Kenny and I had good fun at the inaugural running of the Nevada multi-day Torre Creek in May. We saw rain, hail, snow-capped peaks, and gorgeous flower-accented desert trails; we sponsored a junior on an LD and had a lovely time–but we didn’t get in our 50 miler for the Decade Team Goal.* Summer whipped by with a lot of work and some play, and suddenly we were looking at an ever dwindling ride calendar quickly heading towards season’s close on November 30th. I hit on the notion of trying out Red Rock Rumble in Nevada in October as I liked the ride management and Kenny had completed his first 50 in that area previously.
* (“The Decade Team recognizes those equine and rider teams who completed at least one endurance ride (50 miles or more) each year for 10 years. This would not have to be consecutive years, and the rider must be an AERC member each of the 10 years.”).
Then one day on a ride at newly reopened fabulous local trails with my dear riding buddy N and her Tennessee Walker, N asked why I had never been up to the Redwood Rides; simple: as 6+ hours hauls up into a rural area, I deemed them an unfair task for my 22 year old truck that is reaching for the 400,000 miles stars. N has been through an incredibly tough year that, among other things, resulted in needing to replace vehicle(s) and she wondered if I might be interested in hooking up my much larger horse trailer (she hauls a Brenderup) to her 2019 Dodge Diesel and going to September 7’s Redwood Ride Cuneo Creek together.
Why Yes. Yes I was!
pulling old Orange out of the way, Kenny know what’s up/packing with weiner assistance
N and I set up a day a week ahead of time wherein she brought the truck to my house and we made sure that the hitch drop, ball, and lights were all in compatible order with my Logan BP (recommended, we did end up using a completely different hitch than either of us usually use). N, Josey-Walker, and N’s pups then came over and spent Thursday night of ride week so that we could piece our rig together in the evening and be ready to pull out at a reasonable hour on Friday morning. Again, recommended, as we still both managed to feel slightly stressed even with our provided lead time–it would have been a lot less fun to try to combine rigs AND drive 6+ hours in one day. Plus, we had this hope we might make it in time to score some of the promised corrals at a ride camp said to also have bathrooms and showers–ooo, la la!
I was eager to drive the 2019 and N was happy to be driven so I donned my chauffeur cap and proceeded to have the smoothest haul that I can remember. Everyone except Butte County is repaving their roads and there was no traffic or road construction so once we flew the coop it was just smooooth sailing 6.5 hours up to Cuneo Creek Horse Camp near Honeydew, CA. We found camp easily, were warmly greeted by ride management, and shown to what I’m calling the best camp site in the place: under a huge shade tree, with our own picnic tables, close to the water spigot and bathrooms(Showers!), a mostly level trailer spot for sleeping, gazing down a gentle slope at our steeds enthroned in lovely safe corrals.
possibly the best ride camp I’ve ever been to, with perks like corrals that don’t share fence lines
My phone camera has decided to only take videos lately so every photo that I have from the ride is a screenshot taken off of a video and I missed some of my usual quick snaps like Vet Card pics, le sigh. You’ll just have to take my word for it that Kenny got his usual 44 pulse and all A’s at vet in–and a body score of 6(buahah). Ride meeting was mercifully brief and well conducted and I made sure to apply the second coat of Hoof Armor to Kenny’s bare hooves as well as load up my vet card, drinks, and snacks for the morning.
We tried to choose a quiet-ish pocket and hit the trail with 50ish(?) other 50 milers at 7 am in glorious cool, breezy, redhead weather. I want to speak carefully here because I don’t intend criticism, merely to share my experiences; asking people ahead of time who had done the ride previously, the trail was said to be very doable on lovely winding forested trails with a few climbs. At ride meeting, the only trail described was a lot of road that has been recently redone, with new culverts covered in large rocks. Also, a bridge with dodgy planks to get carefully over. I confess by ride time I really wasn’t sure what sort of 50 miles I was actually in for.
In a word: Hills. Hills up, hills down, and then some more hills for dessert. There was a lot more road than I expected, but the footing was still all pretty pleasant; Kenny cruised nonchalantly barefoot with Hoof Armor throughout which was a true joy, especially considering the many many water crossings lying in wait for boots.
