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Images by
Lynne Glazer

Images by
Lynne Glazer

Images by
Lynne Glazer

2008 Swanton Pacific Results




2008 Swanton Pacific
- by Melissa Margetts

I just arrived back home from my 2,800 mile round trip trailer ride to and from the Swanton Pacific ride. I wanted to write a thank you email before I do anything else. I haven't taken a shower in a week and I stink like a goat, uhh, I mean horse. I DO normally love the smell of "au de cabayo" and once I've washed my hair and scrubbed up real good,

I'm still planning on going back outside and burying my nose in my brave paso finos mane and giving him another good-night hug for a job well done. The Swanton Pacific ride was one that I had wanted to do for a while and I am sooo happy that I was able to experience it before it came to an end.

Barbara, Lud and her crew of volunteers, family and helpers did an AMAZING job. From the detailed trail description and markings to the warm, helpful and friendly and faces that greeted you at every stop with anything you could possibly need for yourself or your horse, it was all provided.

The attention to every detail was something I hadn't experienced at very many rides. Lud even gave a little botany lesson at the ride meeting for those of us who had never seen poison oak or stinging nettles. He even had fresh picked visual examples that he was HOLDING up to show us. ( He was literally holding it up bare handed saying "Don't touch this!" I still didn't get that part. I guess that it's poison doesn't affect everyone or Luds decades of working in the stuff has rendered him impervious to its effects.)

There were even gate openers sitting in their chairs under blankets out in the middle of nowhere on the trail all night just to open and close some of the gates. Communication in dead cell service areas didn't prevent the ATV and truck posse from getting to lost riders or ride-and-tie ers to get them found and back on the trails along with offerings of coffee and cookies no less. I was very impressed with it all.

Listening to Barbara was impressive as well. I hadn't met her until then though we had exchanged emails before. Geeze Louise, she gave a downright scary declaration at the ride meeting about proper gate etiquette for those who might not know it. I doubt if there is a rider who attended that ride meeting who will EVER go through a gate and keep riding while leaving the dismounted gate opener behind ever again. I recognized a known violator or two flush to grey and then a fine shade of red during her "no-nonsense tolerated" warning. You KNEW that if she had heard that an offense like that happened, she would personally wrap the violators testicles around their ears. She reminded me of my long gone grandmother who could wup you upside the head faster than you could weave and duck if she heard you sass, forget your manners or not say "yes Ma am" or "No Ma am" when addressing an adult. I distinctly remember when she beaned me with dead-on accuracy with a crab apple from across the pasture, when she saw that there were three of us kids riding on her thirty two year old sway-backed horse named Penny.

Riding double was fine, but she swiftly and effectively eliminated the third rider (me) with the arm of a Major League pitcher. She didn't tolerate complainers, whiners, or not following the rules. She expected you to pull up your "big girl panties", behave and always use your "God-given common sense". She was tougher than nails, no-nonsense but fair and expected the same out of others. Barbara is the same way.

Anyway, I digress. The ride was tough, beautiful, well run and if you didn't get around to putting the Swanton ride on your bucket-list of things to do, It's your loss now. It will be sorely missed. Thank you again to Barbara and Lud for having put 2/3rds of their life into this ride for all of us to have experienced and enjoyed. Now go take a rest (HA!)

If you're not livin on the edge, you're takin up too much space!

Melissa Margetts
Telluride Colorado
(970)728-4275

Swanton Pacific 100 - August 16, 2008 by Kathy Sherman


Just in case you were wondering how I spent my weekend...

I woke up Sat at 4:34am, 30 min late, didn't hear the alarm or didn't set it properly. I quickly pulled on ride clothes, ate yogurt, downed a meal in a can while saddling up, and was up in the saddle by 5:20 with my camp neighbor, Jill Carr, mounted on her good mule, Walker. We passed by Lauretta Ward on Shaba and invited her to join us. We arrived in time to start when the bell was sounded. Not too long into the ride we heard there had been yellow jackets at the top of the first hill the previous day, but it was still dark so I wasn't too worried until I felt the sharp pain hit my arm. Only one sting, not too bad, Sonny wasn't stung and we just kept trotting. We were with Robin and her group at this point and leapfrogged often until they finally jumped ahead somewhere around 30 or 40 miles.

We also leapfrogged with the single completing ride&tie team, Frank Lieberman and another tall fellow whose name I can't remember. Those runners are incredible! We asked Frank's partner how he was doing at about 60 miles, he said he wasn't in his body. I've heard that before from extreme athletes. He was lost temporarily, but showed up at the 92 mile check point, thought he was finished, but Frank insisted he get back in the saddle and the entire crew cheered him on to chase us down (we'd left just before him). He didn't catch up, but they did finish.

