Monday, June 18, 2012

Hat Creek Hustle 2012: Day 1, A Success

Day 1, photo credit Baylor/Gore

I've been barely conscious with a migraine today and am just now back on my feet, so here is the write of up of Day 1 from Saturday PM.  Tomorrow we'll discuss how we went 38 fantastic miles Sunday and then Things Went South...

Friday-->Saturday 50 miler

I was out of the driveway by 7 am Friday and after a stop for fuel and ice we were on the highway headed for Lassen. My gps and google mapping directed me on a different route than my husband and I took last year to the ride, but the route I drove still seemed very familiar to me. It took me ¾ of the drive there to remember I had taken this scenic route toward Susanville to try out a horse a few years ago, before I bought Desire. 

I ended up taking the tourist route through Lassen Park itself, which included a $10 entry fee and 30 minutes of white knuckled, map-double-checking driving (but careful, don’t check that map for long!) along the edge of a cliff. It was a beautiful, slow, windy drive at 15-25 mph tops. Snow was six feet on the sides of the road and the views were breath taking, as was the wicked drop off immediately on the passenger side of the road. I won’t take that route again with truck and trailer as the $10 fee and slow speeds were slightly resented (by moi), but it was worth doing once! 

Ride camp was still pretty empty when I pulled in around 11 am and I tucked the rig back in the trees in almost the exact same spot as last year. No one was around to see my ungodly struggle to the get the canopy up, luckily. So, turns out the “Easy-up” canopies, while easy for 2 people, are incredibly sucky to put up by yourself. The winsomely simple illustration of squeezing the cross bars up to click the top into place…um, maybe if I had Schwarzenegger hand strength, but in my case it was more like pushing, pinching, squeezing, wedging, swearing, and CLICK! Triumph. So it wasn’t a pretty process, but I *did* recreate the cozy Arabian Nights Tent my husband usually constructs for us.


Modified Olive barrel=awesome bucket filling/head wetting system:

Arabian Nights Tent, the Bird edition:

My crew for this ride, Georgia:

We were checked in and vetted in by 3:30 and I spent the rest of the afternoon visiting--N and Willow were there, another hometown friend, D, and her Foxtrotter mare, some folks that loaned me a bit last year, and later Funder and Dixie arrived and camped near us. Desire was in true dippy trippy mare-in-heat-space-cadet form all afternoon. We visited with her FavoriteHorseintheWorld, Willow, and when we parted ways Desire was quite upset about it and continued to be a pill throughout our few mile leg stretcher ride, which was more of a misbehave, correct, jig, swear, repeat- ride than anything. She was just being a total snot, and spooking at any and everything. 

Desire's endless love, N's mare Willow..kinda like looking in a petite-izing mirror:

Ride meeting was basic, no maps, no numbers on the horses at vetting in (pulse: 40, all As, btw), and the loops were blue, red, orange for the 50s, with a planned 30 minute hold in camp after blue, and an hour lunch hold in camp after red, after a no-hold vet check out on the red trail. Ride start was 6:30 am. 

Ride meeting, Friday pm:

Funder vetting Dixie in, with Dr. Lydon:

Funder's Dixie, Friday pm:

I believe one of the beauties of endurance are the extreme highs and lows we experience while following the ribbons. I find myself entering a microcosm on the day I leave for a ride, where all that matters is my horse. I don’t think about the outside world one bit until the morning after the ride when we pull out of ride camp, when reality suddenly, and often unnervingly, rushes in. 

While I’m living in Endurance World though, there is still *plenty* going on. My girl Desire is tough, strong, sometimes hot, sometimes silly, and *usually in heat* at rides. She is not a boring ride, to say the least! She is well trained at the core and never (okay, not often) dangerous, but she is a fast, agile, stubborn mare and you’d better not let your mind wander far when riding her. 

Saturday am, ready for the start:

All that said, our first 10 mile loop of Hat Creek Hustle 50 2012 was the worst Desire has been since our first 50 together at Day 1 of Cuyama in March. It was a controlled start and she was jigging and jogging along, there were little groups of riders everywhere and I didn’t think we had a prayer of finding a pocket, but the group just ahead of us was dawdling so I passed them and set off on the nice winding forest trail. I did this loop last year on the LD, it’s a really nice loop with good footing and a gradual climb you don’t even notice until you’re suddenly going obviously downhill. 

I leap frogged with Karen Chaton and Funder for most of the loop and Desire was at her hoof stomping, bit chomping best. We didn’t have a minute of composure on that loop and she stared after the horses at the troughs and pranced away without drinking  a bit. Fortunately at only 10 miles I wasn’t too worried about her hydration, more about whether her brain would ever return. 

Nice forested trails on Loop 1:

A half hour hold with tack on, all A’s, and the usual hind hoof stomping that attracts so much attention at vet checks. She *hates* her hind splint boots but if she doesn’t wear them she will start to interfere as she gets tired, to the point that she had a raw spot on her left hind fetlock after Whiskeytown. So at any and all vet checks or rest points she stomps her hinds and it’s loud and looks like she’s being a bitch. Every single ride one vet or another asks if I can’t take them off, are they really necessary, etc. Here's the deal. They aren’t cosmetic, they are high quality breathable boots, and she wears them to protect her legs. Clearly?  I don’t think they’d rather I showed her with a cut on her leg and it’s much hotter (and more annoying) to vet wrap it. Sorry folks, she doesn’t like her splint boots and wants everyone to know about it. That said I am in the testing phase of the shorter ankle boots, fingers crossed she takes to those with less drama. *eyeroll*

At first hold, thanks for the photo Funder:

I rode the second loop, 25 miles, with Karen Chaton and her boy, Chief. Desire and Chief rated well together and Desire wasn’t even particularly competitive and snotty about trotting along with him. In fact, she was a completely different horse than she had been the first 10 miles. She walked out nicely from camp, trotted along sanely, and though she chomped the bit some, she behaved pretty darn well riding with Chief. I like to ride her alone usually because she gets so competitive but they were just rolling along with their nice extended trots and it was a blast to be in good company on good horses without a boot worry in the world!  Hallelujah all 4 Glue-ons stayed on and I had the best ride I’ve had in months! 

