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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 IV - the Final Installment! - Darlene Anderson

July 17, 2010

Our previous two vet checks had been hour holds. At that wonderful ride meeting, I had been given another reason to gape in awe when the RM said that we would have an "option" at this vet check. We could take an hour hold before the Shagnasty, and do a trot by for VC 4, OR we could go through VC 3 w/a trot by and take the hour hold at VC4, OR, we could take a half hour on each end. I admit, from an ride manager's perspective, this seemed like a situation that was potentially going to cause ride management a ton of grief if they didn't have someone out there, like say...Anna Sampson, who could keep track of who was doing what. But I imagined that Anna would have had a fit if she was told what we were going to be deciding for ourselves. Max and I decided immediately that we were giving our Boys the half hr on each end. This seemed to be in the best interest of our Boys. Either of the other two ways was going to give them a loooong ways between breaks. And so we took our half hour hold, ate a sammich and had our water bottles filled and were generally well taken care of by Team Bad Girls. Thank you!! We left Jack Creek at the canter, once again, with the boys feeling fresh. The rain had stopped and even though every single part of us was damp, the Boys were dry and warm, and eager to find more green grass. We started to climb what I learned was the Shagnasty and Boulder Basin. A loooong and steady climb up trail that Max had navigated in the reverse direction, in the complete dark, back in '06. He was reliving much of that loop as we went, marveling at how pretty it was in the daylight! We hit Boulder Basin, and continued to climb and climb. By this time, when Max said, "See the top of that mtn over there, we'll go right through that spot a little to the right of the saddle, by that big rock,"...Really? Another big climb over another HUGE mountain? Why isn't Lumpy doggin' on me yet? Why hasn't he passed a single bowl of wet oats or patch of green grass? Why isn't he moping about being the one tagged for this ride, cursing Nero's name under his breath? How can he be so fresh after 60 miles of the toughest terrain we've ever ridden through? Why am I questioning this? Oh crumb, the mosquitoes are out again, little bastards! I was swatting and batting them off of Lumpy as we climbed up the Shagnasty because I felt he might appreciate it in some horse way. I hope he did anyhow.

As we neared the top of this slow climb, with Max recalling his friend, Tracy Blue, getting a nasty blow to the face by low hanging branches they couldn't see back in '06. We climbed on, slow and steady. At the top, the trail curved and we could see the Adelaide lakes far below us. "That's where we're going!" Max told me. Wow, that's a LONG ways down, I thought, and off I jogged with Lumpy jogging easily behind me, stopping to snatch mouthfuls of grass as we went. Eventually it leveled out and what seemed like hours later we came to a water crossing that was about 2' deep and you could see baby trout swimming around! Max recalled stopping near here and letting the horses graze for about a half hour on his last trip through this piece of wilderness. Today it was beautiful, grassy and the Boys took a long drink out of the clear water before pressing on to the Lakes. As we came into the bottoms near Adelaide Lake, Lumpy just threw his head up, and took off at this amazing canter! He felt so free and happy at that moment that I just about cried. Ok, I did cry a little. That was a banner moment in my life. I was riding an incredible horse, through incredible country and I had never been anywhere near this free and happy inside my heart. I'll always be thankful to the Incredible Lumpy for that moment. Max and Junior kept time behind us, never complaining, never chastising and always encouraging. Soon enough we began to climb out of the lake bottom and begin an ascent that would bring us back to Jack Creek...just over this mountain we're about to go over, and then down the other side, and maybe over one more little "hill"...during this climb Tom Noll and Dorothy Sue's party caught up with us again, passing us by with a cheery hello & see ya later. It was good to see Frank looking like he was getting through this, his last 100 miler, in fine form. About a mile or so later, we came around a bend, doing about a 7 mph jog, when we see their party of riders stopped & grazing while one of the riders took a "pit stop". Frank looked longingly at Junior as we jogged on by. We figured we'd see them again before this climb was over. Dorothy Sue made some comment about hoping it wouldn't rain in earnest again, making Max laugh and tell her, "You're gonna get wet Dorothy Sue!" As we crested that climb it did rain, and it did sleet and hail...some more. My wonderfully dry shirt and jacket that I'd changed into prior to starting out on this wonderful loop were soon soaking wet. This confirmed without a doubt that the bright green/yellow jacket I'd so proudly paid $13 for at the Bi-Mart store, thinking it would be a nice waterproof addition to Nero's ensemble, was sadly, not one bit waterproof, or even water resistant, not even a little. Dorothy trotted by Lumpy and I, taking a position directly in front of us. Earlier I had mentioned to Max that it gave me great comfort having so many people who had finished this ride, within the time limit no less, were so close around us! But her horse soon slowed up, trying to get his face out of the wind and rain. Lumpy wasn't ready to slow yet, so I dodged to the left and kicked him on by her, picking up a fast lope, finishing off the hill with a vengeance. Looking over my shoulder, I saw Max and Junior right at our flank. All I wanted to do was get this loop finished and get these boys under dry blankets! We're loping along with Lumpy trying to get his face somehow out of the sleet and rain that was like a wall in our faces. Quickly, I realized we were on a road that Max had pointed out out to me much earlier as the one we'd be coming down into VC4!! I didn't have to urge Lumpy on one bit, he saw the road for what it was and came roaring into the VC, quickly meeting the pulse criteria with a 60 pulse.

