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Gotta go!

Well we hemmed and hawed about going to the ride - the 3 day East Mojave Scenic - gorgeous high desert country on the eastern border of California, about an hour out of Las Vegas. The forecast was rain, then snow, wind, cold... we all decided to bag it. (It would have been Rusty and his 2 horses traveling with John and I, and Brian and Darla - who would get a ride in and then head back to Canada. )

So we went to the Friday night ballet instead. Kevin got us passes, and we went out to dinner and then watched a fantastic production of Romeo and Juliet. Really lovely. Congratulating ourselves on a good decision to stay home, do the ballet, save some money.

Saturday morning I woke pretty early, checked my email, and checked the weather forecast (for the millionth time) and - it looked better, Sunday was calling for high of 50 and mostly sunny. hmmmm....... Gotta Go!

John and I pulled into camp just after sunset, Rusty and Brian and Darla decided they'd stick with the first decision, Rusty had rescheduled his yoga classes, and Brian still had his eye on the traveling weather forecast, which still wasn't the greatest with another storm rolling in.

Other than tales of gales and a brief snowstorm at camp last night, everybody here was in great spirits - it was a cold, but beautiful sunny ride with fresh skiff of snow on the brush and the joshua trees had a couple inches of snow on them. (they're not really 'trees' but but a large plant in the yucca family - Yucca brevifolia - which can get 10 - 15 ft tall (maybe taller) and makes a very ghostly forest.)

We're parked right next to Steve and Cindy Bradley, and Steve is graciously sharing his internet (and generator at the moment) with us. Jim and Clydea are right next to us also, great to have the good friends in the sport. I saw a few other familiar faces in the dark at the ride meeting - lots of 'XP' folks that we haven't seen in a long time (since we haven't been traveling to XP rides in a long time!). Should be a nice day tomorrow. I'm ready :)


Day 2 - Spectacular!

Well we did it, and it was totally worth the drive and hassle of packing (quickly) to get here. We rode from base camp up to the most amazingly beautiful canyon - with a wild variety of flora - and a floor of fresh snow. Agave, cactus (barrel, prickly pear, cholla ... you name it), joshua trees, grease wood, iron wood, all sorts of small 'bushes' that I couldn't identify. At the highest points we got into juniper and even pinion pine. Windy single track trail... beautiful. It was a long day and we were both exhausted at the end. 55 miles, and a lot of climbing - up to the canyon in the morning, and then back up and over Cima dome after lunch. More snow, and some spectacular joshua trees (at least 25 feet high, I'm sure!). Tons of downhill trotting. Excellent footing, though there was a lot of deep sand in stretches - tho the sand was much firmer after the recent moisture. But the horses did well. We finished 14th and 15th out of 60 starters. Christoph Stork finished first, Crockett Dumas was 2nd and BC (I don't know the names of their horses). Jim and Clydea were 4th and 6th, and I guess there was a pretty good race coming in:)

Clydea and I are both going out again tomorrow. Jim had enough with the 2 days, and John and Mac were both tired enough at the end of the day that they're going to save their energy for the next Valley of the Sun ride which is in Scottsdale in 2 weeks. Jaziret felt pretty good all day, I think he's up for another.

Steve's internet isn't on right now and I'm ready to be horizontal... will send this out in the morning.

Rain in the forecast for tomorrow - we're hoping it holds off 'till after the ride!


Day 3 - Tired and Happy!

Another awesome ride, I'm tired and happy :) Clydea and I rode up front together all day, along with Christoph and Crockett. I don't think there were a lot of riders starting - it was a pretty scary weather forecast, and some folks were done after 2 days, and some had to get back and go to work. It was a very mellow start, no speed demons in this pack.

We trotted up the road for several miles heading east and then turned back up into the canyon. Spectacular scenery! Really - this is a very very scenic ride. Lots of single track through the canyon, a few burro trails that were just wide enough for the horses. A coating of snow over everything. My thought going through that canyon was that this alone was worth the drive! We rode back up into the juniper and pinyon pine till we joined up with yesterdays canyon trail. Today tho we took off to the east after dropping back down. And again we rode up, and up, and up - until we got to just about the highest point around - we could see into Nevada where the casinos dotted the border, across the valley to the little town of Searchlight. Crockett was full of tales of the early days of endurance - I guess there used to be a ride out of Searchlight back in the late 70's - he had a good Bill Stuckey story - lots of endurance history there. Somebody should sit down with him some day and record it all.

So we're up on top, windy but not too bad, and it was just about perfect. And you know when it's that good, it will probably change. The forecast had been calling for rain after 10am. Sure enough at about 10:05 we started feeling some stinging snow/hail. The wind was pretty strong out of the south/southeast, a straight on headwind, and it was getting hard to see. But we were just coming down off the highest point, and had started riding down some of the washes where the wind wasn't so strong. Wild burro tracks in the dirt. We could see the storm clouds building and rolling as the storm that was blowing in from the west arrived - it was spectacular. I stayed plenty warm though - lots of layers, and we picked up the pace after the climb, so I actually got hot. It was snowing pretty good when we got to the vet check. A 30 minute hold - too cold and windy for anything longer - time for the horses to eat, for us to grab sandwiches and drinks, and then head back to camp. All four horses were really well matched - taking turns leading, and the footing was perfect. Dirt/sand roads, firm washes, gradual rolling elevation changes with a generally downhill trend. Wind and snow, but when we turned back to the north we had a good tail wind, and the snow stopped and the sun even broke through a little.

We kept up a good pace all the way in - perfect footing, cool temps, good company. It was a blast. Crockett and Christoph tied for first, Clydea and I tied for second. (where has chivalry gone! :) I got Jaziret fed and cleaned up and showed for BC, he had a good day today and I was thrilled with him - he'll be 18 this year, and feels better than ever. I settled into the LQ as the storm blew in full force - rain and wind. It's still raining and blowing, and riders are still coming in. I'm glad I rode fast today :)