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Big Horn 100 - Shell, Wyoming

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2006 Steph's Story || 2006 Joyce Anderson's Story || 2006 Dr Dave Brown's Story || 2003 Tom Noll's Story

2010 Stories:
Bighorn Stories - Cindy Collins || Bighorn: The Most Unpredictable Ride of Them All - Kevin Myers
Bighorn Crew Story - Carrie Thornburn || Ronnie's Report,Big Horn 100, 2010 - Ronnie Eden
An Outlaw Rides the Big Horn Trail - Tom Noll & Frank || Big Horn 100 2010-And Beyond - by Lucky 6 Nellie(with help from Marirose)
Another Big Horn Crew Perspective - Dan Ward
Darlene & Lumpy do the Big Horn 100, 2010. Our Epic Adventure, Part I - Darlene Anderson
Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part II - Darlene Anderson
Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part III - Darlene Anderson
Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part III, the Final Installment! - Darlene Anderson

Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part III - Darlene Anderson

July 17, 2010

After having a good breakfast of Big Horn Wheaties, Shagnasty yogurt and a bottle of water, I went outside to saddle up Lumpy. It was still way early, like 3:15 in the morning. The Boys, however, were anticipating us with bright expectant eyes. Max made an interesting observation right then. He said you could tell this was a camp full of 100 milers because there wasn't this tension filled atmosphere that we see at most rides, where horses start whinnying the moment a person stirs. There was an erie calm in the dark of the early morning. We turned on the trailer lights (yay for modern technology!) and pulled out the gear we had carefully prepared the day before. I could see a little red flasher blinking away off in the distance, the direction that the ride started. Lumpy was calm and collected, standing quietly when I got up on him. This is a different Lumpy than can start some rides, where he makes Terry do a one rein stop with his nose at his shoulder for a minute before he can even put a foot in his stirrup. I settled in my saddle...I love my saddle and it has never been more comfortable and secure than it felt at that moment. Riders would trot by us, warming up their horses, headlamps lit up bouncing along. There were some glowsticks cracked as well. I joked with Max about us needing our night time helmets. He scoffed at me for that. The calm that was fallen over camp as we saddled our ponies was replaced by the anticipatory tension that is present at the start of most rides. There was a mule braying pitifully beside his trailer. His pal was saddled up to carry Marirose Six through the ride that day. Max watches that particular mule very closely because she had won and taken the best condition at this ride in a previous year. Riding with Max can be like riding with a junior rider at times. He is acutely aware of any and all mules on the endurance circuit and if one is at a ride he's at, he's well aware of where that mule is in the pack and he seems to always be surmising if he can catch said mule or not. He had no aspirations of catching the one and only Lucky Six Nellie, ridden by Marirose Six on this day. The ride management gave us a controlled start, bringing us at a nice walk for about 3/4 of a mile down the road to the turn into the desert and on our way. As soon as they turned us loose, I hear this voice screeching, "Who has that light on, turn that light off!!" It sounded eerily like the same cranky voice going off about the music the night before! She had her horse going sideways in front of me, which Lumpy wasn't liking at all. I barked at her, I admit I did..."Hey, try going forward and quit looking backwards, your horse will be just fine!" I tried to say it nicely, honest I did! The horses were all moving forward nicely except for this one. This gal was just having a "fitlet" about someone having their headlamp on. I know this is a polarizing subject, but people with their headlamps on honestly do not bother me and my horse just wanted to go forward. I checked for Max, who was right at Lumpy's right flank. I urged him to get in front and just set a pace, but he informed me that he had his goggles on & couldn't see a damn thing! Ok then...I can do this! I set Lumpy in what must have been about a 7 mph trot. I couldn't tell because it was dark & we were just going from flasher to flasher. We were in a cluster of horses, but both Lumpy & Junior were trotting along calmly, happy to do whatever we asked. Lumpy was in his bit (S hackamore really), but not pulling on me, not tossing his head and not demanding I let him drive, like I've seen him do with Terry from time to time. The trail was marked just beautifully at this point, a whole 3 miles into the ride! A good omen as far as I was concerned! We got passed by a few riders, Marirose Six & Nellie, among them. Max conceded to riding the 2nd place mule with grace at this point. Soon it was him and I out there trotting softly over the desert, which strongly resembled the desert in and around Mountain Home, ID, where I had grown up racing around the deserts on my ponies. One noticeable exception to the landscape was that there aren't any badger holes! The badgers must prefer Idaho winters to Wyoming winters and I think I can relate to that a little! Soon we heard a familiar voice behind us and Max was happy to see that Tom Noll and Frank had come in behind us. Frank was in fine form, with his head high in the air, sniffing to see how many more horses he had to pass before he could be sure he was on his was on his way to a 2nd Big Horn win. I think that Frank and Tom had differing opinions of how this day would end for them, but at this point, Frank was pretty sure he was here to win and show the world how an old 20 something horse can get this job done with flair. He never looked much different than that to me all day long. Frank is a handful of a horse with a clear disdain for anything named "bit" or "hackamore". He has his own ideas of how a ride should be done and he's had the privilege of having a dad who has indulged him for a long time. It is a marriage that seems to work. It was a cool thing to get to share the trail with a horse who started his 100 mile career on this trail and would be finishing his 100 mile career on the same trail. I don't think there was ever any question as to whether Frank would finish or not. That's a cool thing from a rider's perspective. I really admire that horse's tenacity, he's an enigma.

