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[RC] DVE Day 1 - bechack

Well, here I am again.  For 7 years in a row now, we have rung in the
new year at Panamint Springs.   This place just draws you.  I can't
tell you why.  But I keep coming back.

When the Hackworth's go to Death Valley, it can be an overwhelming
undertaking.  This year there were to be 2 horses and 5 people going.
Since I am saving all of my Vacation time for this Summer and XP04, I
worked right up until the day we left.  Oh yes, Christmas also gets
in the way, what with shopping, baking goodies,  wrapping gifts,
Observing the holidays.  On the 26th, while at work the whole time, I
have delegated errands to anyone that can drive, and chores to anyone
that can't.  It is so nice when everyone does pitch in and gets
everything done that you ask.  Even if you ask 10 times in a row and
they roll their eyes and say "yes, Mom" 10 times back to you.  

The only casualties not to make it in to the rig this year were my
new Stainless Steel Thermos, and a 1/2 bag of Almonds.  Not to bad. 
Beats forgetting the saddle blanket or the bridle.  Don't laugh, have
done that in the confusion ( " but I thought YOU packed it! )

We left later than I had hoped to, but left with nerves and horses
intact.  We got on the road about noon with the 5 hour drive ahead of
us.  But at least this year, we didn't need to stop at every Wal-Mart
on the way looking for last minute necessities.  That saves about 3
hours on this trip.  Yup, we have done that before too.

We pulled in to camp after dark.  Thank goodness I know right where
we were going.  We parked right across from good friends Mike and Sue
Benson.  We had not talked to them recently and they had started to
worry that we had broken down.  We got the horses settled in and went
over to the Golf Pro Shop ( you've got to see it to believe it) where
the early birds were eating dinner.  We got checked in, said our
"Hi's" to all of our friends, Mike and Sue found us.  Just the usual
"old home week".  It's great.

We had gotten there too late to vet in, so we were up a little early
to Vet-in in the morning.  Both of the Boys looked great.  They have
both been here before and you can tell.  Ed (my horse) wanted to stay
with Marc (daughter Heather's horse) but finally settled in with
Rocky (Sue's horse)  Ed and Rocky have ridden several 100 miles
together and seem to get along well.  Help each other eat and drink
and get by spooky stuff (ok, Rocky goes by fine, Ed might follow).

So Sue and I walk around camp until we are sure that the Hot Shoes
are gone.  Then we calmly walk down the runway (I told you not to
laugh) toward Trona.  It was cold this morning, so we walked for
quite a while to warm up the ponies really well.  They were both
really good and when we asked for a little trot, they were both very
willing to stay steady and easy.  We kept that up all the way up and
around the local boarding stables where we turn right and up the
first of many canyons for the week.  The morning light on the high
rock walls is always so fascinating.  Each year it looks different.
This part of the trail is a lot of cross country single track.  Ed
was listening well and just leading or following as asked without
arguing.  It was so nice.  Then at one point, the single track cuts
left and joins in to a little road up a hill.  Ed jumped the ditch
and gave a little buck and was going for more.  That should have been
my warning sign.  I didn't listen.  

We finish up the loop back to camp easily.  The boys both tank up and
immediately begin eating.  Even though we have only gone 7 miles or
so, they remember how long it is until the next check.  

Daughter Colleen (crew) says that Heather and Marc have just left. 
This is only a 30 minute hold, so a few minutes later, Ed and Rocky
have slowed their eating, Sue and I have done "our business" and set
off for the Vet check.  Both horses vet through just fine, both
rider are fine, just hanging out a little while longer eating.  Ok,
but Ed thinks he needs to be joined at the hip to BOTH horses.  He
started getting nervous and anxious.  Heather and Marc trot off down
the trail and Ed settles in sort of with Rocky.  Our hold is up and
we hand walk them over to a spot to mount up.  I stop Ed and Sue kept
walking Rocky ahead of us.  That was a fatal error on my part.  Ed
DID NOT want to be that far away from Rocky. So as my right leg is in
mid air over the saddle, Ed gives one of his famous BUCKING shows.  I
am sure profanity crossed my lips as I went sailing into the air.  