As I had expected, we got questioned thoroughly as to whether we had been seen by a vet on our first trip through the VC and we got questioned a few times as to what we had decided on our last visit to this VC. Time and again, we said we had chosen the half hour on each end. It was raining steadily, but our A Team crew had brought dry socks, boots and pants for me! Oh dang, I'd never been so happy to see dry clothes in my life! I peeled off the wet ones in the front seat of Patty's car and drug the dry ones on, with Patty telling us it hadn't rained in Shell and was easily 20-30 degrees warmer down there. Lisa gave up her beautiful rain proof jacket, mostly because I looked so pitiful, I think. I can't say I'd have been as generous, but I was SO thankful to her at that moment! The vets didn't want us to tary here, potentially letting our horses cramp up, so up we climbed onto our Brave Boys, and off we went, dark helmets securely in place, with fresh batteries in my bag, just in case. I was crowing to Max about how great the trail had been marked to this point. We had done plenty of walking by this time, both on and off the Boys, so Max's hip was giving him fits. He was off again, trailing Junior down a long slippery slope, reminding me that we still had somewhere near 25 miles left in this ride and it wasn't dark yet, but would soon be. It was after 7 pm and the rain was lightening up steadily. On and on we trudged to the bottom of a very long and slippery hill. We saw the Bad Girls, way out in front of us, climbing a side hill, getting ever closer to being out of the mountains and back into the Badlands. That was a long ways off though. More walking. At the top the trail went back down, but we saw that it had dried out enough to get on and do some trotting. I had felt a sense of urgency all day, wanting to get as much trail done in the daylight as possible. We had made several decisions based on this urgency. We had left people we would have been happy to spend a pleasant day with and we had trotted some downhill that neither of us would ordinarily go so fast on. Max had held a constant skepticism about whether the trail would be properly marked once we hit the dark section and he didn't want to be caught somewhere totally unfamiliar. I scoffed at him again, pointing out how great the marking had been! They were on top of things! Really! We descended into this gorgeous little valley where cattle were grazing. There was a darling little cabin near some pens and while we were marveling at seeing cars coming from the Jack Creek road, Max suddenly stopped and said, "There's no hoofprints!" EEK!! We immediately began backtracking and quickly found where we had gone wrong. There was a pitiful orange flag ground into the mud and off in some tall grass, blinking merrily, even though it was still too light to really see it well, was a red flasher on a stick! "Max! Look, I told you!" I yelled as I headed up the hill, seeing another flasher at the top of the hill. Max just grunted, happy to concede the point to me. I think he was in too much pain to put up too much of a fight, but I know he might have been thinking we had dodged the Big Horn Bullet and "everything was going to be ok"! We started another climb where we could see the slip marks of the horses in front of us, their feet going this way and that. We took extra care going up this gooey black clay stuff. We came to the top and the middle of the road was just nasty. I tried popping up on the side to see if the footing was better and to check for badger or prairie dog holes. Nothing! It was clear sailing as far as the eye could see....for now. Max had to drag Junior up over that bank because Junior didn't trust the Arab to get him to any place safe in this muck. Max mentioned that his boots each felt like they weighed 20 lbs. He was happy to get on Junior and do some trotting. A little later, with the sun setting behind some low clouds we passed through a gate and were amazed to see that the ground was all but dry here. Up ahead of us was a grey horse with a rider who looked suspiciously like Lois Fox! As we came up on her, I said, "Hey Lois, how ya doin?" "Not so good," she replied. She told us that Mocha was acting colicky, pawing the ground and trying to lay down. She had urged her Bad Girl friends to go on and not hold up on her account after awhile. We walked along with her for a bit, taking note of Mocha's behavior. When we stopped for a moment to discuss our next course of action, Lumpy took the opportunity to eat more grass, as did Junior, but Mocha just pawed the ground impatiently. Lois loves her critters more than just about anyone I know and I could tell this was really taking a toll on her. My heart went out out to her because I knew as well as she did that we were WAY OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, WYOMING! Max gave Mocha a tube of some good stuff and Lois urged us to go on. I told her we'd try to get someone sent out to help her. Little did I know what was in front of us when I said that. We jogged on in the waning daylight. Soon we caught up with Ona, Pat Murray and Layne. Pat sent Ona on with us after a brief discussion. Pat wasn't feeling too hot, so she and Layne had decided to just keep going but not at a hard trot. Riding with