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[RC] Big Horn 2006 - Another NOT lost story - joyce anderson

Big Horn 2006  - Joyce Anderson
I started the Big Horn this year, aiming for my 7th  BH 100 mile buckle, on an
 outstanding young mare Kathy Arnold had found for me in Pinedale, WY.  I had
planned for a steady pace on trails I know well, except for the new section around
Adelaide, which was only a few miles.  My friends Nancy Smart & Joe Selden
from Maryland, came out to crew for me again, and it is such a luxury that they are
 both advisors and support team - they are the NASCAR crew for horses - and I
thank them (again) from the bottom of my heart for trekking to Wyoming for
another adventure.  They were also incredible mentors to my friends Cherie and
Mike Borer, from Larkspur, Colorado who were tackling their 1st 50 mile ride at
the Big Horn!   Cherie and her horse ?Mr. Bigglesworth - aka Jake? had a fabulous
ride and finished the 50 in Top 10 looking like a million bucks.  Mike decided to
pull his walker ?Nick? at Hudson falls as the pace and heat this year might be too
much; but they had a great time showing how a walking horse could zoon across
the desert two tracks into Hudson Falls. The weather this year was much warmer
 than I can ever remember. Most years you need a coat at Horse Creek check
after the canyons, and twice I have been snowed on.  This year a light shirt was
enough so the horses did not have the relief of the normal cool mountain breezes of
the Big Horn high country.  There was as usual a lot of grass and the flowers
accompanied by the spectacular panorama laid out before us at almost every turn. 
 The trail was very well marked and the vet checks went smoothly.  The small
group of dedicated Big Horn managers and volunteers did a great job on the trail
this year and we made good time through the 1st 50 miles.  We headed out of
Antelope Butte for Ranger Creek and again had a good leg, completing the 8 miles
 in just under an hour and a half.  It was 5pm and I had always covered the
remaining 17 miles up the Adelaide trail, thru Boulder Basin, Shag Nasty & down
into Jack Creek in about 3 hours - so even if we cruised along at a leisurely 4
hours we would be out of jack creek by 9:45.  Since I have covered the final 25
miles of two track in 4-1/2 hours twice before in the dark, I figured that 6 hours +
would give us enough time to get to the finish at an easy pace for my young horse.
  However, as the old saying goes ?the best laid plans??  - the new stretch of trail
around the Adelaide wilderness section rode a lot longer than the actual measured
mileage.  It was the steepest and longest stretch of trail I have ever ridden and
then, after reaching the bench on top, you had more rolling climbs with sharp loose
rock which again made travel slow.  When we came off the mountain to the gravel
road above Jack Creek I saw that we had taken over 3 hours to travel just 7
miles.  I absolutely knew how much trail there was ahead of us and how quickly
you would have to travel it to make the 4am cut-off.  It took me just a tough
couple of minutes (since I love this ride and really wanted to finish) to decide that
my mare had (1) done a fabulous job!, and (2) I didn?t want to push her to get off
the mountain inside the time.  So I trotted into jack creek & vetted her out for a
rider option pull.  She had a 54 pulse & straight ?A? vet scores, was bright eyed
and wanted to follow the other horses down the trail; so did I; but this just wasn?t
going to be our year.   Tessa is one of the nicest horses I have ever ridden and I
realize how very lucky I have been to have had horses who could complete the Big
 Horn and make it look easy - her time will come with a few more miles under her
belt - this years trail was much tougher than the original trail, and the eight riders
who finished deserve a huge round of congratulations for riding well on the Big
Horn++ trail this year!!  My retired horse E.O. knows the original Big Horn trail so
well that he once trotted over 15 miles through inky blackness & I had only my
trust in him to carry me along.  He took me unerringly through every twist of the
trail and I had no clue where I was until my husband asked out of the darkness
?what took you so long.?   This year - I don?t know if I could have even finished
on E.O. given the time we came off the new section and knowing that we still had
the 12 miles of Adelaide Lakes, Boulder Basin, etc to cover before Jack Creek;
but I probably would have given it a shot since he seems to have the trail
embedded on his brain and I think he delighted in zooming thru the darkness -
completely in control of the situation, knowing there were lots of hugs and carrots
at the bottom of the mountain.  Tessa gave me a amazing ride and is the first horse
I could ride in a 4am hundred mile start without gloves - she bounces a bit to ask if
she can ?catch those horses? but she absolutely does not pull and I am here to tell
you that is a delight, after a lifetime of riding Ex racehorses that pull like crazy. 
We?ll be back next year to again tackle this amazing trail and hopefully follow the
ribbon of moonlight under a highway of stars guiding us down from the mountains
to the desert below.  Joyce Anderson, Dedicated Big Horn Fan !!

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