“What makes a great mountain bike trail?” It’s the question at the forefront of my thoughts as I watch a team of volunteers sculpting the hillside with axes, picks, and strange-looking rakes. Levi is refining the slope of a curve with timber and soil when he responds, “That’s like asking what love is.”
Love. It is an appropriate metaphor for a day like today because there is certainly passion involved in trail building, biking, and teamwork. Two groups have come out to The Ranch to help develop what is already a considerable network of biking trails: Trails 2000 and DEVO. Trails 2000 has been serving Southwest Colorado for over twenty years. Daryl Crites and Trey Duvall are here leading the effort, and their competency is inspiring. They quickly organize DEVO’s coaches and student riders.
Working at a safe distance from each other, the high-school students chat and laugh as they chip away at the terrain. I move among them taking pictures and asking them how they feel about being here to build trail. There is enthusiasm and a sense of pride: “We ride the trails; it’s our turn to help,” Derrik says. Madeigh echoes similar sentiments, “It’s good to give back because we ride so much.” DEVO’s mission is to create lifelong cyclists, and an attitude of responsibility is a part of that. DEVO has around three-hundred children and adults in their program ranging in age from two to twenty-five. Sarah Tescher, one of DEVO’s founders and the current Director, is working to loosen a tree root when I approach her. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she speaks warmly about the expansion of DEVO from its conception in 2005 to its current size with seventeen programs and forty coaches. She is gratified to offer so many young people the opportunity to join what she sees as “a continuum of biking.” The other coaches share Sarah’s passion for community, health, alternative transportation, exploration, and the simple enjoyment of a great ride. (More at: Durangodevo.com.)
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Lance Roberts handing rocks to students working to support the trail higher up the slope. It’s a thrilling day for him; he usually maintains the biking trails alone or with just a few others. When Roberts talks about the trail system his entire being animates. With incredible attention to detail, he is dedicated to creating a network of trails that all levels of riders find rewarding. Crites shares his vision and passion. When I ask him what he thinks makes a great mountain bike trail, he says, “Each trail is different, and different to everyone. So, a great trail is one that is enjoyable to as wide of a range of skill levels as possible.” It’s all about inclusion with this man; it radiates from him. His joy in being out here is palpable. I ask what motivates his work. He smiles, “We all love trails – more and more opportunity, and it’s fun to see young generations really into it.” His peer from Trails 2000, Duvall, is also inspired by the community aspect – both in terms of contribution and connection. Duvall also adds that protecting ecosystems from damage while still allowing exploration of wild places is at the heart of Trails 2000 designs. (More at: Trails2000.org.)
So – what makes a great mountain bike trail? Kaydee and Emily hesitate, “smooth, packed flow” they agree. Flow – it’s the word that keeps coming up. “It’s like catching a wave,” adds DEVO coach Brianne Marshall. Levi’s response keeps ringing in my ears, “That’s like asking what love is.” I take a breath and look out through the trees to seams of blue sky. Around me, this stretch of mountain is becoming a clear trail and as laughter weaves it way among the activity, I add my own answer to the mix: a great mountain biking trail is made with care, vision, and pleasure.
At Wilderness Trails Ranch we not only offer a youth program but make kids so happy that they come back generation after generation.
It is not uncommon to have a family that the parents first visited when they were just a minute tall.
Do you have a Pony Express Kid? What is a Pony Express Kid? Our renowned Pony Express Youth program is specifically designed for children ages 3-5. Yes, that is correct. We cater to even to littlest of folks!
What does the Pony Express Group do every day from 9am to 4pm? What don't they do is more appropriate. Every day Monday through Friday is filled with lots of fresh air, fishing at the rainbow trout stocked ponds, hiking, bicycle races, picnics, nature awareness of land, livestock and wildlife, crafts, adventures in "The Enchanted Forest" and at the "The Fort" and of course a pony ride twice a day - so "they have their own horse too". These little people will be showing off their new horsemanship skills alongside the big kids at the Friday afternoon WTR Rodeo, a real family treat complete with rodeo clowns.
Don't wait if you have a 3-5 year old. Call now to book your week at the ranch and save big if you are booking the weeks of June 10th, June 24th or July 8th. Call the office for more details and stay tuned for upcoming information on our Saddle Tramps, Bandits and Posse youth programs. This is a limited time offer!
There is no shortage of fun to be had for kids visiting the ranch. It was a wonderful week full of all sorts of exciting adventures for our pint sized guests.
Emily & Jack mounting up for the excitement to begin...
Sisters Scout & Alli were spectacular cowgirls & even gave love to each other's horse.
Cowgirl Emily loved horseback riding on her horse Cody, and was very knowledgable about animals.
Riding is one of the biggest attractions at our ranch, because it gives the kids a chance to be real cowboys/girls while they are here.
Despite the tenderness of their years, the kids even got to participate in a cattle drive. They pushed cattle like pros.
On pioneer day the kids got to paint their faces, create headresses like Native Americans & hike out to the ranch tepee to shoot bows & arrows.
The cowkids also took part in a rodeo- where a lot of playfulness and friendly competition ensued
The Donut Relay Race was a ranch hit this week- Alli & Jack are battling it out to see who gets the donut and back on their horse first.
Scout was an expert polebender in the rodeo!
While her sister roped like a dude ranch champ!
I wish I could go back in time and come back to the ranch as a kid! They have a blast here!
Thank you to 1881 Western Photography for the amazing pictures! They really captured the week at Wilderness Trails Ranch well!