Soon enough we were emerging from a moonlike desert landscape through several creek crossings, which were refreshing in what was promising to be a warm day down there. We sponged the Boys and let them eat a bite or 3 of grass, and let them move on. Neither horse, nor mule had to be urged along. It was if they too had waited all year for this moment and it was breathtaking. Lumpy had to have been channeling his friend, Nero, left at home, because he was such a delight to me, giving me confidence that he was on his A Game and would not let me down on this day. We cleared the last creek crossing down on the flats and hit a really nice jeep road that came alongside a man made trout pond at what appeared to be one of those fancy Wyoming "ranches" where people with lots more money than me, pay a ton to come and catch a Wyoming trout and go hunt deer and elk, living the Wyoming life for a week. That gave Max and I a chuckle for quite awhile. We turned away from the ranch, and then saw our head vet and the RM's daughter, conducting a trot by of sorts. We were about 6 or 7 miles into the ride and the first of MANY climbs was about to commence for us! Lumpy took the right turn and hit a stride that made me breathless with delight. I LOVE THIS HORSE and I'M DOING THE BIG HORN ENDURANCE RIDE!! Max just laughed at me, knowingly. I think he only brought me along for some comic relief. By this time, Tom and Frank had dropped back a bit. I know that Tom knew what was in front of us and wanted to maximize on Frank's strengths. Lumpy and Junior hit about a 6 mph jog going up this long hill and even dropped to a walk when the going got steep and rocky. It was in one of those places where we had swung off our ponies to do a downhill on foot that we were passed by a contingent of Really Bad Girls, being led by the indomitable Ona Lawrence on her Fabulous Fin horse. Moods were light and we exchanged pleasantries with Baddest Girls, Ona, Pat Murray, Lois Fox and Layne Simmons. Their horses looked fresh and happy. The trip trapped on up the hill, soon disappearing from view. Junior was unconcerned, so Lumpy decided it wasn't such a big deal either, which was a relief to me! Oh wow, the crest of this first climb brought a view of the valley and the trout pond we had just passed through! I was speechless, which had to have been a relief to Max, so soon in our day. One of the many photo ops that I took. I had to comment that my camera was never going to fully appreciate the vistas I took in that day. It was gosh danged gorgeous an here I was on a fine horse, in fine company, on a really fine day for riding! Who could ask for better? The first 55 miler caught us on this climb an stuck with us for awhile. She was a local, who only does a ride or two a year. She was riding a very nice looking Morab mare who brought memories of my FeatherB to mind. My tough little mare who could. Our trail markings were plentiful, the grass even more so and the views were to die for. A late spring did wonders for our ride. Every time our ponies slowed from a jog to a walk, their heads were in the grass, taking in as much as they could. I was really glad I had decided to start Lumpy in his hackamore, rather than his bit. It made him happy. The trail went up up up, rolling along nicely. The Boys didn't care. Soon, our GPS's read 18 miles (hmmm, VC one NOT at 16 miles!) and we decided that even though we weren't at a water spot, we would give the Boys a spot of electrolytes. This threw them off their grass eating for all of a half mile or so, when Junior couldn't stand it any longer and began eating again. Lumpy followed suit, glaring at me balefully, for ruining his morning snack time. We crested another hill and headed down into a beautiful little valley that had flowers all over and a nice spring flowing through it. Lumpy drank like crazy! Happy me!! Junior even wetted his lips, disregarding that his general rule is to not drink for 37 miles. Both ate some of the lush grass and off we went. We momentarily caught those Bad Girls and watched them trot off again. Tom and Frank soon caught up with us again and we shared a few more good miles together. Two guys both named, Bill, also caught up and we rode together for quite awhile. One Bill had mules so he and Max had a few things to chat about. The other Bill boarded his horse at Kevin & Rusty's place in Scottsdale. It was nice getting to meet new people and compare notes on life. We went through 3 HUGE canyons, down on foot, which Lumpy loved, and walking up the other side. On the upside of one of these canyons, we again caught the BG's, with Layne bringing up the rear. She was on her feet, helping out her horse by tailing up the hill. Max yelled at her to watch that stuff when riding with Bad Girls, cause they tend to take off at the trot when you're at your most vulnerable. No sooner than the words were out of his mouth, than they did just that! We nearly fell off our horses in something akin to fear and amazement, while watching Layne bobbing along behind her horse, arm flailing, legs taking these enormous strides, which Max said could spell the beginning of the end for a tailer...to me she looked like a pinwheel caught in her horse's tail. If she had let go she would have done a colossal flying face plant! But no, the lead horse slowed to a walk near the top and Layne was able to recover herself gracefully. Score one for Layne! All Max could say was, "Told ya to watch for those Bad Girls!". We didn't see the BG's again til our first VC at 28 miles. Yup, nearly 30 miles (and could have been with the margin of error that can be accounted for in our wrist worn GPS's). The boy had had a nice lope on a long and windy road, with the Two Bills coming along with us, and then one last climb into our VC. The Boys came in down to pulse criteria. According to my heart rate monitor, Lumpy was at 60 coming in and was at a 48 by the time we got to the vet. Yayy!! There was our crew, all smiles, outfitted with coolers and wet oats for the Boys. They took over and for the second time in my life (The first was at the Arabian Nights 100 mile Ride in '05, riding Sue, who belongs to Ron Sproat) I got totally pampered in a vet check. Patty took over Lumpy, taking off his boot and washing them, hand feeding the Boy and just taking really good care of him! Lisa had sandwiches ready, filled our water bottles, and kept us hydrated while there. Kendall? She had the special pleasure of handling Junior in a vet check. Junior was on his A Game though and didn't really put Kendall through too much trauma. I figured he was saving himself for later so he could catch Kendall in a weak moment. It never happened!

