Monday, June 4, 2012

Klickitat Trek- Awesome as Always

(photo by Dennis Anderson)

Last weekend I headed out with Glen and Flo to Glenwood Wa for the Klickitat Trek Ride.

Thursday night I checked Cartman's shoes and was horrified to discover that his right front was twisted a little.  You couldn't really see the problem while his foot was on the ground, but when picked up it was obviously tweaked.  I remember there being a horseshoer at the ride last time I attended.  

So on Friday morning about 9am we loaded up C, with his buddies Hotshot and Dixie, and we were off!

A few hours later we arrived at the Glenwood Fairgrounds. 

We parked up towards the road and started setting up camp.  When parking we had failed to notice the rather large herd of sheep, directly across the road.  The field looked like a sea of white fluffly sheep.  The sound they made wasn't really obnoxiously loud- but it was certainly incessant.  I don't think those animals are ever quite!

Cartman was unimpressed by neighbors, but Hotshot was horrified.  He is usually a very good camper, not prone to panic attacks or hissy fits at all.  But these white sheep had him very rattled.  Finally when it got dark and the sheep moved off to another field and Hotshot could relax a little.

As soon as the horses were secure with hay and water I raced off to find the shoer.

Unfortunately the shoer had not arrived yet!  Lucky for me, one of the ride managers is a farrier and she took pity on me and reset his shoe and pad and rasped a little flair off the other front foot.  I'm not really sure why this set of shoes don't seem to be holding up well, perhaps the new pads?  Anyway, a big "Thank You" to Leanne! 

A few hours later I saddled up Cartman and we headed out for a ride.  With all the hassle at work last week I just haven't been able to ride as much as I would have liked since Mt. Adams.  Cartman was a monster!!  He seemed to think he had this 'ride' thing all figured out and he just wanted to go, and fast.

We were out for about and hour and a half.  The trails were wonderful.  I just love that type of forest, with lots of pine trees and wild flowers blooming everywhere.  We got to a water tank and I decided to turn around.  There were four cows at the trough and one HUGE cow, or bull? laying down in the middle of the trail.  Cartman did not waver, he was gonna go right into the herd.  But I had second thoughts as that big one started to get up.  I circled and headed back towards camp. 

After a few minutes I realized this didn't look familiar any more.  Crap.  I get SO turned around on these trails.  About this time the sky got dark, the wind picked up, and a few raindrops spit down on us.  Uh oh.  I finally backtracked enough to find the right trail and not far there was a  ribbon.  Yeah!

It never did really rain on us:)  We ran into several other groups of riders and C started getting really strong in the bridle.  He would walk perfectly on a loose rein, but if I asked for any trot he'd blast off at mach 5 speed.  We stopped, backed, reversed, trotted, stopped, spun, trotted, etc. etc.  I tried a little lope here and there going away from camp.  He was still too strong. 

Did I mention it was really pretty warm, and very humid?  I felt like I'd been riding all day and C's neck was completely wet by the time we were back at camp again.  He still was way too "on the muscle" for my liking.  I turned left at the gate, instead of right going back to camp, which is what Cartman thought we were going to do.

I remembered this trail from a couple of years ago, second loop.  There is a nice long stretch of trail with good footing.  So, we loped, and loped, and loped.  Switching leads about half way through.  By the time we had walked back to camp C was much more manageable.  Whew.

When we got back to the trailer my neighbor Michelle, and her friend Kristy had arrived with their horses .  These guys did the trailride at Mt. Adams and were going for the LD at Klickitat.  It was Kristy's first LD!

Some other friends from Castle Rock parked next to us with their Missouri Foxtrotters and we had our own little base camp.  We had a wonderful dinner of a salad and Spanish casserole with chicken and rice.  Yummm!  Thanks Alli!

Saturday morning came bright and early.  Well, morning came, but the LD didn't  start until 9:30!  About 9:25 the three of us, Glen, Flo, and I headed over to the start.  As soon as the front runners were through the gate we were off.  C was being stellar, he had ambled thru camp on a loose rein and been snacking on grass while waited.  I was thrilled.

We had passed Michelle and Kristy tacking up as we went thru camp.  They were planning to go really slow.  Just wanting to finish the 25 miles, even if overtime.

I settled Cartman in behind Dixie, and Flo and Hotshot took the lead.  Hotshot must have been a little crabby after his experience with the sheep (they had unfortunately returned early Saturday morning) as he was being a real handful.  Dixie was motoring along, all business.

