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[RC] Rides of March, Reno, NV - Lucy Chaplin Trumbull

Katie Azevedo, Shrimp, Roo and I braved snowy Donner Pass
Friday to go over the Sierra to the Rides of March ride being held
in its new location close to where the National Championships
were held a few years ago at Red Rock, a little north of Reno, NV.

We didn't get caught in too much snow - although it was close, and
it was coming down in slight gritty,half-hearted flurries by the time
we arrived at ride camp.

Katie and I were bunking together and in the morning I was telling
her how I'd heard it snowing gritty snow for a short while during the
night. She opened the door and quickly slammed it again and we
both burst out laughing...

...4" of snow had fallen overnight  without us even knowing. The
pones were covered in snow and their blankies were frozen into
horse-shapes with icicles dangling off  the bottoms.

RM Tami Rougeau came round early banging on doors telling us
there'd be a 30 minute delay to the start while Jodi Harms went
out and rode the first loop to knock the snow off the ribbons.

It turned out to be beautiful riding. We were well bundled up (I
was wearing seven layers) so weren't ever really cold, although
the weather kept switching from bright sunshine to snow and back.
There were times when it was bright sunshine *and* snowing at
the same time which was a bit strange. Lots of unzipping and
rezipping minutes later going on.

We rode with Crysta Turnage and Sinatra and all three horses
paced really nicely together. We left their rump rugs on almost
the entire time, since it stayed so cold.

Despite the snow (which was the dry, fluffy kind) the footing was
about perfect and not at all slippery - sand underneath, but nice
and firm for the most part.

The horses were super-cheerful from the brisk weather, so there
was a fair amount of unexpected horse + rider separation. Falling
in snow isn't so bad, though. Ask me how I know this... <sigh>

As we set out on the last loop - going along the ridge at ~6000' -
the worst weather hit. It was like being up on Everest - blowing
snow, howling wind. The pones alternately tucked their heads
between their knees or tried to sidepass along. I did discover
that Roo can't spook when he can't see anything, so thank
heavens for small mercies.

As for us riders, we were bundled up with  hoods and wraps
so that only our eyes poked out - and those helmet-visors come
in jolly handy for blocking out sleet. You can't see the trail at all,
but we were following footprints by then anyway. :)

We had such a good time. The scenery in its fluffy white clothes
was just gorgeous - big sky views, beautiful snowy canyons with
cloud hats on the mountains.

The hardest part was trying to keep the horses hydrated. Their
water was frozen all the time. All of the water I had with me
in the trailer froze. I ended up heating people-water on the stove
and making damp, warm mashes. If they didn't gobble them up,
they froze into useless clumps within 30 minutes or so.

My trailer heater stayed on full the entire night, both nights and
didn't exactly make the inside of the housie toasty, but it certainly
kept the frozen-ness off. More hot water bottles needed.

As it turned out, despite bright sunshine, it was 25°F when we
finally pulled out of camp at 10 am this morning (we were in no
hurry, waiting for the Pass to de-ice), so who knows how cold
it was overnight. A bit of a culture shock considering it was 70°F
when we were riding last weekend.

But it was really fun. Many thanks to Tami and Jodi and all their
helpers for a great weekend and a great trail. Well worth braving
the weather for.

Between us, Katie and I got a ton of photos and video, so I'll
sort through it all and hopefully get it up later in the week.

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Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
elsietee AT foothill DOT net
Repotted english person in the Sierra foothills, CA
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