July 11, 2020
A couple of weekends ago I took Loa on her first big hike. I feel sorta guilty for not having taken any of the dogs on any big trips in the last year, but most of those trips weren’t really suitable for dogs. I’m doing my usual mid-summer attempt at getting into better hiking shape and I decided to take the newest doggo on a close-to-home hike on Saturday. I chose the Horse Canyon Trail (076) because it’s got a decent trail and a steady elevation gain of 2,000′ over about four miles from the mouth to the head. An early start helped to beat the heat but it started taking its toll on Loa on the return hike. At the trailhead is a sign indicating that the San Rafael Back Country Horsemen maintain the trail and they’ve surely done a great job of it. The hike started off mostly in the shade but I eventually emerged into the sunlight as both the sun and I climbed higher and the trail passed through some more open terrain.
There were a lot of relatively recent carvings in the aspen trees dating to the ’80s and ’90s. In one area I found several others that were much older, with one of them being 120 years old in a still-living tree, which I would imagine makes that tree well over 150 years old. We crossed two small streams running across the trail on the way up but Loa didn’t show much interest in getting a drink or cooling off in them.
Near the upper end of the trail it widened into what was once a road coming in from Scad Valley. Just off the trail was a huge pile of scrap lumber where a sawmill once stood.
I reached the junction with the East Mountain Trail (085) which is as far as I’d hiked on trail 076 from the east side two years ago on the way to Seeley Mountain. Loa and I rested in the shade while eating some snacks and filling up on water before retracing our steps back down the trail. This time Loa was much more eager to stop for a drink from the two streams. Near the end of the hike she would just lie down on the trail each time I’d stop for a photo, so we went off the trail a short distance so she could lie in the stream to cool off. That helped her quite a bit and she was easily able to finish the hike without any more rest breaks.