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40th Annual Fire Mountain Endurance Ride

30, 50


2019 Fire Mountain - Nina Bomar

January 13 2019

It was bitterly cold and I had so many layers on that I looked like a woman in a moon suit. One expensive jacket after the next yet I couldn’t warm up.

I was a few minutes late to the start and it seemed as if everyone had already left. Cheeky and I quietly moseyed out of camp, called out our number and we were off. I pretended I wasn’t freezing but I found myself constantly fidgeting with all the layers, scarves, hoods and zippers. The morning started off with a wet mist that graduated quickly to a cold rain, accompanied by a frigid wind that seemed to cut through all that I was wearing.

Cheeky was feeling frisky and he had a good pace going on, which would bring us back to camp for the first vet check nice and early. He pulsed down quickly, we vetted through and everything went smoothly. Juan accidentally slept through it all and when he heard us outside the trailer, he came out frantically knowing that he’d blown it. I threw a few blankets on Cheeky, made sure he had plenty of food and then huddled in the tack room and tried to get warm. Juan quickly made me a hot coffee, while the hold time passed by quickly and we were soon back out on trail.

The second loop had more rain, and cold air but Juan was ready and waiting for us this time when we arrived back at camp. It was to be the 1 hour lunch hold and by then we had already completed 30 miles of trail with only 20 more to go. I was frozen like a popsicle. The rain was coming down steadily and we didn’t talk much. I added a rain poncho and rain pants on top of everything else and that helped to warm me up.

The final loop was long but Cheeky handled it like a champ. For the first few miles he protested and seemed rather incredulous that I was asking for more under such dire weather conditions. He complained loudly for the first few miles and then he gave in and went to work with the strength and forwardness that he’s known for. I loved our time together.

This morning Juan made me some coffee and now he’s warming up my gloves like they’re tortillas. We are not desert rats but instead beach bums... The air here is so harsh that it feels like opening up a freezer door and then taking a big inhale. It’s time to head home after a wonderful weekend at the Fire Mountain Endurance Ride. We give many thanks to ride management, all the wonderful veterinarians and the many volunteers who without their efforts, we would not have this amazing sport of endurance riding.

This morning Juan made me some coffee and now he’s warming up my gloves like they’re tortillas. We are not desert rats but instead beach bums... The air here is so harsh that it feels like opening up a freezer door and then taking a big inhale. It’s time to head home after a wonderful weekend at the Fire Mountain Endurance Ride. We give many thanks to ride management, all the wonderful veterinarians and the many volunteers who without their efforts, we would not have this amazing sport of endurance riding.


Fire Mountain

Base Camp: Base C amp opens at 11:00am on Friday, January 13 , 20 17 . It is locate d at the corner of San Bernardino Rd (aka County Line Rd) and Springer St.(double electrical pole line along the road), southeast of Ridgecrest, California. It is the site of the Valley Riders Equestrian Center and is currently undeveloped so camping is pr imitive (no electricity). There are accommodations, grocery stores and gas close by. Potable water will be provided. Porta Potties will be available. Base camp is at 2,500 feet .

Trailers are available for rent , go to hidesert trailerrntls.com . Their winter location is less than ½ mile from base camp and they set up in advance .

Horse pens are available for rent. $10 per night.

Check In: Pre - Veterinary check - in will be on Friday, January 15 , 20 16 from 3: 00 PM to 6:00 PM at Base Camp. All horses should be checked in and numbered by Friday evening. Riders who will be late, please call 775 - 376 - 6318 to set up a check - in time. Office op ens at 1 :00 PM.

Ride Meeting/Start Times: The pre - ride meeting will be he ld at Base Camp at 6:00 PM. All riders must start within 30 minutes after their designated start time – 6:30 AM for 50 - m iler; 7:00 AM for 30 - miler and 9 :00 AM for the introductory ride. (Subject to change at the ride meeting.)

The Trail: Riders will trav el on trails and dirt roads in the foothills of Rademacher Mountains southeast of Ridgecrest with all loops starting and ending at base camp. Hay will be provided at all vet checks and at some water stops. This trail is considered moderate and considered g ood for beginners with some mild climbs offering a great view of the Indian Wells Valley. You will be riding on Bureau of Land Management trails. NO SMOKING ON THE TRAIL.

