ridecamp@endurance.net: [endurance] Death Valley Encounter

[endurance] Death Valley Encounter

WarholNW (WarholNW@ccmail.apldbio.com)
Tue, 02 Jan 96 10:33:25 PDT

We returned last night from the 10th annual Death Valley 200 mile
multi-day ride. It was our third trip down there, and my first
attempt at riding it. My plan was to ride 3 days on my new horse
Shatta, and to try and get him through the multi-day format better
than he performed in Las Vegas last month. (he would not eat ANYTHING
on that trip, and ran out of gas in the middle of day 2) My wife Judy
left Warpaint the Wonder Appaloosa home with a sore patellar
(spelling?) ligament, so she borrowed a Mustang named Hawk from Donna
Synder Smith. I advertised for a crew on the internet, and Pat Gay
from the Davis area volunteered. THANK YOU PAT! I hope someday
someone else gets the chance to have Pat crew for them. She is an
experienced endurance rider, and like most, would rather ride than
crew. Jim Mitchel (another internet member) will post the official
results on line.

Day one began in Paniment Springs at 3000 feet and ended up at Lee's
Flat, at about 6800 feet. The ride consisted of riding through about
20 miles of snow that was around a foot deep. My horse had never seen
snow! It only took him a minute or so, then we were blasting through
it. I trotted along for miles with Judith Ogus and Tam- what fun. The
scenery was unbelievable- there is nothing like the high desert in the
winter. The ride had a scary moment when South West region rider Lindi
Grant (very experienced, thousands of miles) took a bad fall in a wash
when the brand new horse she was riding tripped and went down. Three
time world champion Becky Hart stopped and took care of Lindi, who had
a slight concussion. (she cracked her helmet) The horse cut it's
knee badly, but was not seriously hurt. Lindi got a ride back to
camp, and was checked out. She was fine, just shaken up. The ride was
won by Dave Rabe from Carson City, Nevada. I had a great day, because
my horse was eating! I go to the halfway lunch stop, and hand fed him
some wheat hay. He ate it, and began eating more. I spent 2 hours
feeding him, and he ate an entire flake of hay! I finished with an
incredibly strong horse, and could not have been happier. Judy
finished on Hawk just behind me, her plan to ride day one slow, then
day three fast was right on track.

Day two started, but we had to retrace the route back over the day one
route because of the snow. The water trucks could not make it over
the mountains on the normal route. I am not sure who officially
placed first, because the first two horses to finish were not allowed
to officially place (they were both off quite a bit) I had an eventful
ride! We were just having a ball until mile 13 or so. We had just
finished trotting down a 5 mile sandwash with perfect footing, when we
stopped to walk over some rocks. My horse went down and rolled! I
stepped off, and watched him roll on my saddle. He got up, and I
began wondering what in the world was wrong. I led him a while, and he
seemed perfectly fine. Great gut sounds, pulse 42, not dehydrated at
all, he was pulling me down the trail. I tried to get back on, but
found another problem. I use those wonderful wide aluminum stirrups
from Performance products. When he rolled, he crushed my right one
flat as a pancake! I started walking, and sent my riding partner for
a truck. We got to the vet check, and had him checked out. The "Duck"
(Dave Nicholson) looked at him and said he seems fine. I pulled him
just in case, and also since I had given him a trailer ride of about 7
miles. Lindi Grant was showing her spunk when she went out on the
second new horse she brought and finished way back at the end. She was
too sore to start day three, however.

Day three started out at Furnace Creek and did a new loop up into the
hills behind the town that was a real hit with the riders. The ride
then goes along a paved highway for a few miles, then you turn left on
a dirt road and simply ride 35 miles down the road. One road, no
markings, no turns, just 35 miles down the middle of Death Valley.
That was the longest road I have ever been down in my life. It was
very warm, and you would just trot and trot and trot and trot and trot
and..... The vet check at mile 30 was a welcome site. My horse was
doing great- eating and drinking up a storm. Lots of energy! I was
so happy, since he seems to have figured out he has to eat to do this
stuff. The vet said he looked a bit "notchy", but I could continue.
We left trotting, and came across a historical monument marker in the
middle of nowhere. Shatta saw it and spooked a bit, and twisted his
right front leg a little when he spun around. He walked over and
sniffed it, and satisfied, we went on. But he was definitely off. I
hopped off and started walking, and we walked in the last 8 miles or
so just to be safe. We got a completion, but I was not even
considering starting the last and toughest day. Judy and Mustang Hawk
blasted to a seventh place finish. He is one tough little horse! He
kept trying to stop and eat the nasty, yucky scrub brush out there.
That's what he used to eat when he was a wild horse! Dave Rabe won
the ride again, on another horse this time. There was a 100 % finish
rate this day. I rode a while with the legendary Trilby Peterson- she
has 40,000 miles now. That's a lot of zeros. Fellow Internet buddy
Jim Mitchel finished as well.

I cant comment much on day four, since I did not ride it. It is the
best ride of the week, but the longest and hardest. Once again, Dave
Rabe won. There were eight horses pulled, more then the entire ride so
far. We drove the 4 hours or so from the start to the end of the
ride, then attended the nice awards dinner at a local restaurant in
Ridgecrest. There were nice awards, and as usual Jim Bumgardner was
his jolly self. There were two international riders attending- Mick
from Australia, and a young woman from Germany. The both went home
dreaming about rocks. At least two people had their trucks blow up
during the week, and one of them was Dean Jackson. Death Valley is
tough on vehicles. You would not believe some of the climbs! Jim made
a funny joke about Trilby having more miles than a lot of these diesel
trucks! Becky Hart had to buy two new tires for her trailer as well.

This ride takes a lot of effort to do, but is worth it. What a great
way to spend a week in the winter. I get the dope award as well for
tearing the luggage rack off the top of my camper in the "low
clearance" awning in the Death Valley gas station. I was very happy
with my horses performance, and am looking forward to the rest of the
year. Now if I could just get him to pee on the trail!

Nick Warhol