Monday, October 27, 2014

The Haunting

As fall settles in so does crazy weather! When my bestest buddy, Colleen Martin, and I cooked up the idea of her meeting Beth Nicholes and I at Fort Rock for an endurance ride, the weather was gorgeous! A week ago it was still tank top weather. Rain settled in a few days before the ride and the weather report was a dismal 90% chance of rain on Friday, and 70% for the weekend. But we are endurance riders, and our young cohort, Beth, said, "I'm not afraid of rain!" So us two old ladies couldn't wimp out on the kid.

Besides I have known Tribby's for nearly half my life, and their place is gorgeous! It had been two years too long since I had ridden over here. This site, known as the historic Gebhard Well, was also a vet check at one of the old endurance rides put on by George Behee in the 80's. I have many great memories from rides, horses and people in this area in the old days. Shoot, Andi did her first endurance ride out here, in utero, I was 7 months pregnant when I rode the old Cabin Lake 60 on Tonka in 1982! 

We arrived Friday to sunshine! Colleen drove 440+ miles to meet us there to ride. The Tribby's had provided a round pen for the ponies and we were able to plug the trailer into electricity! We were living in style! The sunrise Saturday morning as we were saddling up was outrageous. But you know what they say about sunrises! The wind was already blowing but we were thinking positive on the weather! 

Beth rode The Big Brass, Colleen had Z Blue Lightening and I had my red beast, Z Summer Thunder. The footing was soft and easy except for lava outcroppings near the top of every rise. But even then if you rode it right, it was barefoot friendly. All three horses were outfitted in their Easyboot Gloves which all stayed on perfectly all day. The route took us by the amazing Hole In the Ground, seen in the background of the pic. Hole In the Ground is what the experts call a maar, an explosion crater, a mile in diameter. At one of the old '80's rides we actually got to take the trail down into and across the crater. There are a lot of geological wonders in this Fort Rock area. 

Fort Rock lies out in an ancient lake bed. The land is full of small hills and swales and is quite deceptive. 

Remains of an old log building from the homesteader days. There are many old town sites throughout this High Desert area. There are some great books on the area if you want to learn about where you rode. One is Reub Long's The Oregon Desert. And another is Pioneer Homesteaders of the Fort Rock Valley by Ray Hatton. We saw other remains of structures here and there that had been flattened by the areas winds over the years. 

I have to do a bit of bragging here. But my friends did an absolutely amazing job of not getting blown out of the saddle by the winds after the vet check! I was really hanging on and after one big gust Colleen yelled back at Beth, "Are you still there?" The horses kept going without fail, bucking that strong wind which makes every mile feel like two or three. And when the Jekyll and Hyde weather really hit we all just kept going! We rode the 55 miles in approx 7 1/2 hrs. Endomondo said our top speed in the last half of the ride was 12+ mph and our average was 6.7 mph. 

A burnt juniper sticking up out of the lava.

A colorful rainbow! We saw several of these in between blowing sleet and sun. This was a few miles before the torrential down pour hit us. At that point we still had a few miles left and we got thoroughly soaked and chilled to the bone. Water was running down the trail and we saw several deer on the run looking for shelter. But true to endurance, we got the horses taken care of and vetted in before we went in to change and warm up, taking turns in front of the electric heater trying to remove the chill! But even then, we weren't miserable or complaining. We were so happy to be finished, completed and have 3 sound healthy horses that were happily blanketed and eating their dinner! And only then could we get to our dinner of homemade crab and corn chowder. And I ate more than my share.  But when Colleen said "What you don't eat will give to the dog.", I replied "No way! Sorry Molly."

A close up of Fort Rock

On the way home we had to stop in old Fort Rock and the Homestead Village where they have been restoring old buildings.

I am hopeful that Tribby's will receive more cooperation from the ranchers, BLM and USFS and be able to put on more rides here. Sadly some areas had been vandalized and Tribby's worked so hard on this ride, I don't know why people have to do that. But even that can't keep me away from coming back to ride here again! It truly is a beautiful area. 


sandyc said...

Great photos, Karen, thanks for posting!

GSMarlene said...

Sounds awesome! Looking forward to enjoying these rides.

HHmstead said...

Beautiful! Like I was riding with you! You're so lucky to be getting in these rides~