Sunday, October 4, 2009

Owyhee Canyonlands 2009

The Owyhee Canyonlands Multi day is still one that I haven't finished all 5 days of. I have managed to do all 5 of a couple XP's and the old Lost Wagon Train but Canyonlands has avoided me once again. I was so pumped for this ride, had prepped and worked hard to be ready. Both boys, Thunder and Blue Lightening, were good to go. My back and hip could slow me down, I was aware of that, but I had no idea that my own tendon in a leg would stop me from all 5 days. However, better me to be lame than my horses!

Day 1 saw 50 starters take out of ride camp on the beginning of a great adventure. We rode the Wild Horse Butte, a 50 mile loop which left camp at Bates Creek, crossed Hwy 78, went out across the birds of Prey area, around Wild Horse Butte to the Snake River. Gorgeous. The horses drank deeply from the river and then we traveled along the river and up the hills, leaving it far behind, through washes and gully's where we met up with an unhappy rattler. I didn't stop to make friends. We were on the Oregon Trail for several miles which is pretty awesome. Then back to camp.

Day 2 was Castle Creek and we crossed so many creeks and canyons that I am really not sure which was which. The canyons and rock formations were gorgeous. The wind however was wicked and was about to blow us off our horses on the ridgetops. I loved the old wagon sitting alongside the dirt road not far from a ranch. This day and all days were 50 mile loops pf trail with all out vet checks. It was fantastic and beautiful, sandstone ledges, a vast land of many colors. However a few miles from the finish my ankle was snapping and popping and didn't want to support me so we were slow. But we finished. It felt better after I walked around for a bit so I was optimistic for day 3.

Day 3 my ankle felt good, I wrapped it with vet wrap and duct tape "just in case" but trotted out of camp on the Alder Creek 55 feeling good about the day. Linda took the day off her mare and rode Blue. I love watching that horse move, he is so pretty! We rode South across Hart Creek to Browns Creek for a vet check and somewhere in between that blasted ankle started to ache. In the vet check a friend gave me an ankle brace, we wrapped over top of that. Got the high topped riding shoe on and wrapped over that. It felt pretty solid. Out of Browns Creek and off towards Toy Mtn for one very rocky and hilly loop that would take us through canyons, creeks, by old homesteads and back to the vet check at Browns Creek. It was slow going, first due to rocks and then due to my ankle and pain radiating up the leg. Just great! After the vet check it was trot for a mile and walk for half to rest the bad leg. I was leaning off to the side and that wasn't good for my horse. Dropped the stirrups a notch and rode with me knees trying not to use stirrups at all. That's fine for a few laps around a show ring but not realistic for 16 miles of cross country. But we made it in with an hour and a half to spare. But I decided no more rides I'd just help at the vet checks.

Day 4 was Sinker Creek Canyon, considered rocky but not for miles on end like day 3. There are raptor nests in the canyon walls and it is super scenic trail and everyone was doing great as I pulsed horses down in the vet check. Each day did also offer a Limited Distance ride but theswe just aren't an option for me although these averaged about 17 entries each day. Turns out that my ankle isn't really the problem, but a symptom. The real problem is to put it simply, tendonitis, but that will probably take longer to heal than a sprained ankle. I think I should have stuck with the ankle but no choices there!

Day 5 there were still 6 same horse rider teams heading out on the trail. Blue and Thunder were unhappy campers and I ventured over to Tom's camp to see if he needed a horse to ride. I walked back with his saddle and Blue was on his way! An insulted Thunder was having a fit, "Hey remember me? I'm Top Dog! You can't leave me in camp!" I spent the day as the vet check timer, which was kinda fun but I'd rather ride. The next best thing was seeing my horse on the trail with a good friend! Sigh.... A total of 31 started the 50 and 29 completed. The trail was changed a bit from the first days trail and everyone had a wonderful ride despite a bit of cold wind and rain late in the day. The Awards Presentation found us all hovered around the patio heaters behind the house.

This was an amazing ride with the Teeter's doing a great job on the trails and opening up their home and ranch to all of us. What hospitality! And the dinners catered by Blue Canoe were scrumptuous!!! One of the great things was not one horse had to be treated all week! Not one ambulance call for an injured rider! Six teams completed 5 days for 255 miles and there two horse rider teams for the LD five day (all women what happened to the guys?!) and Steph was sure that was a record. The BIG loops of trail were outrageous! It was truly a memorable week of great trails, adventure and friendships! And will I try again next year! Of course I will.
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