I simply could not believe how manageable Cartman was.  He wasn't crowding, trying to pass, or doing the fall behind, rush to catch up thing.  It helped that we were on some pretty good open trail and then on a wide, very long, dirt road.  I started to really relax and just enjoy the ride.

After several miles, probably about 4, I decided that C needed a little rest.  I told Glen and Flo I might catch up later and pulled C back to a walk.  As his gaited buddies headed out, I grabbed a horse treat out of my pack and gave him a little distraction.  No problem! 

We ambled along, getting passed by several horses and finally ended up riding with a nice lady named Shari (?) on a lovely chestnut Arab mare.  Her horse was fairly inexperienced like Cartman, and we both wanted to just have some mellow trail time. We ended up riding together for the rest of the day. 

The trail seemed to have quite a bit or road this year, and a bit of rock as well.  We did a lot of walking, interspersed with jogging when the footing allowed.  Cartman was not interested in water at the first stop, but I wasn't too concerned- he'd been eating and drinking heartily all evening and morning prior to the ride.

The first loop of this LD was 19 miles!  Yikes, I've never taken Cartman that far in one loop.  I tried to ride conservatively, just in case.

After hours on the trail we had to be getting close to the vet check.  Suddenly threer riders appeared heading towards us on the trail.  I know these guys, and they had passed us earlier in the ride. Hmm.  As we passed they said they had turned back.  There was a dangerous water crossing and were not going on to the vet check.

Now, one of these riders has 5000 miles, I'm pretty sure she has done a lot of water crossings.  This seemed really odd.  Nonetheless I wasn't turning around without seeing this water crossing for myself.  Cartman has done quite a bit of water crossings.  Flo helped me school him through many crossings on our home trails so I couldn't imagine that we couldn't do this crossing.

As the two of us got closer we could hear rushing water, it was extremely loud.  Horses were screaming and then some people were yelling. I was not getting good vibes as we descended the single track trail leading to the crossing. 

We were stopped by a line of horses, backed up at the crossing.  It was narrow and there wasn't really a lot of room to get up and see what was going on.  A lady heading away from the crossing said a rider and horse had gone down getting into the creek.  The horse had scrambled, I believe stepping on the rider, who was having trouble getting back out of the rushing water and up the bank.  Yikes. 

Several more horses passed us heading back up the trail.  Then some riders passed that had come from the vet check, which was apparently less that half mile from the creek crossing.  The horse that had fallen had then scrambled across and took off without his rider.  Someone had caught him on the other side, so we hoped they would send some help back out from the vet check to help us find another route across.

Cartman was being pretty good, we moved up a few horses towards the crossing and I could finally see it.  A lady on a huge STB was attempting to cross.  There was quite a drop going into the creek, as the horse stepped down he must have hit "the hole" as the water was going up to his chest.  He slipped a little to the side and then scrambled back up the bank.  No go.

I decided that if that big strong horse was having trouble there was  no way I was going to risk it with C.  He is pretty brave about water, I want it to stay that way.  My riding buddy was feeling the same way.  We decided to hang out and see if we would get re-routed, not wanting to give up 19 miles in, and so close to the vet check! 

My horse was starving!  I knew there was a huge bucket of beet pulp, carrots, grain, and electrolytes just on the other side of that creek.  Damn it. I was really hungry too.

After about 25 minutes or so, our horses started getting really upset.  They were still pretty crammed in on the trail, trying to stay out of each others way and find any bits of grass available.

I was really bummed.  I did not want a non-completion on Cartman's second ride.  He had gone 19 miles with no snack.  We were going to have to give up. 

Finally a group of about 5 of us decided to head back.  For some reason this really got C upset.  Perhaps he thought we were just turning around to head back the way we had come, to camp.  He started plunging and trying to run off, loping down the trail.  I kept pulling him back to trot and then he'd try it again.  Little turkey acted he was just heading out!

We pulled over when we'd gotten back up on top of the hill about a mile from the crossing and had our own little vet check.  I hopped off and loosened Cartman's cinch and fed him every horse treat I had in the pack. 

All of us were on young horses, that had only had one or two starts.  It was nice to have the company of other riders that were willing to give up a completion rather than risk their youngster getting hurt or scared.

I later found out that there had been quite a few LD riders affected by the crossing.  Unfortunately the creek is actually an irrigation channel and the water,  had been turned on late Friday.  This resulted in a crossing that had been a small descent into a 1-2 foot deep creek turning into a chewed up fairly steep descent into pretty deep water.  Flo and Hotshot plowed right through with Dixie and Glen right behind them, but she thought they were the last ones to get through.

