Thursday, June 14, 2018

2018 City of Rocks Pioneer Endurance Ride: Put it on Your Bucket List

June 14 2018

"City of the Rocks ride was absolutely amazing!!" - Idaho rider Sally Tarbet

We Crick people do our bestest to put on a great 3-day Pioneer endurance ride for those who want great trails and a good challenge. Over the 8 years we've done it, we've got our routine and jobs down pretty pat. That's not to say it's not exhausting, but it's pretty rewarding when numerous people take the time to write, or stop by before they head home, and gush about their experiences, and thank us for putting it on. And when you hear the term "Bucket List ride" tossed around a bit, well, the tiredness and tribulations (like that gnarly wind storm we had Saturday night!) seem trivial enough.

Gasp-worthy vistas and great trails and pretty darn good ride weather greeted a record number of riders for this year's City of Rocks ride near Almo, Idaho. Participants from as far away as Canada, Arizona, and California - as well as local Idaho first-time riders - partook of the delights, which, besides the excellent riding, were the town amenities of the Durfee Hot Springs (they know us by name now) and Rock City (they also know our names) and their fabulous pizza and gourmet beer selection. To be sure, we got some Washington and Oregon riders because Klickitat was cancelled, and Strawberry Fields is 3 weeks later this year instead of two, but whatever the reason, they pulled into Ridecamp in droves this year.

5 or 6 of us hauled horses and gear and a refrigerator (best idea ever!) the 4 hours from the Crick to a perfect basecamp at 5600 feet right outside of City of Rocks National Reserve, to camp out for 10+ days, and work non-stop setting up camp, marking trail by ATV, hiking and riding. John T even had the great honor (?) and VIP job of doing the water this year, since the indispensable Nicholes kids couldn't be present to help.

Over the week, Ridecamp grew bigger and bigger, on both sides of the road, till it was busting out of its seams. The locals were agog at this annual conglomeration of avid horse riders and campers.

An astounding 75 riders took to the trails on Day 1, touring Castle Rocks State Park to the north. 33 started the 25-mile LD, with those racing mules from Heart 2 Heart Ranch taking the top spots. Junior Lucy Martin's mule Irish pulsed down first in 2:51 for the win, with Junior Claire Sterling and Bear the mule second, and Trinity Jackson and Hope the mule third. Fourth place David Brown on that other Equus species, a horse, finished in 3:08 and got Best Condition.

30 riders finished, with Ann Kuck and Dirty Martini bringing up the Turtle spot in 4:58. Both Ann and Marty have come a long way together in their endurance journey; he's slowly coming to be one of those other Equus species, a good dependable riding horse!

42 riders started the 50, with only 1 rider option pull. We all want Jessica to get well soon, though she found an upside in being sick on The Big Brass, who can sometimes be very naughty. "Now I know I can puke off Brass without freaking him out - always good information to have!"

Stephanie Chase aboard DA Serabaars Secret and Christoph Schork aboard GE Atticus Golden Sun tied for first place in 5:20, with Secret getting the Best Condition award. That was Secret's 6th BC in his 5-year career.

Day 2 had 66 riders, with 33 in each distance. Trails looped along the Emigrant Trail through Emigrant Canyon and into the City of Rocks National Reserve past the iconic Twin Sisters granite spires, and back up into the park near or up to Indian Grove springs at 7200 feet.

Junior Sidney Jackson won the 30-mile LD in 3:25, and got Best Condition on the mule John Henry. Jill Hedt and Gracie the mule were second, and Trinity and Baby the mule were third. Only 3 pulls on the LD.

28 of 33 finished the 55-mile ride, with Christoph aboard the AERC War Mare GE Stars Aflame finishing first in 6:29. Second in 6:29.02 was Christoph's intern Tina Gottwald aboard Pinky (GE RR Jazz Dancer); they won the Best Condition award. On this day, Crockett Dumas aboard OT Rasa RSI (another AERC War Mare, and an AHA Distance Horse of the Year) met a cactus he didn't like when Rasa took a spin in a new direction Crockett wasn't prepared for. It of course did not deter Crockett from saddling Rasa up for the third day.

Day 3 had 62 riders, with the same loops through Emigrant Canyon, and up to Indian Grove, though the Indian Grove loop was done in the reverse direction so you could see totally different, still-spectacular scenery.

37 of 38 riders finished the 25-mile LD, with Lee Ann Clark and ROL Burning Love getting first place in 3:12, and the Best Condition award. Junior Baylee Morgan on the mule Bear was second, and Junior Parker Eversole on the mule Irish was third.

22 of 24 finished the 50-miler, with, guess who, Christoph aboard Medinah MHF tying for first again with Stephanie Chase on Secret, with Medinah getting the Best Condition award. They finished in 6:01. Tina Gottwald was third aboard GE Atticus Golden Sun.

A number of riders finished all 3 days on their horses. 8 rode all 3 days of the Limited Distance rides, with Carrie Johnson and Payback Daysea Duke getting the overall fastest time. 7 finished all 155 miles (3 of them from Canada, eh?) with Layne Lewis and Beauty's Harley getting fastest overall time. Both Carrie and Layne's horses got the Vet's Choice award, the Getaway Horse.

Veteran endurance rider Naomi Preston summed it up:
"One word. Spectacular! City of Rocks Pioneer 3 day ride in Idaho. A MUST for your bucket list! Reminded me of the gorgeous trails and fun at the old Race of Champions!"

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go sleep for a week.

*lots of fun photos at