Kenny didn’t drink for most of the first 25 mile loop but that didn’t concern me as he was well tanked up, the weather was cool, and I knew he would start drinking when he needed to. He is no speed demon and I may be “always walking” as another rider apparently said of me, but this little pony boy knows how to take care of himself day after day, and you can’t put a dollar value on that in my opinion. I do walk, all of the downhills and this ride, some of the uphills too! I’ve always been willing to hoof it down while expecting my horse to carry me up, but the thing about a partnership and trying new things is that sometimes you have to shake up expectations to get ‘er done. Kenny’s self care intelligence also means that miles into endless hills, alone on trail, there is a good chance he is going to stop and turn and look at me and say “Right, Your Turn.” And I cannot blame him, not one bit.
I was also advised to remove my rump rug during this ride and I would heartily recommend to folks that they go ahead and ride their own ride on their own horse. I have seen and experienced some OhCRAP situations where a crucial rump rug really could have helped, and I am pretty liberal with my use of them, while not feeling like that is something others must do as well.
Somehow we came into the single one hour hold in 3 hours. I can’t say that we’ve ever done an LD that fast but we had good trail in the morning to make time and I ran a lot of dowhills, so there we were.
hiking in/carrot bandits at vet check/smart Ken in vet line
A couple of B’s on gut sounds and A’s on everything else had Kenny snarfling food and then resting in his corral for the hour, roll included, while I stared at the ground sort of eating for my self-allowed amount of time and then leaped into action near the end of the hold throwing one more coat of Hoof Armor on his front hooves as I had heard there was less friendly gravel after lunch (Pro tip: just DON’T put excess gluing/Amor’ing tips in your mouth, it’s hard to tell what’s new and what’s used and yes my tongue now has some Kevlar protection–but hey it’s food grade!). Kenny was having a nice nap and we had whipped through the first loop so I had planned to leave the hold a few minutes late which was good because I ended up catching a loose horse in camp and being late anyway!
Loop 2 was a real mental game. We left alone, out the same trail as the morning, and did the same 2.5 mile climb UP. Kenny generally thinks leaving alone on Loop 2 is a poor idea concocted by Humans, and leaving alone UPUPUP is really not on his list of approved activities. He went about 1.5 miles up and just stopped. No encouragement from aboard would persuade him and me dragging him by the reins on foot barely did better. Uh OH? All of his parameters were good, his butt felt loose and non crampy, but he was just serving up a big steaming plate of Nope. I know Kenny very well by this time and this can be a Morgany pony game he plays, but this seemed very final, and I got nervous. I concluded that I would hike up to the water trough that I thought I knew was ahead of us and if nothing had improved horse motivation wise, I would turn around and hike my sorry ass back down to camp and RO because Kenny said so.
Right about then, I heard voices. 2 riders merrily passed me and said they hoped that their horses might encourage Kenny. Kenny glared at me, summitted the last of the 2.5 mile hill–and proceeded to drag me down the other side. Mmmmkay. After going up and down Nope Hill, there was another– even longer and steeper. Kenny and I were happily with another rider at that part and we all took it in shifts, riding, walking, leading, following, until at last we got Up, then Down, and on to some fun winding Redwood trails.
We leap frogged with some folks in the latter part of the ride but were on our own cruising into the finish around 5 pm (cutoff 7 pm). I had drunk 6 bottles of water on the ride and still run out of water a few miles before (thank you amazing lady who handed me a cold water at the finish line as I babbled), done way more hiking than anticipated, and was just Really Effin Proud of the teamwork that Kenny and I put in to get that trail done and come across the Finish line pulsed down (well he was, I probably wasn’t). On our Completion trot out the vet asked us to trot a few times as she thought she maybe saw a completely inconsistent something unidentifiable to any leg and only on the downhill sloping gravel trot out, not on the uphill return. We were given our completion and Kenny trit-trotted his smug little self over to Josey and settled in for a nap ❤ N had RO’d Josey as she had felt the first loop was entirely enough hills for what they were prepared for, so while it wasn’t all exactly according to plan we all did have a lovely time and tucked into tri tip and all the fixings with gusto.Lest any loyal followers think that we got off entirely without vehicle shenanigans, we had a gentle 2019-truck scare when just parked safely back at home Sunday evening; N’s dogs promptly hopped on the auto locks with the keys inside the truck. Fortunately this was not my husband’s first AWCRAP rodeo and in about 10 minutes he had it unlocked. PHEW. I’ll take it, as far as vehicle scares! Kenny received a fat bite on his shoulder from Josey on the drive home, another kick in the butt for me to improve my totally lame stock dividers, but otherwise smooth sailing and a triumphant pony boy home to show off to his mares! Mission Complete.
Until next time Happy trails, whatever your goals or steed!
(official ride photos to come at some unknown future date…)