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Big Horn 100 - Shell, Wyoming

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Merri's Stories
Big. Goal. Big. Horn || Big Horn: Big Dilemma || Big Horn: Big Solution!
Big Horn 100 - Photo Tales - Part I || Big Horn 100 - Photo Tales - Part II
Big Horn 100 - Photo Tales - Part III
Big Horn: Big Conclusion

Kevin Water's Story: Survivor!! Big Horn 2011!!
Kerry Greear's Story: Kerry and Little Joe...Our 2011 Big Horn Story
Bev Gray's Story: 100 Miles in the Big Horns

2011 Big Horn 100 - July 16, 2011

Photos by Merri Melde

Vet In Day Gallery I

Vet In Day Gallery II

Vet Check 1 - Gallery I

Vet Check 1 - Gallery II

Vet Check 2

Vet Check 3

Big Horn: Big Conclusion

Saturday July 23 2011

It's a rugged ride, this Big Horn 100. It's historic, legendary, magnetic, and it's been around a long time. It's been called "the longest continually running 100-mile race in North America", though the earliest reference to it I find is that the local riding club, the Canyon Cavaliers, "got the idea of doing a 100 mile ride in 1970". The first Tevis Cup 100-mile ride was held in 1955; perhaps the Big Horn statement refers to Tevis being cancelled because of fires in 2007. Regardless, the Big Horn 100 is one of the original, traditional, most beautiful, arduous, 100-mile rides in the country, and a silver Big Horn belt buckle is most coveted. Many people would probably name the Big Horn 100 in the top 3 rides in the country, along with Tevis and the Old Dominion.

And with the Big Ones, there always seems to be an aftermath in some form or another, with some participants.

The Incidents during the Big Horn 100 the last 8 years have been well documented. (Read the stories for yourself - http://www.endurance.net/international/USA/2010BigHorn/index.html and http://merritravels.endurance.net/2011/04/big-goal-big-horn.html.)

It doesn't mean people don't still love the Big Horn, and it doesn't mean that they don't still come to ride it. They do still come, they do still ride, and they do still love it, even with a chance that somebody's lottery number casts them as the ones who will have the It-Happened-To-Me-And-I-Survived tale to tell after it's over...


Big Horn 100 - Photo Tales - Part III

Friday July 22 2011

We'd sort of gotten the directions to Vet Check 3... but we crossed a creek we weren't supposed to cross, and as the old logging road got windier and narrower as it went up and up, we thought this couldn't be right. "Look for the porta-potty, at the 50's vet check" we'd been told... but - way up here?

We crossed the Big Horn trail markers a couple of times, but that could have meant we were on the right road, or totally the wrong road. We were just about to turn around and go back down... somewhere, to find someone to ask (no cell phone coverage anywhere), when we happened upon a portapotty and the 50's vet check, where people still happened to be waiting.

"Keep going!" they waved us on. "It's just a couple miles. Pass the Snowshoe Lodge, pass over a cattle guard, you'll see flags turning you off to the right."

Hooray, we find all this, and then... nothing. We come to a gate with an unlocked lock on it and a sign that says "Private Property." Another crew guy is there in his pickup. "Do we go through this?" Heck, we didn't know. We both drove through and closed the gate behind us. The road deteriorated - thank goodness it wasn't wet or we might be stuck up here a couple of weeks - and we came to ANOTHER gate. This couldn't be right, we thought, and how much worse was the road going to get?...


Big Horn 100 - Photo Tales - Part II - Merri Melde

Thursday July 21 2011

The full moon hangs over the soaring walls and cliffs of the Big Horn mountains, as we drive to the first vet check at 5 AM. Up and up and up, driving around and around in hairpin curves, we climb to Granite Pass at 9000'. The morning sun is just starting to crest the horizon when we turn off the highway and climb up and up some more.

When we get to a snow field, the lead crew truck pulls a "Road Closed" sign out of the way, and we try driving further on, toward where last year's vet check was; finally the lead truck turns around and decides we should have the vet check below the snowfield, so nobody gets stuck or slides off the road. Good plan I say! The vets didn't object to the location when they arrived.

Steph unloads the truck with Kevin, Kevin and Rusty's crew gear and prepares food for the horses while I get out my camp stove, and put it together and start to boil water for the fresh Starbucks grounds I'm going to put in the French Press, so the boys can have some freshly brewed coffee like I promised them (after, of course, Steph and I have a serving first.)

As the water is starting to warm up, I realize I forgot the coffee grounds...


Big Horn 100 - Photo Tales - Part I - Merri Melde

Wednesday July 20 2011

Rising abruptly from the high desert valley, the Big Horn mountains loom large over basecamp for the 41st annual Big Horn 100/50/30 mile endurance ride. Carved by uplifts and glaciers, the mountains were born 70 million years ago. The range was named by American Indians for the big herds of bighorn sheep at its mouth. The Big Horns have been inhabited by humans for 10,000 years, evidenced by rock shelters, petroglyphs and pictographs. The rock Bighorn Medicine Wheel, on Medicine Mountain, is 700 years old and is the most important of several medicine wheels in the West. Even earlier, dinosaurs hung out here. They all left their footprints then; we were coming to leave our human and horse hoofprints on the trails now.

The intrepid endurance junkies came from all over to ride the Big Horn: California, Colorado (Kevin and Rusty), Wyoming (Kevin), New York, Iowa, Colombia (the country). Steph and I came from Idaho to crew for Kevin, Kevin and Rusty.

Roxi Welling, from Iowa, brought 3 Colombian Young Riders with her - they will be riding in the FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championships in Kentucky on July 29. The two boys and girl had never done a 100 before. What an adventure this was going to be for them!


From the Big Horn web page, post ride

Sorry, I haven't got the pictures up yet! I had to have an emergency root canal so I'll get them up ASAP! But, First some questions. Jeanette missed the ride meeting because she was stuck in the Shell Resevoir while marking the trail. See picture. She missed the awards banquet because, we had moved the time to 10am but the riders showed up at 9am so they did it without her. She was there promptly at 10am. As for the horses that spent the night on the mountain. They were in a corral with blankets, feed and water at the last vet check. Also, the reason they were on the mountain is because our rig is the only one that can get into the remote locations where both sets of horses were on opposite sides of the mountain. We were hauling down a coliced horse and two other horses and the trailer only holds four so we had to come back for the others. We didn't arrive back at camp until 6:00am with the first set of horses. The others were hauled out safely later that morning.

100 Miles in the Big Horns - Beverly Gray

The Big Horn 100, could easily be one of the most challenging, dramatic, difficult and yet, most gratifying finish that one could imagine. In your endurance ride dream calendar, a proverbial “bucket list”.

I’ve been training my Mandolynn Hill gelding, Jolly Sickle for the Big Horn.

Jolly Sickle is a compact, steamroller build with a very forward attitude. Coming from the Arabian race track, he also has a mow you down mind-set. Alright, it’s the type of horse that I like to ride.

We train on the trails out my back door which ascend abruptly to 10,000ft coated in deep timber and meander thru rocks and massive pines and aspens. Although, this year, many of my regular July trails were still blocked with walls of winter snow so I do trailer to my flat, long trot trails.

On July 15, 1989, the Big Horn 100 was the site of the prestigious Race of Champions. Susan Gibson, the ROC ride manager was notorious for selecting a spectacular ride site, a breathtaking course and a challenge to test her champion line up from around the US and Canada. The qualification for the ROC- Five 100 mile top tens. There were usually 80 to 100 entries. It was not only a first to finish race, but each time zone had it’s own team colors, halters, with time zone team challenges to win for your own region. There was even a “cavalry” division; no crew, no help, pack all your supplies and feed. OK, on the Big Horn 100 Trail!!!!!!!!! A parade, music and a celebration of the endurance horses entered always proceeded race day. The excitement and tension bubbled over. At the 1989 Big Horn Race of Champions, I rode AA Omner. (Hall of Fame)


Survivor!! Big Horn 2011!! - Kevin Waters

Tuesday July 19 2011

Just got back from one of the most beautiful rides of the AERC . It has EVERYTHING! you could ever ask for in an endurance ride/race. It is missing many basics but you cant have everything-right? definitly not for the faint of heart.While this is one of the Big Three endurance rides in the US along with Tevis and Old Dominion it is also a ride you must prepare for and you have to understand that you will be up in a remote area alone.Thisis the challenge ! If you or your horse have any issues you have to solve them alone . There is no plan in evidence to help you out if you or your horse or friends get hurt. there are no cell phones no radios nor ride managment commnication. You better take care of your ride and yourself because if you or your horse stopped for any reason you will have to hike out on your own go to camp and beg,borrow or steal a trailer to get your own horse out. ( i observed several people going up in the morning getting their horses alone. If you come in too late to a vet check there wont be one for you! Deal with it!

The Trail; probably the toughest , most scenic challenging trail you will find in the Endurance world . This trail is your reward and really the only reward you will need or get ! It goes from about 4200' to 10200' and up and down MANY times in between! There are bogs,mud,rocks,uphills,downhills,heat, views,trees,moose,bears,elk,deer,deep water,shallow water,more rocks. This year it was well marked for the 100!

not so well for the 50s or 60s as it turned out!


Kerry and Little Joe…..Our 2011 Big Horn Story - Kerry Greear

Wednesday July 20 2011

I rode the Big Horn 100 in 2006 on Hawk, my fabulous Morab. It was his 3rd 100 and we finished 2nd and BC. That year, several people spent the night on the mountain and others were overtime because the trail was not marked for night riding. I was able to get off the mountain and do well because we had put a lot of miles behind us while it was cool and good footing first thing in the morning and because Dorothy Sue’s horse, Flyer, knew the trail and led us off the mountain down to the road into the Jack Creek Vetcheck.

Hawk and returned to the Big Horn in 2008. We had a wonderful ride again that year. I spent quite a lot of time on foot finding flags and putting them back up because I knew there were many people behind me who would not be able to find the trail.

This year, I did some XP miles in Wyoming and knew I needed a second horse. Hawk can do 250 miles over 5 days and do well, but he hates roads and since he is 16 this year, I prefer to keep him on better footing whenever I can. I knew Little Joe Too, my paint/arab was going to have to start carrying some load. I love riding Joe on trails, he is a powerful horse who is also sweet. But he came to me as a crazy horse with no self esteem, especially around other horses. I have had to be very careful riding him because he reacts, is quick, and we have parted ways many times. I took him to Ft. Howes before the XP so I would have a better idea of how he would do around the other horses. Vetting in on Friday afternoon, he had a HR of 68 and after trotting out he was 80. On Saturday, we waited until all were long gone then started on the trail. We spent a lot of time going sideways, but managed to finish the first 17 miles in pretty good shape. He had 40 to 50 spooks but only 4 or 5 bad ones and I only came off once. In the middle of the second loop, I could feel him relax and he did much better. He was still spooking, of course, but he was acting more like he does when we are alone or with Hawk on the trail, and he pulsed down easily. The last loop finished as a storm was coming in and he had that look in his eye again...but was 52/48 for his final CRI. I knew I could take him on the XP and finish some 50s...


Big Horn: Big Solution!

Monday July 11 2011

We're going to crew!

After weighing options and analyzing everything, we have (sadly) opted not to ride the Big Horn 100 this year. Main reasons are the expense of getting there, and the fact we'd given up the idea of riding it months ago due to expectations of high snow. Which was easy to conclude from weather reports in the winter/spring.

There were rumors that Tevis wouldn't take place on its regularly scheduled July 16 because of high snow levels, and indeed, in June, it was announced that the Tevis was postponed till October because of the high snows in the Sierras. According to winter snowpack reports, the Sierras were at 120 to 200% of normal. The Owyhee Mountains were at record levels this year. The North Cascades in Washington were 300% above normal. A record winter snowfall in the Grand Tetons had left an unprecedented snowpack as of mid-June. The Wind Rivers in Wyoming were 330% above normal. The Big Horn Mountains had above normal snows, and as we'd heard that would affect the Big Horn high trail, that's what we adjusted our ride schedule to counting out the Big Horn 100 this year.

20-year-old Rhett did 110 miles over 2 days at the end of May and another 50 miles just 2 weeks ago. Jose did 110 miles over 2 days at the end of May, and 100 miles over 2 days just 2 weeks ago. We think it's too much to ask of them to change plans and do another 100 in a week; had we stuck to our original plan from April, we'd not have ridden them that much before the Big Horn 100.

And so the next best thing to riding it is, we're going to crew for Kevin and Rusty from Colorado, who both finished the Big Horn 100 last year...


Big Horn: Big Dilemma

Saturday July 9 2011

To go or not to go - that is the question!

As of April, we had the Big Horn 100 as a goal, on July 16th.

Around the time that the Tevis was postponed till October because of high snow levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains, we heard that the Big Horn mountains also had a lot of snow and it was likely they couldn't use the usual high trail because the snow wouldn't have melted. (Someone knew someone who'd driven through there, someone heard it from someone...) Then someone said the 100 miles would be in the lowlands - and we really weren't interested. If we go that far to do the Big Horn 100, we want to do the original traditional Big Horn trail in the Big Horn mountains.

So it drifted out of our minds, slipped off our goal list for this year. Other goals surfaced: local rides like the 2-day Pink Flamingo, the 2-day Old Selam, and the Yost's tough Buckskin Challenge 50 mile ride. Steph suggested that maybe I should try riding Jose all 5 days in a row at our Canyonlands ride in September.

We really thought no more of the Big Horn for this year - until July 7 (9 days before the Big Horn). I got a call from a friend who asked if we were going. I said no, because we'd heard the ride was in the lowlands, and we wanted to do the original trail. He talked with the Ride Manager, who said the trail this year is the original trail, and 'trails are in good shape...'


Big. Goal. Big. Horn.

Tuesday April 26 2011

Pickett Creek is going to the Big Horn 100.

I've done Tevis - something I never imagined I'd have the chance to do - and I don't have the searing desire to do it again. (Honestly, I am very proud of my one-for-one record and would like to hold onto that for a while!).

I'd always had it in the back of my mind that I'd like to do the Big Horn also - but never really thought I'd get a chance. Steph has done Tevis twice, including last year. This year she wanted a challenge - but something different, a tough ride without all the hoopla and hype and crowds that come with Tevis: the Big Horn 100. (And they're on the same day this year, July 16.)

Neighbor Carol has wanted to do the Big Horn also. So does Connie. Regina. John. A couple of other Northwest riders. We have the horses: and now we're planning our ride schedule with Big Horn in our sights.

Why would we want to take on such a challenge?

"Come Ride the Legend!" the Big Horn website tempts...