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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Robinson to Foresthill, Foresthill to Drivers Flat

I must once again apologize regarding sentence construction and “readability” of a post….My brain isn’t working well lately. I know if I don’t get this post finished and published, the event won’t be fresh in my mind, and then the post will be really stale - so bear with me and I’ll try to do more editing in the future.

I spent Friday and Saturday pre-riding Tevis. Kathy introduced me to some local endurance riders and I had a LOT of fun. I rarely get to ride with other endurance riders apart from formal rides. It was very nice to be able to talk about endurance and share advice. Kathy did come off (horse tripped and fell on her) and injured her leg and had to ride 20 miles out in order to get to Michigan Bluff, and wait while some of us got to Foresthill and could bring the trailer to her. That was a LONG day. The cast of characters are: A*, D*, K*, J*, BOAS (she gets her own nickname, which is does stand for something, but I’m NOT going into on this blog, since I try to keep this as PG rated as I can…I may also call her “the phiffer”, which is the probably the wrong spelling of a very cool British word – usually used as a verb - that describes her to a “T”)


I learned some important lessons on Friday.

Lesson 1. Don’t break up the group when you are riding together. Ten minutes after starting to ride out of Robinson, D* and K* stopped to fix a problem and motioned for the rest of us to ride on ahead, they would catch up. We came to a split in the trail shortly after. BOAS was CERTAIN we had to go right, so we went. The other riders did not catch up with us, so we waited on the trail. Maybe they had a serious issue and went back to Robinson (which would be bad because the trailers had already left for Foresthill). We rode back to Robinson, but they weren’t there. J* decided her mule was lame and stayed back. I was (already) starting to get annoyed with BOAS and decided to double check her directions on the trail. Even though she tried her best to sabotage my direction-asking of the very knowledgeable Lucy back at Robinson, I finally got that we were suppose to take a left at the intersection. So now we are on the trail, going like bats out of hell, trying to catch D* and K*, who going like bats out of hell because they are trying to catch US because we USED to be ahead of them….I split off from A* and BOAS because I could go faster, with the intention of catching D* and K* to let them know we were behind. After an hour of hard riding, I finally rode back with A* and BOAS since I hadn’t seen any sign of the others. We continued at a reasonable pace, figuring we would catch them whenever we caught them. At Last Chance (I think?) there is a watering hole. Sitting next to it was D* and K*! K* was injured and couldn’t move well on the ground, but was still able to walk on horse back. There was still at least 20 miles to go to Foresthill, and no good way to get a trailer to pick her up until Michican bluff, 14 miles way. A*, BOAS, and I rode ahead with plans to get to Foresthill ASAP and then drive back to Michigan Bluff to pick up D*, K* and their horses. Whew! It was a long day. Counting the back and forth at the beginning of the trip, the entire trip to Foresthill took 9 hours. It probably would have taken us 7-8 hours if it hadn’t been for a certain person called BOAS….

Lesson 2. Some people don’t take a hint (or a direct order, or anything in between). BOAS insisted on tailing her horse up and down every hill, giving criticisms thinly disguised as advice, and keeping her horse’s nose in Farley’s butt for 9 hours. Farley finally took a swipe at her mare at the very end of the 9 hours. I had warned her over and over she needed to back off. When she finally did strike out, BOAS comment was “well she didn’t try very hard”. Ummm….you just provoked one of the sweetest, easy going mares I know to try and kick….” She insisted on stopping and drinking at Kaput (spelling?) Springs, even after were warned by K* and D* not to. A* and I waited up to the trail so if she fell off the cliff it wouldn’t involve us. We needed to make time so we could go back to pick up K*. The weather was cool and we weren’t pushing the horses at all. Anytime we got above a western jog I would hear her command me to slow down. Finally A* and I took matters in our own hands and set the pace. If she wanted to slow down, fine. If not, she could come with us. BOAS had come in a different trailer, so it wasn’t like she HAD to stay with us. Ever ridden with someone like this?

Lesson 3. It is true – test ALL your equipment before using it on the Tevis…The Haf pad back trim rubbed her back raw in 4 spots on the back right hand side. I loved how the pad performed otherwise, but obviously is not going to work on August 1. Karen suggested 2 ways of keeping the trim up in the comments section of the pad review post, but I don’t have enough time to test it out before the race, so the Skito will be my pad for Tevis. I might alternate my woolback pad in as well. Not sure….

I was EXHAUSTED after the ride, but still managed to drag myself out of bed for Saturday’s ride…


Saturday A* and I did Foresthill to Driver’s Flat. We managed to avoid BOAS’s request for information regarding our plans for Saturday, K* couldn’t ride because of her leg, and D* decided to move our trailer. A* and I went at a good clip (walk/trot) and finished in ~4 hours. This day was a huge confidence booster. Even after going out the day before, Farley was very forward and willing and pulsing down well. We stopped at most waterings and pulsed down to 60-64 before continuing. Farley would be 60-64 upon stopping, and by the time A*’s horse pulsed down, she would be lower 50’s, high 40’s. Good girl! We did ~10 minutes of grazing at Fransico’s.

While trotting the Cal-2 portion of the trail, Farley spooked at a rattlesnake at the side of the trail. One or two feet went to the very edge and kind of off the trail, but fortunately since we were trotting, we were past it before anything else happened.

My impressions of the trail –

Trying to describe a trail is definitely subjective, and the Tevis is no exception. Although this trail is often describe as astonishingly beautiful, I think the beauty of the Wild West rides touches my heart strings a wee more. The Tevis trails were not as narrow, treacherous, or rocky as I had imagined, according to other’s descriptions. Tevis is definitely worthy of respect and caution, but also very doable. One hundred miles is still one hundred miles and a long ways, but after seeing the trail, I’m more optimistic about finishing.

