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Gold Country story... Long

Blue and I attempted our 2nd 50 together at the Gold
Country ride a week ago Saturday.  What adventure that
was!  He's an old hat at this stuff, and I'm trying to
catch up.  Since we are still rig-less, we caught a ride
with fellow Endurowest rider Jennifer Layman-Hixon and her
marvelous young guy Goose.  Jennifer was quite patient
with my slugging all this stuff along... loading / unloading.
I packed almost an entire bale for Blue for 2 days.  Hey,
I know how he eats.

We managed to leave on time and blast up north.  Jennifer
has a nice big truck and it tends to get going pretty well.
However, we were definately not speeding when CA Highway
Patrol pulled us over.  "Great, I thought.  Now Kathy
Ruiz and Val will catch us for sure".  We could not for
the life of us figure out what Mr. CHP was worried about.
Turns out the registration sticker on Jennifer's trailer
was gone.  Stolen.  Welcome to California!  :)  She had
the registration slip complete with the empty sticker plate
in her glove box.  The Highway Patrol confirmed via radio
and we went on our way with a "Fix it" ticket.

Val passed us while we were talking to Mr. CHP, and Kathy
Ruiz passed us when we stopped for fuel.  Gas up in the
Gold Country is a LOT cheeper than in the SF Bay Area...
and it shouldn't be.  Listen up, Congressmen and Congresswomen,
there is price fixing going on here.  We got into camp
late around 2:30 pm, but Nancy Elliot kindly saved us
a spot she couldn't get into.  So when she finally gave
up, we pulled right in.  So much for a gooseneck!  :)

We all got parked right around the same area... Kathy,
Val Christenson, Linda Cowles, Nancy and us.  I did my
interpretation of a water maiden for Blue... 3 trips
with 2 3 gallon buckets.  I'm getting old and can't carry
2 5 gallon buckets anymore.

Blue and Goose vetted right through... the vet eyed Blue
suspicously and then told me the last two horses in a row
had kicked him.  I explained that Blue wouldn't kick at
a wasp.  See how cute and sweet he is?  The vet relaxed a
bit and told me no one had called him cute and sweet for
over 20 years.  We got all A's vetting in.  Newbies...
listen up!  :)

When we got back, my friend's sister Karen was sitting in
our camping spot.  She had wandered around for a while trying
to find us.  She'd asked for Kat Myers and the interesting
thing about Ridecamp is people might "know" you, but they
don't know what you look like... or the rig you might be
in... or your horse... which wouldn't have helped anyways
since I had the horse with me.  Karen had managed to find
Lucy Trumbell, but she couldn't remember Lucy's name, or
where she'd found her or what she looked like!  :)  Ride
management came to the rescue with our campsite number.  We
had a nice chat, Karen got to meet Blue, and I got a great
invitation to Thanksgiving Dinner which I fully intend to
take her up on.  So much for not having family.

This was our first totally out of camp ride, and I found
out I'm totally unprepared.  Not enough space on my saddle
to carry everything.  I definately need full cantle / pommel
saddle bags... hint hint.  Christmas is coming.  Ride Management
was GREAT... food / water and blankets at all the checks for
the horses, 2 kinds of hay and bran with carrots and apples.
It made all the difference to us.  People food too.  People
water.  We all thought it was going to be *hot*.  86 degrees
forcast and I was afraid it would be humid.  There was LOTS
of water.