Riding Loop 2 with Karen Chaton & Granite Chief:

Lava Rock of Doom:

Winding up to a plateau with views of Mt. Lassen AND Mt. Shasta:

Mt. Lassen:

Making the most of the Vista Point!

The 25 mile loop had some nice scenic spots and an awesome stretch of perfect footing through the forest where we just flew along at a booming trot. We didn’t get maps, I didn’t have a gps, and it didn’t matter. We were on the right trail, flying, and loving it. 

We were still trotting when we caught sight of camp which wasn’t our plan, so it was time to bail off and loosen girths and work on pulsing down. If I drop Desire’s girth significantly and take her bit out, she is almost always pulsed down, and that was the case this time. She vetted through with As and a few A-s  and it was back to the trailer to stuff our faces. 

And stuff we did! Desire usually sleeps at lunch holds but today she powered down a whole big sloppy mash and had moved onto the hay when it was time to tack up and go. I dove into the salami and cheese and watermelon and had a great appetite as well. Desire is getting better with the electrolyte syringing, that is she still spits as much out as she can but she is getting better at letting the whole syringing process happen. The first time I de-wormed her after I bought her she took me off the ground rather than take the syringe, so this is progress.

The last 15 mile loop was the final loop of the LD last year so I remembered it well. I had eagle eyes out for the turn I missed last year or could well have missed it again. It’s a sharp right turn off a wide open uphill trail and if any corner deserves to be marked with water troughs as is Lydon’s habit, that corner does! I wasn’t the only one to get lost there last year, not sure if anyone missed it this year, though I know some, including Funder, did take a wrong turn in the second loop and had a long day.

After our brisk 25 mile loop we took the last loop very slowly. Karen and I missed each other after the hold so Desire and I did the last loop totally alone. There was a lot of rock and it just wasn't worth risking a wrong step to move out any quicker. On one particularly rocky, single track trail along the edge of a hill I got off and walked and it was nice to stretch my legs. I remembered about every part of that loop so it was relaxing to know where I was, know I had plenty of time, and just meander along with my mare. When the trail got decent again I re-mounted and we did a booming trot to about ¼ from camp. It was too funny, she felt fresh as could be on the trail to the finish but when she caught sight of camp all fight went out of her and she went into snooze mode. 

Some nice footing on Loop 3:

Dorky riding goggles for the win!

A good spot to get off and walk!

View to the left while walking the narrow rocks above:

My friend D rode both 25s on her cute little Foxtrotter mare and good soul that D is, she camped out at the finish line Saturday with an ice cold bottle of water that she handed off to me when I appeared. The cold drink was great and it was nice to see a familiar friendly face at the finish line, too. 

I untacked and cleaned her up a little before returning for the final vet check where she got As and A-s. The vet asked me to trot her out again because he thought he saw a little something in her hind, which I have no doubt is that spot she knocks when she gets tired. I took off her splint boots before the final vetting so she wouldn’t stomp and could relax, and I think she knocked that spot on her first trot out because he said it wasn’t consistent but just a slight *something* trotting out that he didn’t see coming back. He asked me to trot her out for a vet in the morning before leaving which I think is very fair. I think she was just tired and hit the spot but if she is a little off in the morning we’ll deal with that too. I had such a great ride today it made it all well worth it and if we get to do another 50 tomorrow it will just be icing on the cake. 

Mid-mash-slurp, after the Finish:

To be continued..


  1. woohoo, another great ride and writeup! Easyup tent, NOT EASY, I'll attest to that too. Those are some gorgeous looking views, and then some tough looking trail, but Desire looks ready to conquer it all. Interesting about her still hating the splint boots, seems like she'd get used to them by now! I love your concept of living in Endurance World, it sounds like both you and Desire get into that mode. Congrats on the finish, though it sounds like the next day 50 was not to be, damn, anxiously awaiting the next story (but only after the migraine gets better).

  2. Congrats on finishing what sounded like a fun ride (I loved the pic of the forest trail...I would give anything to ride some trails like that)!

    I will have to borrow the "Arabian Night's" tent idea when I am able to start camping with my horse (and hopefully, eventually..being able to take part in a ride with a second horse). I wish I could take my old Pop-up camper, but unfortunately, my truck will only tow one trailer- LOL

    I have had wraps on my old man before for interfernce issues as well. Being a Standie, he likes to pace and has occasionally hit his front legs in his exuberance (now that he's older, we don't do as much of the faster riding as we used to :-( ) ...and like Desire, he wasn't fond of wearing wraps either. He would do this goofy little dance with his front legs, rubbing them together and everyone would laugh at him.....

    Looking forward to hearing the rest of the story ;-)

    1. The Arabian Nights Tent is perfect, it keeps things a little cleaner in the tent, gives you some privacy for changing etc...and it's cheaper than a LQ horse trailer! Lol