Dude Ranching isn't all cattle drives and horseback riding- every once in a while you can trade in your cowboy boots for dancing shoes!
Well, I did not think I'd meet guests that like dancing as much as I do... WRONG! We had quite the bunch this week, and quite a lot of fun! It all started Monday evening after we did our normal line dancing lesson. What is more dude ranch, or country western than Michael Jackson's "Thriller"?
Sloane, one of our guests, thought it would be fun to teach some of our gentlemen guests along with Jenni, Gary, and Rachel, our wranglers, the "Thriller" dance.
Doing their best "Thriller" pose!
Then, on Tuesday, we did an entire HOUR of ZUMBA! I was so excited to have so many male guests participate! They were all panting at the end and admitting that Zumba is, in fact, an amazing work out!
They ROCKED it!
You can't stop the dance!
Thursday night the fun continued!
Though you wouldn't think so by the look on Harrison's face...
We enjoyed you all so much, please come again!
Every year there is a staff night out, and we call it "Christmas in July." It is a time for all of the ranch folks to be off, be goofy, and have fun together. This Christmas in July we went a restaurant on Lake Vallecito owned by Gary Peach, our former chef. Everybody had drawn a name two weeks prior to be a "Secret Santa" for another staff member. Gifts could be heartfelt or fun... most of us went for fun!
For instance, Kat had Gary Cassens and I had Kani Cassens. Guests had been teasing Kani about being pregnant, one guest predicted she would have boys, and both Kat and I feel they probably need to get busy on the baby-making front, so we both went for baby items.
Kathryn has personal space issues and is always telling people to stay out of her hula hoop or she'll send out prickles like a porcupine. So she got a hula hoop, and a toy porcupine as her gift.
My favorite horses just happen to be all of the big, black draft horse mixes, so Kani & Gary got me the BEST GIFT EVER! And I WILL be wearing it!!! On the front are my three beautiful boys, and on the back...
After Pura Vida- we went to the Fiesta Days Rodeo- where our very own Ryan McRorie decided skip across the arena in his kilt...
Then we all went dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon! Rebecca was breaking it down!
Our staff knows how to have fun!
No matter what the ages of our guests are, our angler extraordinaire, Ryan McRorie, is ready to instruct them on his craft. Here, Kenzy is learning the ins and outs of a good cast!
Whether you are a beginning fisherman or a seasoned one, Ryan knows the spots for you. Ryan has fished all over the world and has been at it for over 26 years. This week he took guests to Lemon Reservoir for a fun fishing experience. So while being on the ranch is renewing and wonderful, there are many exciting outside activities that are offered as well.
The wonderful Mynda learning how to fly fish this week!
If you'd like to know more about our wonderful fishing guide you can check his website out: Heads Up Fly Fishing
When those clouds roll in over our beautiful Rocky Mountain ranch, we always know whether or not we are in for a storm- or at least a bit of thunder.
Weather dog Jade, the ranch's Australian Shepherd, does NOT enjoy storms or rain. So when the clouds roll in and the wind picks up- Jade heads for the lodge.
But she doesn't need any help from those bipedal creatures with opposable thumbs to get inside- No Way! She lets herself in...
So when storms head our way, Jade can be found curled up outside the office door, waiting for the sanctuary she finds inside- usually under somebody's desk.
Thank you Mynda for the great pictures of Jade!
Every week we take time off from trail riding on the ranch to do some skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing on the lake. Our British teens were in for some wet and wild adventures out on the lake today!
Gene was up for some fun too... At least I think that is what this look means!Anna was first up on the skis- she was a little bit nervous at first (LOL), but soon found her stride and stayed up a really long time!
Elly was the next to have a go- she tried valiantly!
Alex tried wakeboarding, and tried again...
Next came tubing! Anna and I went first, and we thought we had a good plan for going on the tube together. We lined ourselves up on the back of the boat, counted to three, and tried to sit back onto the tube together. Instead, we both sat back a bit too far, and flipped head over heels backwards into the water. I was laughing so hard I couldn't get back into the boat!
Soooo we decided going separately was a better idea! Anna held on like a champ! She was shot out of the wake more times than I can count, but had some sort of wonder woman grip on the tube!
The other Anna went with Elly on the tube- they were very inventive and even rode backwards! Not to be outdone, the boys, including our own Gary Cassens, tried going backwards... I'm pretty sure that when Gary launched out of the tube he was a foot and a half out of the water UPSIDEDOWN with his legs flailing in the air like he was doing the running man!
I think our boat driver was having a bit too much fun!
We had a lot to celebrate this week!
Judi & John celebrated their 50th birthdays AND 25th anniversary!
Nora & Robert, new to horseback riding, chose Wilderness Trails Dude Ranch to celebrate their HONEYMOON!
And Heidi & Jason celebrated their 3rd anniversary!
Congrats and Best Wishes to you all! Thank you for choosing Wilderness Trails for your family vacations! We hope to see you all again soon!
Thank you also to 1881 Western Photography for providing the amazing photos!
The guests pushed cattle like pros on the ranch this week! It was truly a joy riding with them. We had a variety of riding abilities, from veterans like Patrick and Evelyn to newbies like Robert and John- it was truly impressive to see how well they got the cows MOOving. We were all over the mountainside, riding through the meadows, and crossing over creeks- but not one cow did we lose.
It was a good time with great guests! Come back and see us again!
Thank you to 1881 Western Photography Co. for the wonderful pictures!