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[RC] Malibu, part two - Nancy

Jazzi and I rode the first 5 miles or so of the start/finish that Friday evening.  It was beautiful!  The terrain was a cross between Elfin Forest and Cuyamaca; the coast and the mountains.  Jazzi was so pumped up I had to fight her to turn around and come back to camp. 


In camp a moving memorial to the late ride vet Dr. Hewitt was held.  Many funny stories were told and people were laughing so hard they were crying.  Hugie as he was known was one of a kind, he is very much missed.  My heart ached with my own loss and I was thankful Jazzi was still saddled up as I could ride some of the pain off and talk to Jerry.  I asked him to watch over us and keep us safe.


 After a dinner and the ride meeting it was time to finish packing 2 crew bags.  With the unpredictable weather I had to put just about everything in the bag for vet check 1 and 3.  If the fog rolled in it would be cold and damp requiring blankets for the horses.  If it was hot sponging supplies would be needed.  All too soon it was time to shower, set my phone alarm and get to bed.


Because of the neighbor’s request to keep the camp quiet coupled with a dead phone, I did not get up until 5:15 a.m.; 45 minutes before the start.  This sent me scrambling to feed Jazzi, myself, dress, tack up and get to the start on time.  As we headed out, Jazzi was more than a handful, dancing with small bucks added for punctuation.  She wanted to go and go fast.  We had been warned repeatedly to save our horses for later as the course was demanding.  Thankfully Jazzi soon settled down with Dancer and Suzanne setting a good pace alternately trotting and walking as the terrain dictated.


In a matter of minutes we passed the old M.A.S.H. set now marked by a rusted out jeep.  No signs of Hawkeye or Hot Lips were found.  Someone had removed the turn markers for the first hill climb.  But Suzanne had many training rides in Malibu and kept us on the correct trail. We turned left and started climbing the infamous Bulldog Hill.  Up and up the side of a mountain on a rough, hard packed fire road we went.  The road had deep gouges in places with loose rocks.  We were surrounded by late spring flowers and thick chaparral.   I saw several different kinds of sages I had never seen before with bloom spikes of shocking pink, deep purple or orange up to 3 feet in length.


The hill was never ending; it went on and on and on.  I was told this hill was a 5,000 foot long climb.  The horses were well matched and took turns leading and following.  Jazzi’s heart rate monitor worked well and she was happy to continue climbing.  I was starting to get really hungry as I had very little to eat.  Luckily Suzanne had an energy bar we shared that got me to vet check one at 8 miles from the start.


 Jazzi and Dancer pulsed in at vet check one in 3 or 4 minutes.  The criteria was set low at 56 (beats per minute) to ensure the horses were fit to continue due to the tough terrain.  Jazzi did not want water; she wanted food.  She ate and ate and ate.  Good thing as she only had a C on gut sounds, but was well hydrated and sound.  I too needed to eat and found energy bars in my crew bag with my sunglasses.  I made a tactical error when I swapped out my regular glasses for sunglasses. I should have kept my glasses in my pack with me.


The view from the vet check one was just magnificent with a deep green valley on one side and steep, craggy hills giving way the deep blue Pacific on the other.   The valley view reminded me of the hills of the north shore of Kauai, so green and lush from the generous winter rains.  However, this vet check was the origin of the huge Corral fire that marked the start of the disastrous Southern California fires of 2007.  It was easy to see why one would be drawn to this wide spot on the road to party on a warm fall night.  The scars from that fire were hardly visible, covered by new growth soon to be tinder dry in a few weeks, again to become potential fire fuel.