Amazing video! Thanks so much for sharing!! Gad, I felt I was there. Loved the dog leading the way and making sure you were following!!!! But those canyon walls actually made me claustrophobic. I'd watch it again with the sound on this time to hear the saddle squeeks...but don't think I could take those closing-in walls again so soon. <shiver!>
Come on out any time, there are loads of wonderful trails down there- well, all over the state actually! And I do have a spare horse...
I didn't feel claustrophobic at all- though I can get uncomfortable in a crowded elevator, for example. And the pyramid in Chichen Itza was really, really uncomfortable, I can recall that even though it's been over 30 years! Falling rocks are another good reason to wear a hard hat, although in truth they can be a hazard pretty much anywhere in the mountains, not just slot canyons. The biggest hazard associated with the slots is, don't go in one during thunderstorm season. If there has been a cloudburst say 5 miles upstream of where you are riding (or hiking) you can encounter a fatal wall of water even if skies are blue where you are.
There were 7 horses and 1 mule in our party, and none was the least bit concerned about the tight spaces.
B - Can you take an I-phone with you with a weather app to show weather radar? Could you get reception in those canyons?? After watching some of the newest uploaded private videos of the tsunami in Japan (extremely frightening because you can see the helpless crews on the boats swirling around caught in the rip tide - and the water never.stopped.coming), I'd be frantic to know there were clear skies within 100 miles before I'd venture in a slot canyon.
Believe it or not - one of my driving pair does get claustrophobic. The one time I drove him in a parade in a small town down historic main street (where the streets were very narrow and the buildings at least 2 stories high - he looked up above his blinkers and said "WTF are those??!!"" He couldn't stop looking at the tall buildings on either side of the road (his partner wasn't bothered in the least while he kept twisting his head to look upwards) and by the time the parade had exited out of old town into the newer wider part of town - that pony was into a complete mental meltdown! We couldn't get him to calm (and I had two walkers with me to help sooth him) and after a 1/2 mile I finally had to peel off down a side street and just trot the pair for 2 miles to get that one pony's brain unfrazzled. Poor thing! He would just die if I rode him in those canyons.
I suppose you could take an I phone or blackberry with weather apps...but indeed reception is spotty in that part of the world. The big thing is just checking the forecast night before/morning of and exercising appropriate caution and common sense. I have ridden a few other slot canyons, shorter and not dead-end, if I am going to go through one in summer time/t-storm season it would be in the morning before storms start building. Same with riding on exposed mountain ridges for that matter, I have twice been within a hundred yards of a lightning bolt and don't intend to see what the third time brings!
I understand what you mean about your driving horse. Oddly, this same horse I was riding is very vigilant when riding, say, on a mountain trail where there is a 'high side' that a cougar could drop down from- not alarmed, just keeps an eye and ear on that uphill side, but was perfectly comfy in those close confines, almost seemed like he had a sense of security. Now, a warmblood I used to have once had a Big Meltdown out hunting near Flagstaff, I finally figured out it was because it was his first time amongst tall pine trees, having been raised in a desert environment with scrub oak being The Tree. Same general reaction- tall thing where some predator could drop down on you. I made it a point to get him into forests that next summer and that solved that fear.
The gelding I rode Sunday thinks parades were Made For Him. The adoring crowds. The ability to admire his reflection in store windows. The option of chewing on the flag if I'm carrying it and it blows over his head. But then, mostly, he thinks he's a lap dog.
Never thought my pony might be thinking of mountain lions leaping off the early 1900's facades of that historic old town, prompting his melt-down. I thought it was just the tall buildings closing in on him. One never knows what goes on in those little pony minds.
When I was out in Arizona in February, I did a lot of walking out in the brush. Never far from my mind was the mental caution about large predators lurking about. It was hilarious fun standing out under the stars and howling along with the coyote "bandstands" at night - I can really do an awesome realistic howl --, but.... walking during the daylight hours alone, on narrow trails, I always kept my eyes doing a 360 degree sweep every third stride. I had heard it was smart to wear a shirt with big eyes printed on the back - discouraging to cougars who won't attack from the rear without the element of surprise on their side. Next time I'm out there, I'm going to have a "big eyes" jacket!
Cougars really aren't something I worry about, actually. Once in 15 years, I have had one sort of track me from above while riding- my horse made it plain that leaving quickly was desirable- but that one was really only after a deer. There is a high density of cougars in that same area- where I ride when going from the barn- four adults and two juveniles in a pretty small space due to development all around- but have heard of only one 'close call,' a cougar who jumped out in front of a mountain biker. Biker slammed on brakes, dismounted, and put bike between himself and the cat, and the cat apparently somewhat sheepishly concluded that meals on wheels wasn't really what he was after and moved on. That same summer- two summers ago- two hikers watched a cougar take down a deer, quite a rare sighting.
As I think about it, in group rides, 'other riders' tend to be the biggest hazard! But that's another thread, that we've probably done a few times by now...
Awesome video! I would probably get knocked off my horse trying to video and run into the rocks sticking out. I have only tried videoing a couple of times while riding and almost made myself seasick. Did you have a helmet cam or a handheld camera?
It's a handheld camera, one of those new little Flip video cams. I bought it last week with an upcoming trip in mind, actually, going w/my Dad to visit family in Belgium and figured a little unobtrusive camera to record him with his cousin (now in his 90s) would be a good thing.
So this was the first horseback test, I haven't gotten around to capturing still photos off the video but hope to play with that over the weekend. On the ride the day before for example I captured a herd of deer on video but I'm going to have to zoom way in w/photos to actually see them I think. Some of the videos I took do have that 'seasick' effect though!