Ona was nice. I felt secure riding with two people who had done the ride before, because we very quickly realized....um, there's NO MORE FLASHERS on this trail and the only ribbons were ones thrown in the trail, Teeteresque like...only the Teeters put ribbons on the sagebrush and throw glowsticks on the ground, which is actually quite handy. This method was anything but handy. Daylight is barely there now and we go carefully along watching closely for footprints and the VERY occasional flag ground into the dirt. We saw a headlamp, like a giant beacon in the quickly approaching dark, swinging to and fro. Max commented that it appeared that someone was looking for the trail? He gave me a pointed look. Ok, you were right!! Dang I'm glad you're along for this ride! As we approached the riders, we saw that it was Tani Bates on her Marjan horse, with Clydea Hastie, indeed looking for the trail. Tani was thinking she wasn't on the right trail and had begun to to backtrack her way down the hill. This was understandable because...well, THERE WEREN'T ANY MARKINGS ON THE TRAIL!! I began to worry about Lois now because she can get herself off trail at times. It was too late to go back and it was getting too dark to waste much daylight discussing where the trail might lie. I followed Max and Junior on up the hill, with Ona, Tani and Clydea following us. We came to a gate and there was a flag in the dirt nearby! Max got off, and stuck the flag into the top of the gate post, in the hope that the riders behind us would make it this far with what we now knew to be way poor night time trail markings. As we jog trotted along, I could hear Max's voice in my conscience, regaling he and Tom's last time on this really dark trail with no ribbons and nothing to guide their way but Tom's GPS tracks. Oh man...I SO didn't want to have to resort to that! I SO wanted to just find our way off this dang hill and back to camp! Many thoughts crossed my mind as we came upon split after split in the trail, trying to decide what was road (since they told us we'd follow a "road" all the way in and not a trail!) and what was trail. At one gate we fanned out and were looking fruitlessly for any sort of ribbon or flag. I'm sure the cows ate it, wire and all, because cows and elk are just spiteful creatures, determined to see us fail in our endurance pursuits. I think they heard the rumor that we endurance riders are idiots and rely heavily on markings to get us anywhere outside of that paper bag. Dumb cows...I had my headlamp trained on the ground in beside me looking for anything that resembled something besides a cowprint. "I FOUND A PRINT!" I yelled. I was sure I was looking at a very small hoofprint in the dirt. It had only rained lightly here, so when the riders before us went through, their hoofprints left dry spots on the ground. Max confirmed that this was indeed one of Nellie's hoofprints. He didn't even get off to smell it, but I trusted him anyhow. Off we trotted, into the dark, to the next split in the trail. It was so imperative to me that we just keep on trotting where we could at this point! The trail was solid, dry and rock free, so trot we did. Tani's beacon was behind me casting a shadow of Lumpy and I, so I moved aside and let her pass. She, Ona, and Clydea moved ahead of us, with Tani lighting the way. I turned off my light and just followed along for awhile. Gate after gate, we sought out the elusive flags, coming down a road where a set of cattle tanks loomed to our left. Max confirmed that we were on the right trail, based on the location of the tanks. Yayyy!! Tani picked her way to the tanks, where Marjan regarded them with suspicion. Junior had no such issues and dropped his nose into the water and drank deeply. Lumpy was also mistrustful of the tank, but did dip his lips in briefly. Clydea's horse wasn't having any of it and I was only peripherally aware of a scuffle resulting in Clydea falling off of her horse. She and Tani took a minute to regroup. Ona, who didn't have a light or glowsticks, started to move off slowly. Junior took in behind Fin and Lumpy, not to be left behind, followed Junior. I looked back to see that Tani and Clydea were ok, with their horses standing quietly. Perhaps Clydea's horse just needed the peace for a moment. They caught up with us quickly and we let them pass again. The 3 girls trotted on down the road. I wasn't entirely comfortable trotting on ground that was looking to me like it was deteriorating to a base more rocky. Around this time, I saw some sort of vehicle in front of us and a red flasher! They were marking the trail backwards! Those riders behind us would be ok! I could tell them to go find Lois and make sure that Mocha was ok! I was happy to see that quad, for sure. It was Jeannette Tolman, the ride manager that we had come upon. She had cut the engine to her quad and was sitting there quietly, holding a flasher over her head. We stopped and told her that she had a ton of riders behind us, with no good markings to follow, AND she had a sick horse out there to find! She repeated these things, giving me the feeling she was going to head on down the trail, leaving a trail of flashers for those riders behind us. I felt comforted by this thought, because after all, that's what I would do! I've