Thought of the Day

Ever had to tell someone they couldn’t ride with you, because after nine or ten hours you were contemplating something violent?


  1. Is BOAS entered in the ride? Sounds like she is not on track to finish.

    It is a beautiful trail, and during the ride, you will not see much of it except the path straight in front of you. Try to remember to look around in the High Country, and enjoy the beauty all around you.

    And most important, which you know...ride your OWN ride! You have put a lot of time, training, effort and money in to this adventure. DOn't let anyone sway you to ride different than your plan!!!

    Wish I was there this year. Maybe next year we will make it out again. Love your blog.

  2. Thanks for reading! I'm always shocked that people actually do read and enjoy it.

    She's undecided. If she does enter, like anyone else, I wish her only the best, she's just not my choice of companions. I get really worried about someone who says, when told by veterens not to stop and drink on the cliffs during Tevis, responds "I'll do whatever I feel my horse needs and if I need to drink and sponge, I will". It's irritating, because while that might be best for the welfare of the horse, it's not in the best interest of the people and horses who now have to stand still on the edge of a cliff - or not - I had to stand on the edge of a cliff going down one of the canyons and my horse kept spinning circles on the trail - not ideal. She's usually very good but was mentally frantic by the slow jog pace (she does better either trotting or walking) and having another horse up her behind. She's good in races because most of the time I can pass and for a while at a good speed, so even if she are "sandwiched" for a while, it's OK because she gets a break.

    Amen to riding my own race! I discovered that the hard way my first season. I never even agree to start with anyone because I'll just do whever start/pace etc (safely of course). I do ask politely to pass and don't push people, although I'll point out safe places to pull over if they don't seem to see them. I really try not to affect others races around me. I won't ask them to go faster or slower, if I want to go faster, I ask to pass. If I want to go slower, I go slower and let them pass (I may have an argument with my horse, but I will win!).

    Hope to see you out here some day.

  3. Also wanted to say that since I was on a conditioning ride with others, it was true I wasn't riding my own ride. The point of the ride was see the trail, learn from eachother, safety etc. I never would have stuck around and dealt with this type of situation at a ride! Ride your own ride! :)

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  5. wow.. i've run the course so i know where you were :) and yup with ultrarunning, I've done long training runs with a group and found that with the group dynamics often aint what you thought 'd be :)

    did boas finally figure it out ?!
    well done on the training ride... looks like you learned and prepped alot

    happy trails

  6. Well, i haven't contemplated anything violent, but i sure did learn to say, "We can start out together, but I may have to go on. I have to do what's best for my horse." that was after one loooooooooooooooooooooooooooong 50 mile ride that was not fun for any of us.
    Anyway, just curious: Is that picture at the top of your blog at the Death Valley ridecamp outside of Trona?

  7. Merri - yes, that picture was taken as I was walking back to camp after my final vet in at the end of Death Valley.

    I guess I'm going to have to start doing that (going on) even if it's a conditioning ride, and just make it clear up front. Except for the first turn, the trail was very well marked (thanks to the run) so I wouldn't have gotten lost.

  8. Glad it went well after your inauspicious start - and kudos for riding CA Loop as well the next day.

    Perhaps I could have warned you about BOAS, but my opinion was only based on meeting her a handful of times - I'm just glad I wasn't you Friday [g] (I spent much of the day giggling about her retort: "I've ridden the trail 2-3 times, I know which way to go, *dear*" to you when you asked for directions. ...And A*'s nervous question "Is the rest of the trail pretty well marked?" - I think he was worried you would be out there, lost, all day.

    We rode RF > FH yesterday, took it really easy so took a little less than 11 hours. That was the furthest Fergus (the TWH) and Patrick had ever gone and they both did admirably.

    After admiring the wildflowers going down from RF - they were absolutely gorgeous - we stopped at some cached ziploc bags of water we'd left the day before about six miles in, took an hour lunch break at Last Chance, got to paddle in the creek below Swinging Bridge, stopped to graze, etc... I figured I wasn't going to get to enjoy the trail much on the day, so better take advantage of our slower pace.

    BTW, we stopped briefly to drink at Kaput Springs and heard/saw a huge rattler going up the bank [squeak].

    About three minutes later, Fergus managed to step off the side of the trail going around a bush and came close to going off the side - Patrick bailed and no harm was done - but it scared the cr*p out of all of us - it has taken me many repetitions of that section of trail out of DW to get past the urgent desire to get off and walk - and after Fergus fell, I hand-walked the rest of the way to the bottom.

    The last 30 minutes or so coming into FH, we rode under the full moon which was a lovely ending to a fun and adventurous day.

  9. Lucy - it was wonderful to meet you in person. Glad to hear no harm was done even with Patrick bailing, but wow, I bet that was SCARY. Even meeting the rattler on Cal-2 wasn't really a close call like that.

    Well, since me and Kathy accidentally sent our recaps of the weekend to the ENTIRE new 100 milers list instead of eachother, you now have the full account. LOL.

    I was warned about BOAS previously, but thought in a group of 7 people, it wouldn't matter much....I was DETERMINED to get directions out of you without her interrupting though...Thanks for helping out.

  10. I'm deeply envious--because I haven't ridden ANY of the Tevis trail yet, and also because you seem to be the kind of person I like sharing trail with!

    I have been there/done that when it comes to being stuck with a riding companion. These days, I just pull the blonde card and wander away, heh heh heh.

  11. there is something to be said for having built in air-bags. lol


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