Monday, May 31, 2010

Owyhee Fandango - River Run!

Thunder was fine crossing the historic Guffey Bridge but wasn't crazy about stopping high above the Snake River for his photo!

The Owyhees have become one of my favorite places thanks to all the endurance rides put on by the Teeters and their great friends. When I am anywhere where I can see the Owyhees I just gaze at them and all these great memeories come rushing into my head! And now, once again, I was heading South to Oreana. I was pretty excited about going down to ride the 100 on Thunder. His first ever 100 and my first in a few years. The thoughts of new trails drew me like a piece of steel to a magnet.
Sunday at 6 AM my friend Lynn White and I left the Teeter Ranch, beginning our long day's trek. We headed NE to the Sierra Del Rio Ranch, a beautiful oasis not far from the Snake River. This heavenly spot was once a water and rest stop on the Oregon Trail. From here we rode through some awesome wagon ruts left over 150 years ago. When you are out in the remote country, truly very little has changed with time, and it is like taking a step back through history. Later we dropped down into the Snake River Gorge near Swan Falls Dam. Somewhere in here we managed to pass three riders, but I had a feeling we'd be seeing them again. We rode on sandy two-track roads and trails along the river, past an orchard from an old homestead, and into the large rocks decorated with petroglyphs. These boulders washed down in the Bonneville Flood over 15,000 years ago. Our trail later became skinny and hard to keep track of as it wandered through some boulders and rocks that some riders just hated. But I didn't mind, I've helped move cattle through rougher country than that. One section of the river had about 20 pelicans, the fishing must have been good!

Seeing the radio crew at the Pumping Station was a welcome sight and from there it was only a few miles to Celebration Park, Idaho's first archaeological park. We had to cross the historic Guffey Bridge, over 500 feet long and far up above the water. It was designed for the hauling of gold and silver ore from Silver City mines at the turn of the century. Later during World War II it was used for target practice and it was restored in 1989.

Our 40 mile vet check was in Celebration Park along the banks of the Snake River. It was warming up and when we arrived there had been four horses pulled. Nothing like hearing that news to place fear in your heart! But we vetted through with A's and would be allowed to retrace our steps back to the Ranch after an hour rest. Thunder never stopped eating the whole time, what a hoover! But it is one of the things that makes him such a strong horse.

As we backtracked to the ranch we saw a few things we'd missed the first time. The trail passed by the remnants of an old rock homestead cabin. From another point across the river stood the Halvorson Cabin across the river, also built of rocks. From this angle we also spotted more rocks with petroglyphs. A couple rattle snakes greeted us after we had climbed back up out of the gorge getting closer to the ranch.

Back at the ranch we had 65 miles down, 15 to go back to Oreana. We were still having a blast and vetted through at Oreana just after 8 PM. We had our 50 minutes rest and eat time and hit the trail again at 8:58. Twenty miles was all that lay between us and that special completion of our 100 mile goal. We trotted until it got pitch black dark and we hit a spot where we had trouble finding trail. We had to use our lights to find the trail. I learnt that for some reason a map just doesn't look right by flashlight when you're a bit tired. And then it was so dark, the lights had messed up what little night vision we had, so we just kept the lights on. We'd jog here and there, walk in other places where we weren't sure of the footing. And because we slowed down, we got passed! Oh well, no matter, we were having fun and doing what we wanted to do, finish on happy healthy horses.

As it got a bit later the horses just picked up a really fast walk, occasionally we would trot but mostly we just used that fast walk. The glowsticks were now plentiful and it was easy to find the trail. The full moon was starting to peak over the horizon but it wasn't giving us much light with the clouds. As we rode along the backside of the hill above camp we could see all the lights at Teeters were on. Just like Motel 6. As we got close someone yelled "Riders coming!" And yes we were the last two survivors. Just as we rounded the corner about 200 yards from the timers Thunder & I heard a rattler and he bolted. I was sitting loose and the reins were swinging but I got him reeled in about 100 yards later. Ah yes - excitement!

The vet, Robert Washington checked Thunder over and he looked great to finish and and we had now completed his first 100!! WOOHOO!! Lynn's horse vetted through with flying colors too and they had their first 100 also! What a great day!!! 1:04 AM, just over 19 hrs elapsed time and just under 16 hrs riding time when you subtracted the timed holds! Wow that is respectable. 16 started and 10 completed. Time to take care of the horse and hit the sack for some well deserved rest!


Merri said...

woohoo great job!

Go Thunder!

- The Equestrian Vagabond

KSLongrider said...

WTG!! said...

Congratulations Karen and Thunder!!!