managed a ride or two and having trail that has been sabotaged is a reality, be it by crummy humans or spiteful bovine. We trotted on, not even able to see the three girls in front of us now. We figured we wouldn't see them again until we finished, IF we finished! I was now the skeptical one and Max kept reassuring me that he was familiar with this portion of the trail, IN THE DARK! We were going to be ok. We had the occasional flasher to lead us in now but we had hit the "slippy rock" that Pat had warned me about. Lumpy was slipping and sliding. We got off the Boys and led them along. I stayed close behind Junior so I could leave my light off and let Max find the best possible trail. We came around a corner and WTH? There were the Girls! Ona's horse had slipped and fell on that nasty slippery granite. They appeared to be ok, Ona was walking on the ground. Clydea and Tani were picking their way along through this section, taking great care. Lumpy was getting impatient by this time, amazing me with his energy and drive to go forward. I asked Max if we could slip by them and move on down the trail. He gave the ok after making sure that Ona was ok. He had put an easyboot on Fin awhile back and we would see long slip tracks on some of the rock by the boot and shoes as well. The rock was lightening up though, and I let Lumpy move on past the Girls and pick up a very light trot, barely 6 mph. Oh man...I can't even tell you what a rush it was to feel THIS HORSE, LUMPY, feeling SO DANG GOOD at this point in the ride! Crumb! More downhill and this section was WAY BAD! Max had warned me about this section of trail. It was a long, windy, extremely rocky section of downhill. We were both off the Boys again, picking our way deftly down the trail. Max and Junior did a great job of leading us down that thing. A few times I could see over the edge, and wow! Way scary! The only problem with Max leading with his headlamp on is that he looks at the trail, then he looks to his right, then his left, then on the trail, then behind him...I don't know now Junior didn't fall off that trail a few times! He must be used to it though because he never missed a step. Max's headlamp made me just laugh. I was actually thinking I might finish the BIG HORN RIDE! It was past 11 pm and I knew Max was in pain, but not whining. My boots I had been so thankful for were now hot on my feet, with those fat socks insulating my feet! I had tied Lisa's jacket onto the back of my saddle and was down to a t shirt again. Who woulda thunk that? After all the rain we had gone through, we were getting warm, it was warm out! And dark, beautifully dark. There is something that happens between a horse and rider when they ride together in the dark. The burden of responsibility for the well being of the team is on the rider in the daylight, more with some horses than others, but in the dark, I've always let my horse pick the way. I've never been let down. I've heard hairy stories, but my FeatherB taught me to just trust her and she would get me through. I was thinking all these thoughts, watching Lumpy follow along behind me, grabbing bites of grass off the side of the trail as we went. All of a sudden Max said, "That's it, we're down off that one!". WHAT? Wow!! We made it! Up we went, back on our Boys, and picked up a brisk trot on a lovely road. We trotted on and on, with the Boys not missing a step. The flashers were visible and I remember thinking how great the riders behind us were going to have it, what with the RM out there getting the trail marked for them. Things were going to be ok for everyone! We slowed up again when we came to a spot where the road became nothing but white bentonite, with a flasher that I had long been considering. Max had brought us out here after the ride meeting on Friday. He had pointed to a formidable drop off, telling us how the ride "used to" come down that way, but in '06, it wound around and came down a road...way down here, as he drove to a road crossing. This is where we could be coming down and hitting the road we were on at that moment, and then continue on to what used to be the old ride camp at the Trapper Creek Ranch. That drop off was scary looking! I was considering all this in silence as I contemplated that flasher in the distance. Was it down on the road Max had taken us on the previous evening, was it right in front of us? In the dark, it's hard to tell how far it is to those handy little flashers. Your depth perception gets screwy and well, you're just plain tired. Then it was right in front of us! We were heading down THAT DROP OFF!! When Junior realized what was about to happen, he cut left and said, "Screw this! I'm outta here!", towing Max along behind feebly trying to dissuade Junior from dragging him back up that bentonite! As we descended the drop off, I seem to recall there were 3 big steps we went down, we saw the faint lights of crew vehicles in a designated pit stop area! We were almost done with the Big Horn Ride!! It wasn't far now! The Boys seemed to pick up on our excitement because when Max got back on Junior, and I was firmly seated on Lumpy, they took off at the high trot. Behind me I cold just see Tani's beacon starting the descent down the giant steps. The Girls were ok too! This was going to be so good!!