Awards, Food and Fees: Ride Dinner will be approximatel y 5:00 - 7:00 PM Saturday and from 4 to 7 PM Sunday. Awards will be presented at base camp after d inner for the 30 and 50 milers. A ll riders completing will receive a completion a ward . Awards will be presented to top ten , first place in each weight category , 1 st junior , and BC for 5 0 and 30 milers . Entry fee includes the ride, vet exams, AERC fees, drug test fees, BLM land use fees, water and hay for the horses during the ride, awards and rider’s dinner. Extra dinners for crews or family will be available for $12.

Ride Rules: This is an AERC sanctioned ride and all rules will be enforced. See AERC rules at aerc.org 1. Juniors must wear an ASTM/SEI approved helmet.
2. There will be no ties.
3. The same horse and rider must pass all control points and stay on the marked trail in order to qual ify for awards and completion credit.
4. Any top ten finishers of the 50 or 30 mile ride who want to be considered for Best Condition must present their horse for the Best Condition examination within the time frame announced by the head vet.
5. Loose dogs in ca mp may result in rider disqualification. Please ensure your dogs are on a leash or kept within your rig.
6. Any abusive behavior or violation of any rule by a rider or associated crew will be subject to disciplinary action (i.e., disqualification and/or being asked to leave by ride management or a vet).
7. All horses must meet a pulse of 6 0 beats per minute within thirty minutes of crossing the finish line in order to meet Fit To Continue criteria and remain eligible for completion or placing.
8. Riders are respon sible for keeping track of their vet cards.
9. A $20 fee will be added when entering ride on or after January 15 2016.

INTRODUCTORY RIDE: (will be discussed at the pre - ride meeting – Saturday only )
1. Pre - ride and post ride vet checks are required for com pletion.
2. This is not a race and no timings or placings will be given, just completion awards.
3. No AERC membership fee is required for the 15 mile introductory ride.
4. Juniors can ride for the same nominal fee but must wear an ASTM helmet whenever mounted and be accompanied at all times by their adult sponsor.
5. Dinner is included will the introductory ride


2015 Fire Mountain: Confessions of a First Time Ride Manager

Friday January 23 2015
by Merri Melde

Not too many ‘Green Bean’ Ride Managers have jumped head-first into managing an established 2-day endurance ride, where everybody already has a certain level of expectations. But then, most people aren’t Gretchen Montgomery. A long-time endurance rider based in the Pacific South region with over 8400 miles, and newly-minted Decade Team with her horse Definetly Spice (formerly known somewhat affectionately as “Bitchy Spice”), the effervescent, personable high achiever is not one to turn away from a challenge.

Gretchen's many years of volunteering at the Eastern High Sierra Classic, Fire Mountain, Washoe, and Virginia City 100 rides, alternately as trail marker, vet secretary, finish line timer, and pulse-taker, built the foundation and confidence for stepping up into her new role as Ride Manager. "I’ve really wanted to take over the Eastern High Sierra Classic (in Bridgeport, California, in late summer) because that’s my home territory, and Jackie (Bumgardner) is ready to pass it on after 29 years, and I wanted that ride to continue," Gretchen explains. "And in the meantime, the Fire Mountain Ride Manager (Valerie Rogers) wanted to give the Fire Mountain ride up, but that’s been a long-standing ride too. So since they needed a Ride Manager this year, I volunteered.” The Fire Mountain ride takes place outside of Ridgecrest, California, in the Mojave Desert, where Gretchen spends her winters.

Recently retired from 25 years with the state of California, Gretchen’s previous job of Office Services Supervisor for the California Highway Patrol in Bridgeport brought her organizational skills into play as she was kept uber-busy with last minute on-line entries to avoid late fees, last minute entries at the ride venue (where no internet was available), checking AERC registrations, keeping track of 114 riders over 2 distances and 2 days, making changes for riders wanting to switch horses, or switch distances, or switch horses and distances, running back and forth to fill in as a vet secretary, checking on the in- and out-timers, helping with P & R’s, doing general maintenance, helping the ham radio volunteers to find an injured horse on trail, and playing the banjo. Playing the banjo? ... “I was a little crazy!” Gretchen laughs.

Managing the ride was made easier by excellent and numerous volunteers, particularly the Valley Riders club, a group of varied horse people from the area established in the 1960's. "This particular ride has soooo many volunteers, and I didn’t have to worry about the trail being marked, because there was already somebody in charge of that. I didn’t have to worry about setting out water, because somebody was already in charge of that. I didn’t even have to worry about the food, because one of the members of Valley Riders was all about cooking, and our facility has an actual kitchen right here at basecamp. So this was really good for my first time managing a ride - since this was the 36th year, people know what they're doing..."

Read more here.