We started with the pack this time... didn't want to be left
behind after slugging along at the back of the EHSC.  I wanted
to increase our speed just a little bit... like do a 9 hour
total ride time instead of 11... pay attention, make tracks when
the trail was flat so we didn't have to push up and down hills.
We started with Kathy Ruiz and Linda Cowles, but quickly got
left behind.  Blue's not quite used to speed yet and I saw no
point in pushing him any faster... he was moving out fine.
It was misting which was perfect for the horses.  I smartly
kept my Gore-Tex jacket on figuring to tie it to my saddle
by the first trot by.  I wasn't smart enough to wear warm
clothes under it though.  It rained almost all day long.
Everything was cold and wet.  My breeches were fine until we
had to dismount the first time.  Then within a couple minutes
my saddle cover was wet and managed to soak completely through
my breeches.  And I mean COMPLETELY through.  One of my water
bottle holders came loose within 3 miles and was bouncing all
over the place.  I got to hold it until the first dismount.
Blue was moving fine, he's a great little horse and obeyed
me with just one hand on the reins.  The brush started to
close in... almost everyone I saw... horse and rider... had
some sort of cut from being stabbed along the trail.  Nick
must have passed us since we were riding with Val Christenson,
but he neglected to say hello.  Nick, if the brush gets to you,
try a smaller horse.  I managed to avoid most of the branches
by hugging Blue's neck.  14.3 is really great sometimes!  The
woman in front of me pointed out she had her Gargoyle sunglasses
on to protect her eyes.  I'd, of course, left my Gargoyles in
the truck...  next to Jennifer's Gore-Tex jacket.  :)  The
good thing is I'd brought Blue's Butt-rug... a homemade Gore-Tex
and polarfleece job I made for Magnum a few years ago.  We
rode with it out... unfortunately I'd forgotent the tail-keeper
... so it spent the whole time flopping from one side to the
other and nice people rode by and told me I was losing my butt-rug.
Oh well.  The goodnews is it worked so well at the vetchecks,
Blue didn't need one of the in-high-demand horse blankets.
He stayed toasty warm and mostly dry.

We made the trot-by at 8mph (all flat) and continued on to
the first vetcheck.  We breifly said Hello to Judy and Warpaint.
Warpaint greeted Blue as they know each other from the Death
Valley ride last year.  Blue pee'd when someone else whistled.
What a great horse.  Jennifer caught up to Val and I just
after the trot-by.  We'd already been passed by the first
of the 30 milers.

The 3 of us continued to make tracks as long as the trail
was fairly flat and not too rocky.  We'd been warned about the
"Snowy-River" hill going into the first check.  Walk it.  Steep.
This thing went up like we were climbing the Washington Memorial
in DC.  A bit steep?  It was all rock, wet from the misting rain,
and went up as steep as stairs.  Atleast that's the way I remember
it!  We immediately met a rider coming back down with her horse
and stopped right away to ask if she was OK.  All she said was
"NO!" and kept going without explination.  We kinda felt bad,
but we'd been dismissed so we continued up.  By 2/3 of the way
my left leg had given out.  It's one thing to stand out of your
saddle to go up a steep hill.  It's another to 2 point for, what?
1000+ feet straight up?  Geez.  Blue was fine.  He saw a rock he
thought was a log so he decided he needed to JUMP it going up
this hill!  All I could feel was him going straight up under me
and I stayed out of his way.  I caught Jennifer snickering at us.
Blue's a wirely little guy, but apparently strong as heck.  He
jumped that 'log' rock and continued on.  The vetcheck was a
wonderful sight!  They had water and hay and bran everywhere.
There was a bonfire to dry riders and horseblankets.  We got fed.
3 blankets appeared within seconds of our arrival, but another
horse needed the one for Blue and we were fine with our tack and
butt-rug. We lingered probably a little too long before heading
out up the rest of the montain and into lunch.

The trail got rockier so we took it fairly slowly... mostly
walking the rocky spots and trotting the flat level areas.
Lots of changing speed.  We passed the 1/4 to check plate
finally, but it took forever to get into Lunch.  We got
another glimpse of Judy and Warpaint just before they left.
I was really worried since we didn't have a crew, but
Kathy and Nancy's crew had kindly stayed for us!  What a
welcome treat that was!  It allowed us to let the horses
eat and relax while we ate and got dry next to the fire.
Water just evaporated off my breeches and jacket like steam.
By the time our hour was up blue sky was kinda peeking through
and we were mostly dry for the first time all day.  Thank you
Bill, Marta, and Robert!!!