We came trotting along the crew vehicles, with me whooping loudly, bringing our crew flying out of the Jetta. Lisa had declined this stop, and who could blame her! But Patty, Kendall, and Tani's crew chief, a fellow Trail Raider, Alyssa Marre were laughing and cheering us on! They gave the Boys a dose of electrolytes, some welcome bites of alfalfa and mash. We threw hot coats at them, and had our water bottles quickly filled. We were nearly done! We were giddy with excitement. Well, I was anyhow, I can't speak for Max, but I do know he was bent on going forward! Now! Off we went, jubilant, into the night and into Trapper Creek, where the Boys drank and drank! I thought Junior was going to suck that creek dry! There were several crew vehicles parked along the road for about a half mile and the crews were cheering us on and urging us forward. It didn't seem possible for our Boys to even need a second wind, but Lumpy picked up what had to have been an 8.5 mph trot and away we went, through another gate and off into the desert Badlands, red flashers marking our way. Lumpy attacked that hill with a vengeance, never flagging all the way to the top. We slowed so Junior could catch up and then picked up a 6.5 mph trot across the desert. I could now hear my mom's voice in my head, describing her '07 National Championship experience at the Teeter Ranch, riding her last 8 mile loop out there w/our Awesome Isaac horse, calling that trail the Baton Death March. It just went on and on. Here I was, in the dark, in the desert, wondering if we were ever going to get back to that road crossing. The trail just went on and on. It was good footing and the Boys would dive off the trail from time to time to grab a bite of dusty dry yellow grass. Their appetite hadn't changed one bit all day. They ate with a passion reserved for good endurance horses all day long. I nearly cried again, with appreciation for all that Lumpy had "endured" for me on this day. I also wondered, wistfully, if Nero had been able to take this trail on with the strength that Lumpy had done? These and many other things were racing quietly through my mind as Max and I turned off our lights and just marveled at the sheer darkness of the night. The Boys were moving with confidence and we were feeling pretty good. Max had taken some pain meds so wasn't quite as visibly miserable as he had tried not to look earlier. This version of the BDM was taking a toll on all of us though and we were ready to hit that highway and finish the last 2 miles of the BIG HORN RIDE! Coming through what appeared to be giant clay dunes, we cleared the last one, saw a little house on the hillside to our left and the highway!! We had made it! Max informed me that the 7 mile ride from Trapper Creek was reading more like 9 miles on his GPS. Ack, no wonder we were feeling so worn out! We crossed the highway with the Boys eating bite after bite of fresh green grass. We hit the final gravel road into camp and picked up a light jog trot. It didn't seem worthwhile to push these Amazing Boys any harder than that after all they had been through on this day. We rounded the last corner and heard our WONDERFUL CREW cheering us on! It was nearly 1:30 am and here we were at the finish of the Big Horn Ride! I got choked up, I broke out in goosebumps all over, and I had trouble breathing from the sheer enormity of what Lumpy and I had just done! I love Nero, you know I do, but I couldn't have loved any horse more than I loved Lumpy in that moment. He had just carried me through one of the tuffest 100 mile rides in the entire USA! We had survived that last 25 miles and stayed on trail only because Max had such good recall from '06. We did this thing. We crossed the finish line where Patty told us that we were 3rd and 4th!! WHAT THE HELL??? How the hell did that happen? Are you sure, we were running mid pack of 34 starters all day long and passed no one who hadn't passed us again? Are you sure? We were asked if we wanted to show for BC, but we declined. Oh no, you can't decline, we're just going to do it right now with your completion exam. Oh what the hell, we've done 100 miles of tuff damn trail, we're less than an hour behind the leaders (Really? Really...how the hell DID that happen?). I stood on the rickety scale, while my weight was recorded, then went to the vet with the Wonderful Lumpy. His pulse had already been down to 56 according to my heart rate monitor when I took his saddle off. No problem making that pulse criteria! The vet put his hand on my shoulder and explained his protocol to me. "What I'm gonna do is trot along 'side of ya, with my light on your horse, and I'm goin' to listen to his hoofbeats as we go" (And in my mind, while I felt like chattering endlessly, I heard him silently say, "So hush, so I can hear your horse trot!") Got it! Lumpy trotted out like he had when we left in the morning and when he was finished and we had returned to the finish line, he stretched out and peed. I held my breath, because, well you know why. We endurance riders are just fascinated by a horse peeing. It's silly, but there I was studying it in the dark, what color is it? Light? Dark? Yippeee, it looked great. I held back tears as I hugged Lumpy as fiercely as I could. He doesn't cotton to such behavior and he was plenty happy about the BC judging being done because he hates foo foo and being fooified as much as his brother , Stranger (Ridden by Carol Giles). We were done, we had a completion and a BC exam in the bag!! I had just followed a dream that my mom lit inside of me when I was 12 years old. I know she was living vicariously through me this day, because she had told me so. She had passed on the ride for a variety of reason, but directed me to get this done for her.