The trails were beautiful, mostly good footing, the logging roads were hard and we had to trot most of them to make time and it didn't take long before I had shin splints for the first time in my life. I was so happy that Sonny had boots on for protection. When we got to the first hour hold at 35 miles, Sonny and the others in our group drank and ate well. I had to trot Sonny out twice, they thought they saw something when he went down a dip in the uneven ground, nothing before or after that, so he was good to go. Lauretta's horse was maybe a bit off at the same dip (duh), but the next section would be done slower due to terrain, so he was allowed to go on. I have a hard time leaving vet checks on time, that cost us 10-15 min a few times during the ride, but Sonny and Walker were always eating during this time so I don't think I'd do it any differently.

Leaving late, we tackled the next section of trail. There were steeper climbs and we slow jogged or walked letting our mounts choose the pace and not pushing them. No reason to since we weren't in the race for top 10, right? We reached the next 15 min check, 49 miles, and Shaba was now also a little stiff on the hind, so was pulled. Jill & I continued on, again getting out late, but Sonny & Walker appreciated the extra eating time. They also both had rechecks on their gut sounds, so the extra food was important. We had been letting them stop to eat whenever there was tasty grass along the trail, so the low gut sounds was confusing.

There was still lots of slight downgrade that had to be trotted IF we wanted to be able to let the horses pick a slower pace on the long, long, sometimes steep climbs. Even a slow jog (downhill) was killing my shins, but it had to be done. I kept shifting my weight around, trying to find a comfortable position and keep the shins from getting worse. During one of these long gradual downgrades we passed and then played leapfrog with husband and wife team, Renee and ??? Norris, both of whom were also suffering from shin splints. When we got to the next hour hold at 66 miles, Cascade Ranch, husband's horse wasn't pulsing down, so they pulled and Renee asked if she could ride with Jill and I, since we were now the last riders to go out. We prepared for the night, put on warmer clothes, rump rugs, glow sticks, and were cheered out of the vet check, with the drag riders, locals Dominique and Noel.

It was another 5 mile steady, but fortunately not really steep climb, Sonny lead with his easy to ride jog, while Walker and Diva (Renee's horse) would walk, trot to catch up, walk, trot to catch up... it seemed to go on for hours. The drag riders were close behind us, giving us verbal clues about the trail as they were locals and knew every turn on the trail. The trail glow sticks were few and far between used only to guide turns and danger spots (red ones). Sonny continued to lead the entire way in the dark. We went down steep steep slippery trail (due to loose granite or course sand) that seemed to go forever. Walker and Diva had saddle slipping problems and we had to stop several times for tack adjustments, sometimes on steep grades, but there was just no going any further with the saddles way up on the withers. I am so glad that Sonny wears a crupper and it keeps the saddle from having to be adjusted. Still on this same steep downhill grade, but now on a switchback type trail and under the dark tree canopy, Sonny decided that since he was the lead horse he could decide when it was time to stop and eat. He would just dive off the trail and drag his nose until he found a bite. The drag riders wanted us to keep moving, but Sonny insisted. I allowed him to eat a little to make him happy before insisting he stay on trail. Did I mention that we couldn't see the trail? Anyway, after we finally reached the bottom, crossed a creek, there was another good grazing spot and all the horses and Walker gobbled as much as they could in about 10 minutes and then we were on flat ground for a while til we reached the 82 mile Sawmill vet check, which was also a 45 min hold. We got there at 11:30, left at 12:30, had to do a 2nd gut sound check on Sonny after he ate more.

Noel and Dominique continued on as the drag riders from here. This time they'd stay further behind, pulling ribbons and glow sticks. The trail was easier now, but the horses and Walker weren't quite sure we should be trotting, so we let them lollygag along. IF (that's a big IF) I had known that the lack of enthusiasm was for sure due to them not knowing where we were, and no cvhance of it being fatigue, we could have done this section in about half the time that we did it in. That's okay though, none of us were sure if it was mental or physical reluctance so we decided as a group to let them plod along. I have no idea what time we reached the 91 mile, Swanton vet check, but I knew we still had plenty of time even if we walked the rest of the trail, which we pretty much did. We were at the VC sometime around 2:20am, stayed 'til the horses were tru eating again, the left, the ride and tie team leaving just behind us.