It wouldn't have been so bad if we hadn't walked over to the road to
mount up.  The ground was as hard as asphalt.  I did a full 4 point
landing.  Butt, right hand, left elbow and back of head (helmet!)
I hit left elbow and tailbone so hard it took my breath away.  Sue
said that Ed turned toward her and Rocky with a look of "I'm in
trouble now" and wouldn't come close to her.  He went over to friend
Ken, who had no trouble catching him.  He walked over to me while I
was still writhing on the ground, unable to get up.  After a couple
of minutes lying there, I was able to get up with much help from Ken.
Ken held him while I got back on this time.  We were able to then
walk out of camp while I continued to assess the damages. One bloody
finger (right hand).  One lump on left elbow that hurts a lot, but is
moving fine, No headache or blurred vision.  Neck isn't even stiff (
not yet anyway )  Elbow seemed to hurt worse than butt at this point.
So we set off over the mountains for the next leg of trail. 

When we got to the top of the ridge, the views were as beautiful as
ever.  Very clear day.  Cool and crisp and the horses are still
feeling fresh.  Trotting until we ask them to stop.  The footing down
this next section can be very tricky, but I figure with Ed's walk, we
will be much better off if I can ride down them.  I was right.  He
was careful with each step and we got down to the bottom without
incident.  This is my least favorite part of this whole day.  There
are only 10-15 foot sections where you can trot, the rest is all
ankle biters.  This section of trail to the bottom of the valley is
close to 4 miles long before you turn north to camp and the footing
from here to camp is PERFECT.  

We finally pick up a trot. Not long into our trot we come up to Cindy
Prior riding at a very slow walk.  No distress, just slow.  We stop
to check on her.  She describes walking on foot down the nasty rock
hill and her ankle rolling over and she heard a "pop" sound.  Another
rider had helped her to get up on to the horse.  It was her left
ankle.  She had it out of the stirrup, just hanging there.  Her horse
was being SOOO good about it.  Sue and I asked if she needed Vet wrap
or Duct Tape for it, did she want us to wrap it for her so she
wouldn't have to get off, etc.  Nope, she was fine.  Would her horse
be ok if we rode off and left her?  Up.  Ok, so off we went.

The horses are glad to finally be moving out too.  Manes and tails
are flying in the breeze.  What a great day.  Much to my surprise and
amazement, Sue and I are both able to trot nearly the whole way to
the 2nd vet check.  Only a few brief short walks.  This is so
different than last year.  There was more walking than trotting last
year.  Boy how the trail seems shorter when you are moving fast. 
This is fun.

Vet 2, no problems, smooth sailing. Worried Mom checks on Heather. 
She and Marc are over an hour ahead.  No problems.  Vet Charlie said
they had looked good.  Thanks Charlie!

So off we went. We walked all the way up to Ballarat from here. This
is another 3 miles.  With the cool air, we didn't want any stiffening
muscles.  Once again, the horses turn in to the campground, where
camp has been in the past.  Once again we keep them going to where
camp really is, 8 more miles down the wide flat road to Indian Wells.
Once again, Sue and I amaze ourselves with our ability to keep
trotting.  This is in such sharp contrast to last year.  Muscle
fatigue, muscle cramps, raw spots,  the usual were just not there. 
Ed got in to a great little trot and I was able to keep the rhythm
going with little to no effort on my part.  It was incredible.  

The horses vetted through just fine.  Colleen trotted out Ed for me
since walking was getting very difficult.  Posting Was just fine! It
was just not good when the legs wanted to go in opposing directions. 
So we got the boys settled in then Sue and I each got to take showers
in our own campers.  Love even the spit shower. Sure beats helmet
head for a week.  

We got to the ride meeting then off to bed for us.  Ready for day

PS on Cindy Prior.....Husband Greg was leaving Vet2 in a little truck
to find her.  We sort of assumed she would drive the automatic truck
since it was her left ankle, or sit on the tailgate and lead horse
in.  Nope.  She rode at a walk  all the way back to camp AND GOT HER
Now that is ENDURANCE...Cindy did sit out the next 3 days.
Becky and the gang

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