Max was nearly delirious. Asked if he was going to show for BC, he also declined, but they tried to explain the protocol to him while gently pushing him onto that rickety scale. He started to tip backwards so I just placed my index finger pointing into his back, propping him up slightly. This made me laugh, but they recorded his weight and then the vet explained what the trot out was going to consist of to Max. I'm not sure he heard much because Junior was trying, in vain, to tow him away. The vet lit his light and trotted down the lane with Junior and Max, and then back, all the while with Junior trying to drag Max off into the pucky brush. After they were given their completion, Junior finally got his way and drug Max over to the water tank and nearly dunked him in it! Junior was thirsty! What crummy mule whisperers we all were! Junior and Lumpy drank with fervor and when they were finished, our crew had our gear loaded up in the cart, heading back, with us following, basking in the enormity of it all. I had finished Big Horn. Max had shucked that Big Horn Monkey off his back. We did it! And we did it in fine style! We finished with HOURS TO SPARE! How dang cool was that? Patty and Kendall tended carefully to our Brave Boys, while Lisa busied herself making Swedish Meatballs in the camper! Tani came in through camp nearly an hour later, with her completion nailed down, looking as tired as we were. She asked about Lois. I hadn't heard a thing, so I headed on back to the finish line to find LOIS there already, along with Kevin, Rusty and Tom! Tom's GPS had saved the day for them. Turns out the RM didn't go out and finish marking the trail after all. She had sat there, probably in stunned shock with less than 4 hours of sleep in the last 4 days, under that power line, fruitlessly holding that red flasher for all the riders who wouldn't get there to see. Lois had been wandering out in the desert, when she came upon Tom, Kevin and Rusty, doing much the same thing. They all hooked up and turned to Tom and his GPS tracks to lead them in. He did, and he did it well. They finished with plenty of time, as opposed to '06 when he, Max, Tracy Blue, and Chris Yost had finally returned to camp at 7 am, to find they were 3 hrs overdue. That day they had conquered a trail with no markings and gotten no completion. On this day, Tom and Frank beat the trail and earned Franks Final 100 Mile Completion. Congratulations Frank. You're one tuff horse and I admire you.

