It’s a new day in Ouray, horseback rides lead to a hot springs soak


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North America » United States » Colorado » Ouray
June 30th 2008
Published: July 27th 2008
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After two days of jostling around on the four-wheel drive trails near Ouray, it’s time for another kind of muscle challenging activity - horseback riding. It seems odd to be paying the fee and signing waivers on the side of Highway 550. What if the horsewoman in the pickup truck drives away with our money? But, she doesn’t. Instead, she tells us to turn onto CR-14 for the winding drive back into the hills to the national forest access.

The horses are chewing grass, patiently waiting, at the end of the road. Soon, more clients arrive plus another trailer full of horses. I make friends with my horse, Pedro, hoping he won’t take advantage of a newbie.

As the group starts out, I manage to line up behind the trail boss, Sherry. She offers advice about riding horses plus keeps an eye on me, knowing that I’m inexperienced.

The trail takes us along a road with a view into the valley then travels through the forest. Cindy’s horse, which is right behind me, has definite ideas about horse hierarchy. When the road broadens, Sherry invites riders to ride at their own pace. Alan tries to catch up with me but Cindy’s horse won’t let any of the other horses pass by. “I was before you. Keep your place in line,” the horse seems to say.

Later, we turn onto a path shared with hikers. Lupines, poppies and wild roses bloom purple, yellow and pink beside the trail. So far, I’m holding my own with Pedro.

Soon, we travel downhill to a creek crossing where the horses stop for a drink. Then, they trot up the creek bank. Dodging low-hanging tree branches isn’t easy but I manage to hang on.

After about an hour, our group stops in a clearing to rest the horses. And, our muscles! From here, the half-day riders will continue into the mountains. Those of us on the short ride (Cindy, David, Makenna, Alan and me) will ride back the way we came with Sherry.

The return ride is more challenging. With my thigh muscles losing strength, Pedro senses that he’s in charge. Although I have problems with my feet staying in the stirrups and sitting straight in the saddle, I manage to make it back to the horse trailers without any mishaps.

As we return our horses, Alan turns to me and says, “Wouldn’t a three or four-day horseback tour be fun?

My aching muscles scream, “no, no, no.”

Thanking Sherry for a great ride, the women vote for a soak in the Ouray Hot Springs while the men hurry to Gold Belt Bar and Grill for male bonding that includes jeep talk, lunch and beer. After a muscle soothing dip in the springs, we catch up with the guys who are still sipping and talking at the restaurant. We opt for the frozen margaritas and turkey avocado sandwiches.

By now, the busy days in Ouray are catching up with us so it’s time for a nap. When we meet for dinner, none of us are really hungry. Alan asks, "What about ice cream for supper? Yes! A quick walk across Main Street and we're enjoying sundaes, milkshakes or scoops of "rocky road" at Backstreet Bagel and Deli. What a way to end our stay in Ouray.



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