Wednesday, June 20, 2012

City of Rocks: Salt Lake Cutoff/Emigrant Trail

Friday June 15 2012

'Twas another weekend at City of Rocks National Reserve, gathering info and finalizing details for the inaugural City of Rocks Pioneer Trails Endurance Ride on July 11-14 in southern Idaho (just 3 1/2 weeks away!).

Friday we made a 20-mile loop from base camp outside the park, on the Hensley/Salt Lake Cutoff through Emigrant Canyon, into the park by the Twin Sisters, down the north side of the Circle Creek valley, and back to base camp.

On August 22, 1850, Calvin Taylor commented on the trail: "In a short time after leaving camp this morning, we reached the bench of a mountain up which our road led. The way was rough and steep. n about 5 miles we reached the junction of the old Fort Hall and Salt Lake Road. This is quite a picturesque place."

The road is not so rough nor steep now, but then we have smooth and easy-going endurance horses to ride, and it's just as gawk-inspiring now as it was then. Calvin must have seen the same views of the Twin Sisters that we did, and he probably stopped at the old stage stop in Emigrant Canyon, remnants of which you can still wander around (if somebody holds your horse outside the fence).

The Salt Lake Cutoff Trail joined the California Trail, and we turned onto it into the Park. Little spider figures climbed the walls of the Twin Sisters as we rode past.

We rode around Register Rock, where emigrants wrote their names in axle grease between 1843 and 1869. Of course there are many archaeological findings from Native Americans from much earlier, before 250,000 emigrants passed through this area.

Despite the proliferation of granite spires and outcrops (making this one of the premier climbing areas in the world), most of the trails underfoot in the park are rock-free, making for smooth sailing.

Here's a video of our Salt Lake Cutoff/Emigrant Canyon/Circle Creek loop, part of the trails we'll ride in next month's endurance ride!

[video here]

(or link)

And more information on the ride here:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Owyhee Fandango Day 3

Sunday May 27 2012

Despite the poor weather (in not everybody's opinion!) on Day 1 and Day 2 of the Owyhee Fandango, Day 3 turned out just about perfect for the 30, 60, 80, and 100 mile rides for 37 riders, about 58 degrees and a breeze with intermittent showers.

Steph wore the helmet cam on Batman and rode the 80 (with plans to possibly elevate to the 100) with Connie and Carol on the 100.

There were some technical difficulties with the helmet cam (and with iMovie later!) - Steph tried the camera harness which appeared to be a fine invention, but on viewing the raw videos there was too much movement. I didn't want to make everybody seasick, so I used more still shots from the video than videos themselves! In the case of seasickness, take a dramamine and come back to watch the video again in 30 minutes. : )

13 of 17 riders finished the 100. Sue Summers and Suzy Hayes tied for first in a ride time of 9:54. If you'd been at the out vet check at the Sierra del Rio Ranch, you'd have seen Sue nailing a front shoe on Suzy's horse, after the shoe was lost in the boulder field. It took a team to get the shoe on - shoes and nails from the ranch manager dug out of boxes in several barns, nippers from Robert the vet, and a hammer from somewhere else. Sue and Suzy rode the entire ride together, and Sue's horse Mags Motivator got Best Condition.

Connie and Carol finished the 100 (Connie's first, and hers and Carol's horses' first 100s), and Steph opted to not do another 20 miles. It was also Nanette Young's first 100; Karen Chaton was her tour guide on the trail. Kathleen Edman, riding her Rocky Mountain horse Pierce the Veil elevated from the 80 to the 100 and finished.

Five started and finished the 80 miler, with Debbie Euker and Dennis Summers tying for first. Dennis' horse WMA Radiance got Best Condition.

Bev Gray and Jolly Sickle won the 60 (and got Best Condition) among the 14 that started and finished. Karen Steenhof and Rusty were the only LD riders who hauled out to the Sierra Del Rio Ranch for their start, their loop around the petroglyphs, and their finish.

The trails were near perfect after 2 days' rain, and the scenery and wildlife (and petroglyphs) fabulous along the Snake River. The Owyhee Fandango is an 'easy' 100 - if one dares call any 100 easy - it's too bad the attendance was so low this year.

But all had fun despite the weather and empty seats at dinner and awards. More wine to go around for those there, anyway!

Here's the video from Day 3: