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2008 DVE coverage


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2009 Death Valley Encounter
Images by John & Steph
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Death Valley 2013 Photos by Steve Bradley

Steve's DVE Photos Day 1

Steve's DVE Photos Day 2

Steve's DVE Photos Day 3

Steve's DVE Photos Day 4


Day 1 started out the day with a visit to a rock monument to celebrate the life of Tom Gossert, who according to the book topped over 400 mountains mountains in his lifetime, pretty cool way to honor a family member, friend and fellow adventurer.

64 riders took the trail this morning under clear blue skys. I was a fair distance into the ride as the LD riders started at 9:00 after a trailer ride to Ballarat. Everyone was all smiles too......

Day 2 started out the day with a visit to a rock monument to celebrate the life of Tom Gossert, who according to the book topped over 400 mountains mountains in his lifetime, pretty cool way to honor a family member, friend and fellow adventurer.

64 riders took the trail this morning under clear blue skys. I was a fair distance into the ride as the LD riders started at 9:00 after a trailer ride to Ballarat. Everyone was all smiles too......

Day 3 was the Tower Trail day, the vistas are just outstanding even though the trail itself is very narrow with lots of rocks. This is the day to come and climb as the light is right and the valley below can't be beat for scenery.

Day 4 put 47 rides on the trail. I went back to my old place for this morning as the light is real nice in that wash and the riders are spaced out just right. Happy New Year!!!

Steve Bradley


2009 Stories by Steph Teeter

pre-ride
The trailer is packed, saddles-pads-tack everything sorted, cleaned and neatly hanging on hooks and racks and stacked and sorted. That should last at least 30 minutes or so after we arrive! We're leaving in the morning, caravaning with our Scottsdale AZ friends Rusty and Kevin (and Rocky and Far and Redford). We have lots of leftovers from Kevin's incredible Christmas day Beef Wellington, and Rusty made turkey soup (from Thanskgiving leftovers) and we have plenty of other goodies. I don't think we'll go hungry. ...more


Day 1 Monday - Day 1 was a big loop out of camp with 2 stops at a vetcheck near the RR crossing. We rode out of camp and through a very charming little town (Randsburg) with very artsy (California hippie artsy) yards and houses and shacks and bus-abodes and a cute cafe and Opera House. My horse (Jaziret aka Rhett, as in "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn") was full of himself - strong and pulling every step, head high, tail high, I felt like I was riding a pogo stick... all day). John's horse Sunny was also strong and forward, but she never pulls... she may jig and dance a little but is very light in the mouth. ...more


Day 2
Day 2 - I went out again on Rhett, and John rode Batman. Rhett started out nice and mellow, a welcome change from the previous day. I think it had something to do with leaving his girlfriend back in camp, but whatever - it was nice to feel him moving out like a horse instead of like a pogo stick. However John had his hands full with the Bat. Poor fellow had just left his home and friends in Idaho a few weeks earlier - to hop into our trailer and come down to the land of saguaro cactus and howling coyotes, then take a long trailer trip to California and be left tied to the trailer for 32 hours while his new and only friends Sunny and Rhett left him behind, and then be asked to move out nice and easy on a cold crisp morning. ...more


Day 3 & 4
I felt tons better in the morning, and Rhett was looking pretty good too - moving easy and nice and bouncy. So - off we went for another day. Both horses were pleasant moving out - pulling, but not hysterically. But Batman was very upset about being left. He would pull his spring tie as far as it would go in each direction trying to see his friends (the only friends he had left in the world...) as they were leaving. Hollering, and we just hoped everything would hold. ...more





pre-ride

The trailer is packed, saddles-pads-tack everything sorted, cleaned and neatly hanging on hooks and racks and stacked and sorted. That should last at least 30 minutes or so after we arrive! We're leaving in the morning, caravaning with our Scottsdale AZ friends Rusty and Kevin (and Rocky and Far and Redford). We have lots of leftovers from Kevin's incredible Christmas day Beef Wellington, and Rusty made turkey soup (from Thanskgiving leftovers) and we have plenty of other goodies. I don't think we'll go hungry.

John installed our new trailer ties (the Ride 'n Tie spring tie) and hopefully our horses will adapte to them quickly :) Plus I have one horse, Batman, going w/o shoes - using the Easyboot Gloves. I feel like one of the Multiday Gang! Our other two horses (Jaziret and Sunny) are still shod. I might try pulling their shoes when we get back... the footing here in Scottsdale is so perfect for the transition from shoes to barefoot. I'm still leary of going w/o steel shoes because of the hassle of putting on and taking off boots, and losing boots, and glue on boots, and all that stuff. But it's pretty logical that keeping a foot unshod is conducive to better hoof health with the right management. we'll see!!

So off we go in the morning. I'm going to try to ride all 4 days on Jaziret (one day at a time!). He's 18 now, we'll be a decade team if I get a completion with him this year, and he has around 4200 miles - many of those fast FEI rides - he's been quite the horse! He still seems to love going down the trai, still sound and healthy. We'll see! John will probably trade off on our two six yr olds Sunny (half Shagya mare) and Batman (newly acquired very cool black beasty horse).

That's the plan :) If we can get on Dave's internet I'll try to post updates during the ride.

later-
Steph


Day 1
John and I had a really good ride - here's a little summary of the week:

Sunday - travel from Scottsdale to first base camp outside of Johannesburg, California. We semi-caravanned (connected via IPhones) with Kevin and Rusty, taking the southern route - I-10 from Phoenix across Arizona and California. Long drive, too many stops looking for an RV dump, propane, last minute stuff, traffic outside the LA basin, long drive...

Finally made it to camp, Lucy had saved us a parking spot, Kevin and Rusty were already set up and helped us as it was getting dark. We had just bought and installed 3 springties (Ride 'N Ties) for the horses, this was our maiden voyage w/o portable corrals. They were GREAT - so much simpler than unloading and setting up corrals, the horses had no issues with being tied on a long rope from above. Batman (our new big beasty black horse with a sense of humor) seemed to enjoy the sproingy sound of stretching and releasing the spring. into the night... And the second day that we left him alone he managed to extend the spring and rod all the way around from one corner of the trailer to the other so that he could poke his nose around looking for his buddies who were leaving him! He's a funny horse, tons of personality. We eventually figured out a good feeding and watering system (Batman had managed to poop in his water bucket no matter where we put it) so that we minimized hay waste and hassle for the horses.

Monday - Day 1 was a big loop out of camp with 2 stops at a vetcheck near the RR crossing. We rode out of camp and through a very charming little town (Randsburg) with very artsy (California hippie artsy) yards and houses and shacks and bus-abodes and a cute cafe and Opera House. My horse (Jaziret aka Rhett, as in "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn") was full of himself - strong and pulling every step, head high, tail high, I felt like I was riding a pogo stick... all day). John's horse Sunny was also strong and forward, but she never pulls... she may jig and dance a little but is very light in the mouth.

We hand walked most of the long downhill from Randsburg, past the fenced off toxic arsenic poisoned area (lovely remnant of the use of arsenic to extract gold from the mined rock) and arrived at the vetcheck to see a very worried Kevin, and a missing Rusty. Rusty's little dynamite horse Rocky had spooked coming under the crackly power lines, the saddle slipped, Rusty lost a stirrup and came off with the second spook and Rocky took off into the desert with the saddle slipping under his belly. Rusty was out there searching for Rocky... When they were finally sighted on the horizon Kevin rode out to meet them, and a very dejected Rusty finally made it into camp. Rocky was bloodied and bruised from hooking his hind foot in the stirrup - and it looked pretty bad. Rusty and Rocky trailered back to camp, Kevin went on to finish the ride, but both he and his horse Far were pretty sad as they headed out...

John and I left together with Kevin, but our horses were pulling (Rhett) and jigging (Sunny) and I was determined to do the first day VERY SLOWLY with our wooly Idaho horses (and really hoping to do all 4 days with Rhett) so we let them go on ahead and did a lot of walking to settle them down. It was a very scenic loop - ups and downs and arounds and rock formations and a long sandy wash. The sun came out in the afternoon and it was almost warm!

Back to the vetcheck for a 45 minute hold, back to camp (Rhett was still way strong) - finished, (I was exhausted from holding my horse back all day) took care of the horses and had dinner with Rusty and Kevin. They would head back in the morning and take Rocky to a vet for scans to see if there was any serious damage. Nice dinner, plenty of wine, a good release from the tense day.

more later,

Steph


Day 2 Day 2
Day 2 - I went out again on Rhett, and John rode Batman. Rhett started out nice and mellow, a welcome change from the previous day. I think it had something to do with leaving his girlfriend back in camp, but whatever - it was nice to feel him moving out like a horse instead of like a pogo stick. However John had his hands full with the Bat. Poor fellow had just left his home and friends in Idaho a few weeks earlier - to hop into our trailer and come down to the land of saguaro cactus and howling coyotes, then take a long trailer trip to California and be left tied to the trailer for 32 hours while his new and only friends Sunny and Rhett left him behind, and then be asked to move out nice and easy on a cold crisp morning.

The Bat is a very nice guy and really wants to do the right thing, but he's also very big and strong, and a he's a horse godsakes :) He was starting to settle into a nice walk/trot pace when I got worried about his boots. We're doing the barefoot - easyboot gloves thing with him - my first experience w/o steel shoes and of course I wanted to make sure they were on tight, not rubbing, etc. So brilliant me suggested we get off in the wash and I could adjust the gators, check the fit etc. Everything was fine, but while I was fiddling with Batman, Rhett realized he was out in the desert without his girlfriend and only this big black beast for company and he started getting a wee agitated. So Bat decided maybe he wasn't feeling better after all and we had two fireballs on our hands.

If Batman were fit, and I wasn't concerned about managing Rhett through 4 days we could have just let them move out for a while and let them get tired enough to settle down on their own. But we were in a deep sand wash, and I was determined to 'go slow' so we worked out a walk/trot system that got us through the first loop more or less. We had a pretty good hill to climb, up the road to the communications tower, and were doing pretty good though I never could release my grip on the reins at a trot. This day was two loops, each time going back to camp. NOT a good recipe for these horses on this day. Once we started back towards camp, and back down off the mountain, it was a constant battle for both of us. Bat was feeding off of Rhett's manic state, and Rhett was thinking only of home, and Sunny.

He started hollering for Sunny as soon as camp was in sight, she started hollering back and it was quite the silly scene. We had to take her with us over to the timer to get his pulse down. Bat pulsed right away - he's actually pretty amazing considering his size and fitness (not) level. An hour hold and back out we went, and more of the same for 25 miles. Not too bad heading away from camp, bad bad bad heading back in. Rhett took longer to pulse again, and he looked totally wiped out. I was considering taking the next day off.

We had to move camp that night - from where we were outside of Ridgecrest, to the little town of Ballarat in the Panamint Valley. A lot of work packing up, finally on the road after dark, an hour drive up and over the Slate Range, and into camp just in time to set up our horses (hooray for the trailer ties!!) and make it to the ride meeting. I still hadn't decided about riding - I was whooped too from fighting my horse all day. But signed up and figured I'd decide in the morning. John would take Sunny out again, she was looking fresh and rested.

more in a bit -
Steph


Day 3 & 4
Day 3 - I felt tons better in the morning, and Rhett was looking pretty good too - moving easy and nice and bouncy. So - off we went for another day. Both horses were pleasant moving out - pulling, but not hysterically. But Batman was very upset about being left. He would pull his spring tie as far as it would go in each direction trying to see his friends (the only friends he had left in the world...) as they were leaving. Hollering, and we just hoped everything would hold.

We had a 10 mile loop up and around a mountain trail - very rocky, we walked almost all of it. But beautiful - morning sun coming up over the alkali lake, a few different herds of wild burros - one group ran right across the trail in front of us. Sunny was not too pleased with that. We rode back by camp and then out across the valley to the south range. It was a pretty slow and tedious day for us - very rocky and our horses weren't padded so we just took our time and enjoyed the panoramic views. The afternoon light was absolutely stunning - blue sky, the sun was strong but low in the winter sky casting long purple shadows. Very special.

Back to camp, Rhett looked great, I felt good and it seemed that we had another day in us both! John decided to not ride the next day, he'd move the rig instead since we had to go over to Valley Wells, back across the Slate Range, and set up a new camp for the finish at the 'resort' where we'd have a room for dinner and awards.

Day 4 - I set off alone the next morning and had a perfectly splendid 30 mile ride into camp. We rode a couple hours across the flats around the alkali lake - perfect footing, riding into the sunrise, sweeping valley to the north, mountain range drawing nearer to the south - Rhett was forward and eager but not pulling too hard. just perfect. We picked up a rocky single track trail and crossed the mountains. Great trail - windy single track up down and around, across talus slopes, over rocky ledges, the flat valley receding to the south. We crossed over the mountains, and dropped down into the Trona valley on the other side. Rhett had been there before, and knew exactly where he was and once the footing got better and we started moving out again, he was full of it - pulling - but not as bad as before. He started calling to Sunny a few miles out, poor beast - it did make me laugh tho!

An hour hold and we left for our last 25 mile loop. Rhett took off at a gallop - he must have know this was it. What a feeling... He was pretty 'awful' for the first ten miles, and the jarring pace was killing my foot (I think I have a neuroma in the ball of my foot). I finally got off and walked him for a mile and he got over it and so did my throbbing foot. The rest of the ride was perfect. We met up with a few other riders, and had a lovely tour beside the ice caves - a spectacular formation of granite rocks, with a cold spring waterfall, and another herd of burrows - 15 or so in varying assortments of grays and blacks, their ears large and erect as they tried to figure out if we were friend or foe. Back towards camp, we settled into a strong walk about a mile out and rolled into camp as happy as can be! Pulsed down quickly, looked great at the finish exam and woohoo! we did it!

:)
Steph
p.s. many thanks to Dave and Annie and all of the people that helped make this ride possible!!


message from Dave Nicholson:

We continue to work on the routes to improve the overall ride experience. As many of you know, we spent a great deal of time last winter in an attempt to run the ride through Death Valley as it was done in the beginning. The major hurdle that we were never able to overcome was that a flood destroyed the old campsite at Furnace Creek and a stream now runs through the area. Additionally, the Native Americans, who have lived at Furnace Creek since ancient times have taken over that area and are unwilling to allow us to camp there. The Park Service would be willing to allow us to camp there with horses but not with vehicles, so we finally were forced to give up on the idea. There is some good news however. We were able to find the original single-track trail that Manley and Rogers took out of the valley via Arrastre Spring. We also found a trail around the ice in South Park so that we will be able to make a loop into the Panamints when weather permits. There is little chance of that happening this year the storms during last weekend dumped a lot of snow at the higher elevations. The most obvious change last year was moving the base camp for the first day from the dusty dry lake on Garlock Road to a much better camp about five miles north of Red Mountain/Johannesburg. The new site at 35°25.687’ N, 117°35.579’ W is large, flat and just off the pavement on a very good dirt road. The area is protected by hills and soil not prone to creating the dust bowls we have been forced to deal with on Garlock Road. We will use this camp again this year. You are welcome to camp anywhere on the desert before the ride. The only place that you can’t stay before the ride is at the final camp at Valley Wells. In fact, no one is allowed to camp, stop by or even mention that we are going to be at Valley Wells until the afternoon that we get there. Absolutely no one is allowed on that premises until after noon on December 31st. We are changing the format of the ride so that this will be a better logistic solution for every one.

The first day is a loop ride and will be very similar to the last year’s event. The second day starts from the same camp and uses a completely new and scenic trail around Laurel Mountain that loops back to camp for lunch and an LD finish. After lunch the fifty-mile trail will also loop back to the same camp so that riders will be able to move their own rigs after the ride to the new camp. At the end of the ride, we will move camp to Ballarat instead of Valley Wells. At Ballarat we use a loop trail on the third day that brings us back to the camp in Ballarat. We are working on a really great trail for that third day but a lot will depend on the weather between now and ride day. On the fourth day we will ride from Ballarat back to Valley Wells using most of the Rogers & Manley Escape Route. We eliminated the brutal jeep road through the Slate Range used in previous years by using the ETI single-track trail through the range. This was a big improvement from past years and we will now improve that route even more by altering the second half of the ride. This year the only point to point ride will be on the last day and we will make every attempt to help you find a driver or give you a ride back to pick up your own rig. These changes allow us to once again have the traditional New Year’s Eve party in the well-lit and warm Valley Wells Club House. The changes have resulted in lowered prices for the party as well as offering a friendlier atmosphere as well as reducing the wear and tear on vehicles when we used the old Indian Ranch site. We will supply garbage bags for cleaning camps but we ask that you bring necessary tools for cleaning your camp so that we don’t have to charge for cleaning services. This year we will feed all the people with reservations before we allow others to eat. Please request a driver for your rig in advance as well so that we can have enough people lined up. You can email your request for a driver to duck@xprides.com. Complimentary hot soup, fruit and candy bars will be available at the lunch stops. Last year there were so few people wanting dinners that Ann has decided not to prepare evening meals except on New Year’s Eve. However she has never let anyone go hungry, so if you are terribly inconvenienced by the lack of dinners you are welcome to eat with our family and workers on two conditions. The first is that you let her know in advance by email to annie@xprides.com and second that you eat when we eat, which is usually after the awards and meeting.

Pre-ride, as well as other useful information, including directions to daily camps and veterinary information is available at http://www.sunriseranchrides.com/DeathValley.html and http://www.xprides.com/VeterinaryPre-RideInformation.html We encourage you to take a look at the links on these websites, which will be updated by in the days before the ride. For those of you concerned about getting into the campsite for the beginning of the ride we have some very specific information. There is now a way to take a look before you get there. Go to Google Earth, type in Red Mountain, CA. The highway through town turns northwest north of town. You will then see a paved road turning north. Follow this road and watch the GPS coordinates as you move the cursor along the highway. When you get to 35°25.707 x 117°35.486 you will be at the camp entrance. West of the road is a light colored area with a lot of roads coming into it. Now if you play with the tilt and rotation and zoom in and out you can get a good look at the campsite and the surrounding territory. If you have never taken a trip on Google Earth, you will be amazed. If you don’t have Google Earth on your computer you can download it at http://earth.google.com/ for free. If you are on a dial up internet connection its not much fun but its like riding in a helicopter with faster connections. Now you can go spy on that guy up the street who won’t let you ride through his property. Make sure you set your preferences for Google Earth to degrees, decimal minutes.

GPS coordinates for Day 1 and Start Day 2 Camp: 35°25.687’ N, 117°35.579’ W
GPS coordinates for turn off for Day 2 Camp. 36° 2.180’ N, 117°16.903’ W
GPS coord for Day 2 End Camp, Day 3 Camp and Day 4 start camp: 36° 2.919’ N x 117° 13.533’ W
GPS coord for turn into Day 4 End Camp: 35° 49.719’ N x 117° 20.306’ W

We look forward to seeing you soon,

Merry Christmas, The Duck Gang