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2009 Eastern High Sierra Classic
Images by Merri Melde
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Home || 30 Mile Results || 50 Mile Results

Bridgeport, CA: A Little Slice of Heaven || 2009 Eastern High Sierra Classic

2009 Eastern High Sierra Classic - Bridgeport, California - 50 miles, 30 miles

50 miles - 93 starters, 88 finishers - Complete Results

1. Suzanne Fored-Huff - Chase the Wind - 6:06
2. Ron Belknap - Sussman - 6:13
3. Kim Mileo - Tika Sherri - 6:16
4. Hal Hall - HCC Zara RR - 6:58 -   BEST CONDITION
5. Barbara Fredy - It Happens - 7:01

30 miles - 32 starters, 32 finishers! - Complete Results

1. Kathleen Davis - My Blue Balou - 4:23
2. Teri Giovanine - Flint - 4:24
3. Michele Jay-Russell - Shashi - 4:28
4. Ken Burtis - Fire Mt - 4:38
5. Candy Coffee - Mandys Turn - 4:40


Photos by Merri Melde

Bridgeport - Hoover Wilderness

EHSC - Friday

EHSC - Loop 1

EHSC - Loop 2

Friday August 15 2009

2009 Eastern High Sierra Classic

It's now twenty-four years and still counting for the Eastern High Sierra Classic endurance ride near Bridgeport, California, put on by Jackie Bumgardner. This was my 6th time to ride in it, and umpteenth time to ride the trails, but no matter how many times I see the same trails and the same scenery, I'm never not amazed. It still ranks as one of the most beautiful mountain rides I've done. Every year it's like seeing it all over again for the first time and I say the same thing all day long: WOW.

It's not an easy ride: there's altitude, rocks, bogs, creek crossings, steep trails to deal with. You better bring a fit horse, and you'd better know how to take care of him.

This year Jackie gave me her mare Fire Mt Odyssey to ride. I rode for Jackie for several years so I knew Odyssey and I'd ridden her quite a lot, though on only one endurance ride. She's a Princess - she'd love to come live inside your house with you, be scratched and rubbed all over all the time, have a few minions fanning her to keep the flies off... but that soft outer veneer covers one tough horse. I looked up her record: over 3600 miles over 6 seasons (with 2 years off for having a baby in there), and that includes completing Tevis, her only 100 miler. That's almost as many miles as I have. Then there's the single pull in 74 starts: that was with me! In 2003 we were pulled for a lameness. So, besides the incessant pressure I feel being responsible for someone else's horse (which is every ride, since I don't have my own endurance horse), there was the added pressure of not ruining Odyssey's record any more than I already did!

There's a rider limit of 130 on this ride, and Ridecamp - the pasture Jackie leases for her horses from the Hunewill Ranch - was packed to the gills. By Friday night, rigs coming in at the last minute were being squeezed into the last available spots of grass.

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Thursday August 13 2009

Bridgeport, California: A Little Slice of Heaven

I'm not just saying that because I worked here for 9 summers. I'm not just saying that because I've ridden, packed horses, hiked, climbed peaks, camped, hunted birds, tracked bears, built trails here. I'm not just saying that because for many summers, Stormy was a wrangler's horse on the Hunewill Guest Ranch.

I make the claim because it is one of most beautiful places in the US, despite the throngs of people who come here in the summers. If you like to hunt, fish, ride, camp, just breathe the outdoors (well - unless there's a fire within a couple hundred miles because sometimes the smoke blows here and sits in this valley), this is the place to do it.

It's also the home of one of the most beautiful endurance rides in the US. Jackie Bumgardner's been putting on the Eastern High Sierra Classic for many years now... (15 years or so). I've been lucky enough to ride it 5 times, and I'm hoping there's a horse for me again this year.

I came early to camp in the forest, to breathe and feel and hear and see my old stomping grounds. Today I hiked up to Barney Lake, one of the most popular hikes up past Twin Lakes, an easy 8 mile round trip. I remembered every twist in the trail, every rock step we put in on the trail crew, every bird call (stellar's jays, Clark's nutcrackers, red-tailed hawks, red-breasted nuthatches - and others I could never quite identify). I hugged a Jeffrey pine (stick your nose in the grooves of the bark, and you'll smell vanilla). I acknowledged Kettle Peak and the Nugget (climbed both of those in my trails days) hovering over Barney Lake at the far end. I nodded my head at the Gods of the Hoover, keeping an eye on the wilderness. The Raven got his picture taken and splashed in the lake.

Ridecamp is already starting to fill up with rigs and horses in Jackie's pasture. I'll get to see a bunch of old friends, including Jackie's retired endurance horses Ross and Zayante - my pal Zayante who I've done a few endurance miles on over the years. (715 miles, to be exact).

The weather couldn't be better for the ride on Saturday - 50* at night, low 70's during the day - and no chance of thunderstorms. : )

Merri