Pat and Layne weren't so lucky, but they managed to make it back to camp in time to get their completions, giving the Bad Girls, Past, Present, and WannaBe's a 100% completion rate. Way to go Girls, and Max, you're all my Heroes, and you let me be a Cool Kid and one Bad Ass Girl for a day. I love you all and I hope we get to do it all again some day. I know...sick! I know! But after the pain of childbirth, many women go on to do it again...and again! It's that sort of sickness.

On Monday we made the trip to Bozeman, unloaded those Boys and watched them eat with enthusiasm. We did the same and then sat and enjoyed a gorgeous Montana sunset. In Spokane, Washington, the next evening, we met up with Tani, Lois, and Alyssa. All 4 ponies out in that arena was an amazing sight. I was just floored that these amazing animals carried us through 100 miles of dang tough trail, stood in a trailer for 1600 miles, and were racing around that arena like colts!

Patty and Kendall had roadtripped home back to Washington, north of Seattle a few miles, with smiles on their faces, I hope. We couldn't have done this ride without their help. They never whined, they never got short tempered and they gave their all to us. I hope I can repay that in kind some day. Love these Girls.

And now, after 2000 miles of roadtrip, 100 miles of dang tough trail, Lumpy unloaded out the trailer and trotted up the hill, nonplussed about the entire experience. I went out to brush out my beloved Nero today and breathe him in. Lumpy saw me coming with brushes and Cowboy Magic...and turned heel and left! "No way, NO FOO FOO!! Geez, how many times do I have to tell you woman?" I brushed out a most appreciative Nero, and marveled at how much I love these ponies.

I can never thank Max and Lisa enough for letting me and Lumpy accompany them to Wyoming, sharing their space, and experiencing a generosity I've only experienced from my dear friend, Ina.

My faith in human kind was renewed time and again on this trip, starting with the Good Samaritan who turned my misplaced wallet into the Connell PD, to Max and Lisa, who calmed my nerves and jitters resulting from losing my wallet, taking in an eyeful of those huge mountains and realizing we were pretty much on our own for over 20 miles of that last loop. I met some really great people, some really not so great people, and all people in between and I'm glad for the experience. I'm also happy that I get to share it with friends, both those I've laid eyes on and hugged, and those I've only met online and well, hugged virtually. Thank you all. My life is richer because of you.

Darlene M Anderson
and SAR Tiki Eclipse, who we just call Lumpy.