Val's horse Haley had nicked herself on an inside hind leg so
we made sure to walk slower through the rocks.  Everytime she
hit it you could tell it hurt.  It was another thing we just
weren't prepared for.  We'd left all the vetwrap and stuff
back in camp where it did absolutely no good.  However,
Michaela Kennedy rode with us a little while and kindly
offered a roll.  Once Val wrapped Haley's cut and put one
of Goose's ankle boots over it, Haley was fine.  We hit
the road heading back to camp were really starting to enjoy
the ride.  It was sunny, we were dry, and the wide road
was too inviting.  The 3 of us cantered out while Michaela
stayed in a nice even trot.  She passed us not too far up
the trail, but we had a blast anyways.  Of course, just after
that it REALLY started raining!  Blue kept shaking his head
trying to get his ears dry.  He did a pretty good miserable
horse act.

We stoped to eat and drink again at the 44 mile point where
the first check had been.  Haley tried to eat the people
food, but we promised not to tell anyone.  Hey, there were
only 7 riders behind us anyways...

We dismounted walked down the next part because it was narrow
and steep.  The trail had cinderblocks for motorbikes.  Very
weird, but manageable.  None of us got run over.  When we
finally got to flat trail again, Blue and I were 3rd in line.
The rain made the clay slick and we decided not to risk an
injury and continued to walk in... we had plenty of time left.
Being 3rd through the rain soaked brush on the smallest horse
is the best place to be.  I kept expecting my knees to get
soaked, but Jennifer and Val had knocked all the water off
onto themselves before we ever got there!  :)

We came in just after 5pm... really looking forward to seeing
our friends and hearing their stories.  (and getting some help
with our rainsoaked camp gear).  What do we find?  NOONE!
Camp is abandoned.  EVERYONE is gone.  It was amazing.  There
were almost no rigs left.  Just as I dismounted at the trailer,
I see Kathy Ruiz's rig pulling out way down the road.  -- sigh --
However, they were kind enough to put the important stuff...
like my totally inadequate borrowed cotton horse sheet... into
the trailer to keep it all mostly dry.  Thank you!!  Later
we learned it had hailed in camp.  I'm glad we didn't get
hailed on out on the trail, though that's another good reason
to wear a helmet I guess.

We let the horses eat and drink for 1/2 hour and then went
straight down to vet out.  Blue was fine under his mostly
dry cotton sheet.  I left his wool saddleblanket on and
butt-rug until I knew he was still warm.  The vets were kind
and didn't remove the blankets... just reached under them.
No point in getting the horses wet.  We all completed fine
with A's again.  Hurray!  The completion awards are awsome.
A folding camp chair in it's own rucksack complete with
carrying strap.  Not only that, but they still had our color
choices available even though we were almost at the end
of the pack.  What great ride management!!

I swiped some abandoned oat hay for Blue since he stopped
at the camp next door on our way back to the trailer, and
we loaded as fast as we could.  I think we might have changed
into dry clothes.  I can't remember.  Seems to me I was
cold and wet until after we got home.  Lucy Trumbell dropped
by camp so I got to meet her.  She's a very nice lady... nice
of her to take the time in the rain to come back by.  She
did a great job on the 30 miler with her horse Provo.  It
was really nice to meet you in person, Lucy!

Gold Country ride management was wonderful.  I wish we could
have stayed for the food.  It was a beautiful place to camp
and hold a ride.  If it hadn't rained, most everyone would
have stayed over to enjoy the area.  We got a couple spectacular
views when the clouds cleared for a moment.  I highly recommend
this ride.  I also now hvae a new appreciation for being warm
and dry most of the time.  Thanks everyone!

:) - Kat Myers
in San Mateo, CA with Magnum the TB ex-racer
and Mr Maajistic... aka "Fire Mt. Blue".

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