Almost Taper Time

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Tevis creeps ever closer.

The mares are ready to go, last weekend we took them briskly up Mt. St. Helena. ?It's a five mile trip up 3,000 feet. ?We pulled a nice working trot the whole distance and they were tired but still eager at the last stretch to the peak. ?We even got a little competitive racing out of them up there. ?Coming back down we took it easy on the steeper downhill sections, time to start saving their muscles and joints for the Big Down Hill.

View from the backs of two Tevis-ready mares

View from the backs of two Tevis-ready mares

Tomorrow we head to the Sierra. ?Our plan is to park at Michigan Bluff and ride to Last Chance and back. ?This means that we will do the two most-difficult canyons of the grueling middle section of the ride - twice. ?Once backward and then swapping ends and coming back the 'right' way.

See maps and trail details at the Tevis website. ?The?first canyon - ?lies between the Last Chance and Deadwood stops. ?It was carved by the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River and the trail to traverse it is about four miles of steep. ?The second canyon - El Dorado - was also carved by tributaries of the Middle Fork and its six miles always feel more than 50% worse than the first.

Mother Nature was threatening to really test us, but she's decided to give us a break and the weather has cooled significantly today. ?Still, it will likely be in the 90s in those canyons.

The best thing about the canyons is that each features a decent creek with year-round water at the bottom of it. ?The Swinging Bridge - at the bottom of the first canyon - hangs over a particularly nice spot where we'll be able to get the girls in up to their bellies and cool and hydrate them as long as they need.

It promises to be a good, tough ride.

But then we're into taper time! ?Meaning tapering off the training for a given (to be determined by the horse's fitness, the ride challenges, etc.) time period just prior to the test. ?The primary motivation is to benefit the horses, but it does allow for the riders to catch up on things they need to do before being gone from their lives and jobs for nearly a week. ?And there's the epoch packing that must be undertaken.

The Saturday before the ride has already been dedicated to a light jaunt through the vineyards and many hours of cleaning, organizing and loading the trailer.

I plan to take my GoPro tomorrow, I'll try to get some footage of the canyon trails and maybe a trip over the Swinging Bridge :).