Back in the (Tevis) Saddle

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Four weeks to go and Jenn and I are back on track for training for Tevis.

While I was goofing off in South Africa, Jenn kept the mares moving with the help of a few intrepid riding friends and they covered some good miles in Napa and Montana Del Oro. ?Kinda bummed I missed getting to go on the latter ride.

We were determined to give them a good workout - stretch their fitness to the next level - on Saturday so we headed to Mt. Diablo. ?Mt. Diablo is a 20,000 acre state park in Northern California which connects to over 90,000 acres of preserved open space. ?Again, one of the reasons I love living here - so many ?miles of trail.

From the peaks of Mt. Diablo we could see the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco's skyline far distant. ?The Sacramento Delta was laid out before us and the Sierras were bumps on the horizon far to the East. ?It's a spectacular view and can be accessed by foot, bike and car as well as pony. ?Jenn took a quick?video of me and Stella against this epoch backdrop.

We staged at Mitchell Canyon, which is on the back side of the park, and set out on a route that Jenn had sketched but that we weren't sure how many miles would be involved. ?I'm still a little scattered after my trip, so I hadn't charged up my GPS to track for us - still need to add it up on a map at home. ?What we do know is that we were riding for five hours and, based on our typical mile per hour speed when training, we calculated that we did somewhere between 25 and 30 miles.

Hard miles. ?Mt. Diablo is nothing if not hilly. ?And the hills are often long and very steep. ?We went up one fire road trail that Stella just had to create her own switchbacks on, she couldn't get a purchase taking it straight. ?Brutal. ?But great training.

It was a warm day with temperatures topping out in the low 90s, but a nice breeze relieved us every once and a while. ?Importantly they run cows on Mt. Diablo, so we were able to access water when the mares really needed it. ?Note the fish that populate the troughs (in the picture) to keep the algae growth down. ?They are really beautiful and swim up to check out the horses muzzles when they drink.

Czoe and Stella tanking up

Czoe and Stella tanking up

We carried our small, collapsible buckets (they clip to the saddle) and dumped cool water all over the mares at each opportunity. ?Stella didn't even mind it when I let the water run down her neck and over her head as she drank. ?She gets practical when the going gets tough.

This week we'll hit Briones - another tough warm-weather park - and then the weekend is slated for intense hill training in Napa. ?We're buckling down!