We had an hour hold and when it was finished we got up on the Boys and left the VC like there was a fire under our tails. Lumpy loves this and leaped out there and just ate up the trail for a good mile with Junior matching him stride for stride. I cannot properly articulate how good it feels to ride a horse who is as eager as I am to attack the trail and see what's around the next bend! The Boys settled into a nice 8.5 mph trot and just ate up the trail for several miles. Our crew was waiting at the top of one of the terrific climbs and took some really nice pictures of us coming up out of the valley and heading down into the next one. It was so cool to get some hoorahs from them as we went by. I'M DOING THE BIG HORN RIDE!! That's all I could keep telling myself, over and over. We did many miles of downhill on our feet, with our Boys jogging quietly at our sides, then Max would tail up the next incline and Lumpy would implore me to do the same. Sorry Dude, I do the downhill, you do the uphill. He wasn't impressed by my logic, but I let him stop and eat frequently so he didn't hold it against me. We came to the top of this particularly huge hill and Max pointed down to the bottom, "See those ski runs down there, that's our next vet check," What? Already? Wow...it was wayyyyy down there though and still took quite awhile to get there. I will never forget the amount of wildflowers on this ride. They were everywhere and they were beautiful. Some clouds were rolling around and as we came into our 2nd VC, it began to rain a little. Patty asked us if we had gotten rained on, "Nope!" we said happily. Well, our luck was through, it rained through most of the VC and lightened up as we left. There had been a terrific little thunder storm that had passed through before we got there though and the girls assured us we might get wet, so they would get back to basecamp and get us some dry clothes in case we got wet. Bah...we'll be fine, I thought to myself. Everything is going to be ok. This is my mantra, by the way. I can get through all of life's trials if I just repeat to myself, Everything is going to be ok, this is temporary. I told myself that A LOT during that *really long loop*! The earlier rain had loosened up the trails and we had to go very carefully in places because it had gotten slick and you could see the slip marks of the horses gone before us. I know that these sorts of slips can tear suspensory ligaments, and other important structures that Lumpy would need to finish this ride, so we took it really carefully. Soon enough, it began to rain lightly. We had gotten off and were jogging, with Max explaining that this was a long downhill into the Shell Ranger Station. Thunder and lightening crackled around us and I was thankful for having a cover of trees, meaning NOT being the tallest thing on the landscape. That is, until Max told me about being out on a back country trip with other riders and watching as lightening literally blew up a tree in front of them. Wow, thanks Max! I needed that visual! We jogged on into the bottom, with the rain getting heavier. I was thinking, gee, that wool seat saver of mine is going to feel really good when I finally get back in the saddle. Ack! We caught up Scott Sansome and Dorothy Sue Phillips, who's voice had a familiar ring (ring?) to it. They were all walking with their horses slipping a little, like ours. We jogged on by them and hit a single track trail. Any thought of treading lightly to keep my feet somewhat dry in my lightweight Asics was dashed when my feet became instantly soggy going through the tallish grass. So much for that! We hit the bottom, got back on, and yea, my trusty seat saver was REALLY squishy by this time. Double Ack...oh well, things warmed up quickly and we headed up the next hill, in the rain. It was a mixed granite