The six miles back to camp went pretty quickly and by the time we got back I was feeling pretty good.  My horse had been absolutely amazing.  I had a great ride, on great trails, and now I know my boy can go almost 25 miles in one stretch!  I think he'll be able to do 50s!

I checked in, pulsed in right way and asked if I could still go through the vet.  I wanted to see how C had faired with all those miles.

The vet said Cartman looked really good.  He got all A's, except a B+ on the left side for gut sounds.  He literally drug me back on our jog out.  I was very happy as we made our way back to the trailer. 

C dove right into his hay, begging for alfalfa.  He got some:)

After I cleaned up a little I went over to wait for Glen and Flo to come in.  I waited, and waited.  It was way past when they would normally finish.  Right at 3:30 (cut off time) Sally and Heather flew into camp.  Heathers horse vetted in but Sally's mare was off and pulled.  I felt so bad for her, all those miles and to get pulled at the end :(
It seems there had been some trouble with the trail leaving the vet check and the LD riders had done 15 miles back to camp instead of the 6 miles it was supposed to be.

At 3:45 Glen and Flo made it in, passing the vet check with no issues.

The rest of the afternoon was spent, walking C, sponging C, waiting for Michelle and Kristy, and eating. 

Michelle and Kristy finally made it back, extremely tired and glad to be back to camp.  The trail had been re-routed around the deep crossing by the time they got to the vet check, but they got sent out on the long loop like many others. 

For dinner we all had steak.
About 8pm we went over for awards.  I was hoping that the riders that had ridden all those extra miles would get completions, despite the fact that they were technically over time for a 25. 

Ride manager Marilyn is a such a class act.  She quickly got the meeting going and addressed the problems encountered on the LD.  Explaining what had happened and that after conferring with other ride managers and the vets that she was going to give all the riders that had been sent on the wrong loop credit for a 35 mile ride.  Yeah!

Not only that, but for all the riders that were unable to cross what had become a rather dangerous creek crossing, we would get a completion-only for 25.  I was really surprised, thinking that without that first vet check we couldn't get credit.  So, there were no placings for us but completions. 

We all ended up getting those wonderful Klickitat sweatshirts and Cartman now has 50 miles!

Despite the fact that this has gotten really long, I will post a few pictures.


Dom said...

OMG that water crossing!!! How scary!

"Hey, guys. Sorry to everyone whose horse got swept away this weekend. We thought it was a creek. Our bad." LOL

Congrats on your LD.

I get so mad whenever a first loop is more than 15 miles, especially on an LD. I did the Foxcatcher 50 two years ago. The first loop was 24 miles... plus trail markers blew down in a storm the night before. Those of us riding top ten ended up doing an extra ten miles on an already ridiculous loop. 34 miles without a break was too much and Oz got pulled at the first hold. Ugh!

HHmstead said...

I know the EXACT water crossing you're talking about! It is REALLY nasty when running full like that! If you don't have a "clean" shot at it - without other horse around to freak your horse out - it's pretty much undoable - you made the right decision there!
Reading your "story" was just like being there! I loved it! Felt like I'd been riding along with you! So very impressed with how you handled your Big Guy! You handled him, he didn't handle YOU! Congratulations! Absolutely! You're ready to move up in distance!
You'll find, as you go to more rides, there there are ALWAYS surprises of some kind! Longer loops, no ribbons, accidents, all the stuff that makes the "name" of the sport appropriate! We don't call it "racing" here! We call it "ENDURANCE"! :-) Getting a completion for it is sure what is deserved!

KSLongrider said...

Smart riding and wise decisions by all. Good job!!

HHmstead said...

P.S. It was that crossing, when my boots filled with water - that I found out the "pleasures" of riding in waterproof boots! They hold the water IN! :-)

irish horse said...

First the scary sheep. Then the terrifying water crossing! But in between Cartman seems to have behaved himself admirably! That is a really long first loop. Good to make the safe decision at the water crossing, but maybe Cartman was thinking he was a tough "Caveman" now and wanted to try it.

CG said...

Thanks guys:)
Dom-I can't imagine doing a 34 mile loop, I'm pretty sure I'd just die:)
What HHmstead said about there always being surprises is so true! I'm going to have to remember that for future reference, try to plan as best as you can for the unexpected and stay flexible!
Irish- I do think the "caveman" might have done it, if we'd still been following his buddies for sure!

Karen said...

Great ride story! I actually like it when the first loop is long - makes the rest of the ride seem so do-able :)