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2021 Spanish Peaks Pioneer

2017 AERC National Championships

2017 AERC Nat'l Chammpionships
Images by Merri Melde

2017 AERC Nat'l Chammpionships
Images by Merri Melde


2021 & 2022 Ride photos by Merri Melde

Spanish Peaks Pioneer - June 26-30

Before the ride

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Whole Hog Hootenanny & Awards!

The Spanish Peaks Pioneer is June 18-22, 2022. Ride camp opens Tuesday. Location: SoCo Endurance Spanish Peaks Ride Camp. Five days of riding, (Saturday – Wednesday) with fun/intro rides, LDs & 50s all days. The middle day also offers a 55-mile option for any horse-rider teams going for a “pioneer,” giving many options for 155-mile pioneer completions (days 1-2-3, 2-3-4, or days 3-4-5,) on top of the even more challenging 4 and 5 day pioneer options. CORRECTION! AERC will only allow 1 Pioneer ride per event from now on, therefor our only Pioneer option is days 1-2-3. We are very excited to be hosting the SoCo Limited Distance Championship, Ride & Tie, and Equathon during this event! Day 3 vet check is OUT, as the trail will take you “over the wall.” (All other vet checks are IN. We will host our traditional Whole Hog Hootenanny, with live music, on Wednesday evening. For those coming for the whole event (Spanish Peaks Pioneer + Wahatoya Cup,) Thursday is our day of rest, and then vet-in for the Wahatoya Cup will be Friday (see below for more WC details.) There will be overall, multi-day achievements recognized for all distances ridden cumulatively. Start times LDs-7:30am, 50s-7:00am, Fun rides start after 8am and are totally flexible.

The Trail

This is a true representation of the Southern Colorado Rockies and I don’t intend to butter that up for you. If you are worried about it being too challenging or technical, then ride the LD, I will make sure the LD is geared back so that inexperienced riders and horses can enjoy a less challenging but equally beautiful ride. The awesome geology around here makes for diverse terrain, with lots of climbs and descents as well as a few flat easy miles to cruise on. There will be some brief technical stretches to keep you entertained, so dismount when prompted if you are nervous. As for the longer distances (50+ miles) yes, this will be a challenging ride interspersed with technical stretches that will slow you down, so be smart with your pacing, make up time on the easy stuff and take your time in the tough stuff. I have designed the loops to mix it up, nice easy fast stretches interspersed with slow challenging climbs, descents, and fun technical stuff to keep you awake and give you something to write home about. The scenery is truly unbeatable, the ride camp setting is gorgeous, and as I said, the trails are diverse, with footing varying from flat, canterable-sandy-loam, to steep, walk-it-rocky. The land we are riding across is cattle country – there will be gates. I’m doing my best to minimize the number of gates, and improve the functionality of the ones we must keep closed. There is ample water on the trail, mostly cow tanks but also natural streams and ponds. Altitude: Camp is at >8000′ and the ride will range from 7000′ to a little over 9000′. Please feel free to give us constructive comments, advice, and recommendations, we’re doing our best for you!

2021 Spanish Peaks 5-Day Pioneer Pictographic

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
July 1 2021

The twin Spanish Peaks are the story here. Tennessee’s annual Spanish Peaks ride (multiday, and in 2017 site of the AERC National Championship) take place below the twin peaks). Called “Huajatolla” by the Comanches, they were named a National Natural Landmark in 1976 with their igneous dikes - or walls - radiating down the mountains, one of which the riders get to ride through.

Not many Ridecamps are situated at 8000’!

The Colorado weather keeps you guessing: clouds, sun, rain, hail, thunderstorms, fog, sun, warm, hot, cool, cold, sometimes all in one day!

Riders came from far and wide - as far as South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia - but it was local Colorado Young Rider Cassadee Jaksch who won the first 3 days of 50s (tying for first on day 1 with Vicki Holzer and Erin Lemmons, tying with Christoph Schork on day 2).

Winners and prizes and swag, oh my!

Riding through The Wall (which is a super treat, as these walls are all on private property, and Tennessee has special permission to do this!)

80-year-old Earl Baxter rode 205 miles (4 days of 50s, on 2 different horses, this mare of which many of us covet), finishing in the top ten every day!

Debi and Debbie finished all 5 days of LDs!

Two guy Gail/Gayles rode together on day 5 - what are the odds of that!

Today's a day off, then it's the 2-day Wahatoya Cup!