base so we could get a nice jog on. We hit a single track trail that cut off a switchback. I suggested to Max that we hold up under a tree for a bit to let the rain & thunder go by. Nope, not stopping! I had vetoed us slowing down way earlier in the first 5 miles of the ride and now it was Max's turn to return the favor. We popped up onto a road and the first thing we saw was a way baby moose. So cute! Except that I know instinctually that where there is a baby moose, generally a mama moose can be found, and yup! There she was lurking in the brush off the side of the road. She came up onto the road, gave Max and I a hard look, and decided to take off down the road, baby moose in tow. She took off one direction and we turned in another, heading up another long climb. It rained harder, the thunder boomed closer and we pressed on, keeping the Boys moving before the trails became a complete quagmire. It was slow going up that hill, but near the top, behind this fantastic huge rock facing, the sun started a battle to shine, eventually winning out over the thunder and rain. We came out of a single track trail at a careful jog, passing through a gate, completely amazed at the view. No riders in front of or behind us as far as the eye could see. We figured we were solidly in the middle of the pack by this time. The Boys loved all the grass on these trails. I think there was green grass on over 95% of the trail! The Boys jogged and munched their way across a large mountain meadow. Max figured we were less than 5 miles out of the VC at this point which had us pretty happy, because it meant that this loop was a little short after having the first loop be way long, the second be right on and now this. We jogged our way up a long road, eyeing a truck parked at the top. It was the crew chief for a set of riders behind us. We joked with him about meeting us out there for comfort. He offered us a shot of anything he had, which we happily took him up on. Some sort of vanilla schnapps which he cracked open just for us really hit the spot! Max said his knees immediately went to jello, so figured he might have been a little dehydrated. Man, that stuff tasted good! We were concerned about our crew getting to this VC because we knew the roads were going to be hairy traveling and we had good cause. Patty drives a VW Jetta. We came around the bend to the VC and nope, no crew! That turned out ok, because Layne Simmon's crew was there and had plenty for all the BG's & me too. We ate, drank, had blankies for the Boys and plenty of mash for them, which they ate eagerly. No time to be picky! About the time we settled in after a really great vet exam for the Boys, Max says, "Hey, isn't that Kendall?" and sure 'nuff, coming down the hill we'd just descended, comes our crew! The Jetta was parked on top with our gear in it! Kendall turned on all the charm she has and one of the other crew dudes cleared out his truck and went off to get our gear. This only took about 5 minutes total since they were about 1/2 mile from the VC. The story from Patty and Lisa was that at the bottom of the climb, near the Shell Ranger Station, they ran into a good ole Wyoming Boy, who claimed he'd been 4 wheelin' in these parts for over 20 years and there was NO WAY Patty was going to get "that thing", referring to her cute lil Jetta, up THAT hill. Patty said thank you kindly, closed the door and FLOORED IT! She made it all the way to the top, with Lisa considering the best possible escape route from the backseat if necessary. At the top they thought twice about taking the Jetta on down into the VC, thinking they *might* not get back out again, hence Kendall's jogging in. They got the gear there, the weather cleared, making them decide to go back up for the Jetta and finish waiting for us to return to Jack Creek for our 4th VC.