country skiing.
In between the two extremes of elevation, we have plenty of intermediate possibilities down south toward the Book Cliffs. Those rides are excellent during the month of October and will be perfect again by early April.
Obviously we’re fortunate in our proximity to a vast array of public lands, and in the variety of ride choices. On still days, we can opt for ridges. When NOAA says 30mph wind, we go for the valleys and canyons.
In an area we’ve never been before, sometimes we find an unexpected patch of private land with a locked gate. Usually, though, there are roads or paths that go around.

Water is always a consideration, since much of Utah is dry country. If the outing is going to be more than 10 miles, we try to find a spring on the map and plan a stop there to give the horses and dog a drink.
Steve usually double checks an unfamiliar route on Google Earth, which will sometimes show roads or trails that are not on Topo!, or reveal that a Topo! trail doesn’t exist. A county road map is also useful, since it outlines obscure 2-tracks that may take us where we want to go.
Once we’ve decided on a route, Steve draws it out on Topo!, prints a map of the desired area, and loads the route onto his GPS.
And we’re off!

1 comment:

  1. There is such cool technology available these days. It is inspiring to see how much you guys are out taking full advantage of nature.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin