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Bak reached his 1000th Mile at Mt. Carmel XP!

YES that's right, it's taken us a little while but we made it and I'm dying to see what his medallion looks like.  I told Bak all about it after the ride but he was really just interested in more carrots, apples, grain basically any food items available, sigh.  :)

Anyway we left Salt Lake City, Fri morning a little later than I would have liked (of course) and took our time getting down to Mt. Carmel.  We took I-70 through Fish Lake National Forest and then to US Hwy 89.  The drive is really beautiful, after we passed Big Rock Candy Mountain (it's on the map really) there was a rest spot that we pulled into to take a break and lo and behold there was a sign that has a picture of a horse and rider on it and says pet exercise!  Serious, there was a Forest Service trail that was of moderate difficulty that was open and available to horses, ATVs, bikers and walkers.  It was FANTASTIC, I unloaded Bak and we went for a long walk and there was grass all over and a stream and we munched happily along the trail for about an hour, me with a sandwich in hand and Bak on grass.  I don't know how long the trail was but it seemed to go on for quite some time and the scenery was really pretty too, all those neat red rocks and stuff.

We eventually made it to base camp and it was REALLY full.  Apparently this is a national qualifiying ride, oh.  My friends had saved me a spot but I really didn't feel like trying to back all the way into it, down a driveway and around another corner and then back in between two trailers!  So I parked across the street (Hwy 89) in the "overflow" parking which was full of grass and open and level and next to a stream.  Made for many treks across the street to check in, vet in and ride meeting, etc.  Base camp is 1/4 of a mile from town, which consists of 2 motels, 2 restaurants, 2 gas stations and one golf course!  It was pretty nice, not to mention the beautiful scenery around the whole place.

I headed out with my friend, Bobbie, this is her horse's third 50 ever so we doing the "take it easy, pace well and finish in good shape" plan.  Perfect for Bak because this is his 4th - 50 this year (we pulled from the first one at 35 miles) and we're trying to increase the number of rides we attend this year and maintain a reasonable pace of about 7 to 8 hour 50s depending on the trail.  We'll work on speed later.  Anyway we started out at a nice walk and warmed up.  The first loop was 35 miles and it was rocky and sandy.  Dave Nicholson (aka the Duck) had told us to pay attention because there are cliffs and if you went off you would vaporize before you hit the bottom they are that deep!  I had some cliff nightmares before the ride, but all in all it was pretty safe if you paid attention and the trail was well marked.   

We rode most of the ride with a terrific gentleman that is 68 years old and had his knee replaced one month ago, I sure hope I'm still loving it by then.  We asked him how many times he'd completed Tevis.  He said "only five times", I about fell off my horse laughing so hard, only five times, my goal is to try to actually try a 100 miler and actually finish Tevis once.  Trying to accomplish Tevis 5 times is more than my little brain can process.  I guess my reaction made him explain that he wanted to go for 10 of them, I hope he makes it, I'm sure routing for him.  He kinda got me back later though when he told me that Bak only used three legs along one of the narrow ledges and that three legs was plenty enough not to fall off!  I was shocked to say the least having not even felt that Bak was only using three legs along that ledge the TWO times we went along it, I've decided that I don't want to think about the possible ramifications of that and am choosing to ignore it so that I can sleep at night.  I'm just passing that bit of information along in case any of you didn't know that you really only need three legs to stay on a ledge.

The trail takes you right along the Barracks, beautiful sandstone shapes and colors from red to white and everything inbetween and through some knee high sand and some slick rock.  The Duck warned us about not blowing up a tendon in it and we took it easy as the trail was less sandy later and you could really make up some time there instead of pushing too hard in the beginning between the climbing and the sand.  We circled back around to camp and had to go through a tunnel under the highway with a dead deer at the opening.  Bak doesn't notice dead animals too much anymore but the tunnel really had his attention, especially when I tried to tell him he was a good boy and it echoed!  We haven't trained in tunnels too much but he was fine.  

We made it to the vet check finally about 5 1/2 hours later.  I had asked Bobbie to stop at about 3 1/2 - 4 hrs in to let the horses graze for about 15 minutes because Bak just can't go that long without eating and I hand fed them a little bit of grain.  When we hit the water stop, it was empty, there was 80 horses in this ride, it was a big one.  We found a mud spot and Bak actually drank out of it and he HATES muddy water so I know he was quite thirsty.  The vet check was out on a point and it was incredible beautiful, words cannot descibe it, you can see the edge of Zions national park and the canyons are deep and gorgeous.  The horses got lots of water and food there, but the vet told me that Bak was the most dehydrated horse he'd seen so far that day, not good.  We stayed an extra 15 minutes just to give them some more time to eat and drink and then left.

About 15 miles to home and a couple of miles out of the check there was a stock tank and both horses drank a ton again.  Good!  We just boogied on this part.  There was a really, really steep fairly long downhill that you just have to get off and walk down and at the bottom you can see down a canyon onto part of the golf course, beautiful.  I took a whole roll of film on this ride and hope the pictures do justice to the actual scenery.  We had also seen a rainbow before the vet check and it was the most unusual I had ever seen the colors were upside down, I don't know what causes that but it was neat.  We passed at least 10 or 12 people on this part and finished in just under 8 hrs and 58th and 59th place out of 80 riders.  The horses looked great and were really happy.  The finish line was on the other side of town so we had to walk through town to get back to camp and the horses cooled down nicely.  

An hour later when I vetted Bak in for completion, I reminded the vet that this horse was the most dehydrated horse he'd seen and asked him how he was doing.  Surprisingly Bak had rehydrated quite well and was in great shape, I'm glad that the water/lytes had kicked in.  There are no vet cards or numbers at this ride, just your name, which is cool, don't have to worry about losing my vet card.  I thought the ride was hard, like Outlaw Trail type stuff but it was really a load of fun and a challenge.  This ride is a 3 day multiday but we came to do one day only and then we're riding at Hell's Kitchen Canyon next week with my sister and her mare, Lady, whose finally gained back enough weight to do her first 50 this year after suffering with strangles in January.  Bak and I will try to do a couple of days of Fort Schellbourne in June another XP ride.  If you complete all days of a XP multiday you get a really neat stuff, a vest for 3 day ones and jackets for 5 day ones, man I'd like to get one of those this year maybe by this fall.

That was it, over 1000 miles, sounds so easy but it was a bit a journey to get here and I'm really amazed that we here.  This is Bak's third year of 50s with one year of LD before that, we've struggled through his gas colics and learning that he didn't always have to have a pasture buddy with him and that we don't have to win the ride in the first loop and burn ourselves out.  I can only hope the next 1000 miles comes easier than the first and that Bak will be one of those horses in the 3000 mile section of the yearbook someday.

Valerie Newson and Bakdom (running around the pasture telling stories, or should I say "lies", to the other horses)
No. Salt Lake, Utah

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