Saturday, July 9, 2011
Big Horn: Big Dilemma
Saturday July 9 2011
To go or not to go - that is the question!
As of April, we had the Big Horn 100 as a goal, on July 16th.
Around the time that the Tevis was postponed till October because of high snow levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains, we heard that the Big Horn mountains also had a lot of snow and it was likely they couldn't use the usual high trail because the snow wouldn't have melted. (Someone knew someone who'd driven through there, someone heard it from someone...) Then someone said the 100 miles would be in the lowlands - and we really weren't interested. If we do the Big Horn, we want to do the original traditional Big Horn trail in the Big Horn mountains.
So it drifted out of our minds, slipped off our goal list for this year. Other goals surfaced: local rides like the 2-day Pink Flamingo, the 2-day Old Selam, and the Yost's tough Buckskin Challenge 50 mile ride. Steph suggested that maybe I should try riding Jose all 5 days in a row at our Canyonlands ride in September.
We really thought no more of the Big Horn for this year - until July 7 (9 days before the Big Horn). I got a call from a friend who asked if we were going. I said no, because we'd heard the ride was in the lowlands, and we wanted to do the original trail. He talked with the Ride Manager, who said the trail this year is the original trail, and 'trails are in good shape.'
Hmmm. Flurries of emails amongst us.
It is a fact that at least 3 times in the last 7 years, part of the Big Horn trail (the part you ride in the dark) did not get marked. People got lost on the mountain. Some were stuck overnight.
We discussed our original backup plan of having the GPS points of the trail with us (and knowing how to read them!) for if the trail was not marked this year. I had gotten the GPS points from Tom Noll (those GPS points saved him one year when the trail was not marked) and I sent them to everybody.
We started entertaining the idea again... what if we do the Big Horn! More backup plans: there would probably be several people we could ride with who have completed the ride and know the trail... perhaps there were safety in numbers.
So perhaps our backup plan of knowing the route was indeed covered... but what about the snows on the high trails? I do not want to be riding on snow, or where snow has just melted. I did that in April near here, and our horses were sinking to their mid-cannons in mud. I also rode a horse once who fell into a bog and almost drowned. Not fun.
I emailed another gal who is already at the Big Horn to help mark trail. She told me they weren't certain yet if they were using the high trail, although they planned on using it. Another gal told another friend that the trails were clear.
On July 8 (8 days before the Big Horn) another gal posted a note to a discussion group: "The trails look great! We still have a little snow at the highest elevations, but it is melting fast!" How fast? How much snow?
Steph heard from the Ride Manager, who said she'd be marking the high trail Sunday, so she'd let us know then about the snow.
Today, on July 9 (7 days before the Big Horn), we heard that the trail for the 50 milers would be the same trail that the 100's take on their return to camp. So, that would seem to eliminate problems of unmarked trails. That's good. But what about the snow?
There's also the important factor of the drive there: about 11 hours (2 days of driving, or one long haul day), and the gas it will cost to get there.
We'd love to do the Big Horn. But what about the snow situation? There's still time to get re-psyched up for it, but that time is running short.
Is it in the cards for this year?
(top photo by Darlene Anderson, who completed the Big Horn 100 last year)