Into the dark dark night we rode and onto the long long steep climb up a dark cliff trail. The gentle glow of the sticks helps with equilibrium I think. I worried on this section of trail that it glow might interfere with our horses' vision though. About a mile of this trail is along a cliff, at least there were trees below to break a fall. When we moved away from the cliff it was darker still and I got disoriented a few times, even with the glow sticks. The forest trail was difficult even for Sonny to follow in a couple of places because the soft underfooting hid the trail. We could see a glow stick (sometimes) far up the hill, but couldn't see where the trail was to reach that point. This happened about 4 times, but it only took a couple/few minutes each time to get back on the trail and we'd continue the climb... up and up and up, a total of 2 miles, at a slow walk in blackness, seemed to last forever. Finally we started down again, no more climbing up for the rest of the ride. It was incredibly dark and Sonny did an awesome job of leading the group down the very dark twisty trail. I offered several times to give up the lead, but neither Jill nor Renee were interested in the position. We eventually reached a spot where both Sonny and Walker recognized that we were going back to camp and they picked up their pace and attitude ( so it was mental and not physical exhaustion earlier). We scooted past Robin and Janine during this time, only to lose the trail again, but only briefly when Janine yelled at us which way to go. Into the deep darkness, Sonny was confident (we'd preridden some of this Friday) and jogged most of the way down the narrow forest trail, down, down, down for a couple miles I think, then we hit the bottom and it was just a short ride back into camp. We came upon a lone rider, Scott, doing his first 100. His horse was moving slowly, probably because they were alone, so he dropped in with us and the four of us walked briskly into camp.

Sonny wouldn't hold still for the vet check, he just wanted to eat and there was grass there. Once trot out, he was good. A few As and a few Bs, can't remember on what, but he was happy to be back and ate and ate and ate, then slept.

The horse that had pulled at the finish was still stiff the next day. It was a Paso Fino, had had a long trailer ride all the way from Colorado, had been the first Paso Fino to complete Tevis (in '07 I think), and had completed Big Horn this year.

Well, Tevis has 17,000 of elevation gain, Swanton has 9935, at least according to the altimeter that was strapped to my saddle. The weather at Swanton was extremely horse friendly, low 70s, humidity great. IMO, the "harder" part of Swanton, is having to do lots of climbing so late into the ride, and possibly not having as many gate and gos with food and water for the horses and riders. I didn't have Sonny as ready for Swanton as he had been for Tevis last year and our completion time was nearly the same. I "think" that if I'd had him primed for Swanton, it may have been slightly easier or at least a little faster ride, at least with the perfect weather conditions that we had. Ride strategy had to be different to deal with the long steep climbs after the horses had already gone so far. I also want to mention that we rode the entire ride, did not get off and lead down steep hills, there was no reason to in the daylight, didn't think it was safe in the dark, too much risk of stepping wrong and being injured.

I'm not good at remembering all the details of the ride, the trail, the scenery, but I can say that it was the most beautiful ride I've been on. At one point during the night we rode parallel to the coast. The high fog created moon glow, and the low thick fog covered the ocean but not the shoreline, so we could hear and see the phosphorescent waves crashing along the shoreline.

Kathie Ford went along to crew. She worked so hard, getting to every vet check that was allowed, brought extra equipment to each check for riders that had no crew, took care of anyone and everyone that she could see had a need. Kathie made sure Sonny and I were well cared for, at the same time helping Jill, Lauretta, Renee and whoever else she could see needed help, that was usually before we got there since we were always close to last (:>) She was a big part of why we completed this ride.

Jill Carr and Walker completed their first 100 together! Sonny now has 2 100s and unless I decide to do one or both of the Patriot Day rides, he'll probably get a nice long break from endurance while I get Paloma ready for a 50 mile ride (:>)

Kathy


Wrap-up Note From The Ride Manager

August 25 2008

Thank you one and all for attending Swanton Pacific 75/100 a week ago. It was the best attended and perhaps the most successful ride of its 25 years.

We're had some very nice comments about the ride and trail and perhaps one year we will offer it again. It all depends on how much help we can muster to prepare for it. We are not turning over the management to anyone outside of our family, but we may go through some restructuring and delegating of areas of responsibility, depending on the availability and interest of family members. The teenage grandkids were a huge help, but they are beginning to go in their own directions, so who knows what the future will bring.

We want to thank all the riders, volunteers and crews for making this year special. Next year, Lud and I have some travel opportunities. Maybe we will offer the ride every two years....time will tell.

Despite many of my own pre-ride anxieties about camping and parking limitations, all seemed to go smoothly there. The new parking area available at Cascade was a huge help in keeping down the traffic on the main driveway. The weather was perfect and despite a few rider injuries, there seemed to be less problems than usual.

It was wonderful to see riders from far away...Canada, Oregon, Idaho and Colorado. We acknowledge your dedication to the ride in face of high fuel costs.

Thank you....all of you!

Barbara McCrary
Ride Mgr., Swanton Pacific 75/100
"The Most Beautiful Trail in the World"