In which we head up to the mountains and don't come down for a whole week

I absolutely have NOT forgotten about the Virtual Trail Ride, but I need about another week to put that together. Please continue sending your info if you want to contribute--I think the Revised Trail Ride will be able to hit the trails on Sunday, July 12.

In the meantime, here's the extended report from the mountains.

Part One: RideCamp

Camp has a wonderful feel to it--a combination of beautiful space, clear air, a lack of electricity, and a thrilling sense of urgency about the task ahead: building, clearing, and marking 75 miles of trails in six days.


When we pack up the SS Illegible, the goal is to carry with us everything to support a week of trail work and camping for 4 humans, 2 horses, and two dogs.

Inevitably, we forget something--the trick is to forget something that somebody else in camp remembered and can loan. With a little creativity, it can be done, although the year that nobody brought quite enough hay we had to go partway back down the mountain and accost a local farmer and beg to buy some hay out of his field. He even helped us load it. It was a little embarrassing, though.

This year I forgot riding breeches! How crazy is that? I have half-a-billion pairs of breeches in various states of repair at home, and I didn't pack any of them. I felt so silly...but fortunately I was able to borrow a set that survived washing in the camper sink every night so I could wear them again the following day. Whew.


We didn't really let Mimsy drive. She does have the same facial expression as Willy does when he gets to drive the truck, though.


Arriving a week before most of the riders means we can choose the prime camping spot--with plenty of shade, and the creek close by. I love these silver panels, and never have to worry about losing my horse in the middle of the night, (which has happened to me with another horse and a different containment system). These panels are sturdy and secure, but they only weigh about 30 pounds each, so even a 45-year-old librarian can set them up unassisted.

After the horses are settled, we set up quarters for the humans. The over-cab bed is large and comfortable, and has plenty of room for me and Jim and the two Shelties. Willy chose the dinette couch in the camper. Madeline opted for a single room with no plumbing, otherwise known as the horse trailer. It's pretty cozy in there--not too hot, not too cold, and we never have to worry about wind or rain on her sleeping bag, either--not even in the Swamplands.


David and Jennifer arrived before us, and got a headstart on stringing trail markers. Their trailer awning works beautifully as a staging area for tapes tied to clothespins.


This modest stack of tanks and barrels will keep the horses hydrated during the ride. The day before the ride, the water truck will be constantly in motion, collecting water from the creek and ferrying it to different parts of the ride course to keep all these tanks full.


Early in the week, though, the tanks are just a nice obstacle course for the dogs to play around.


Camp is a great place for dogs--there are so many games to play, and so many other dogs to play with--we even managed to make Jennifer's young Ridgeback puppy very tired by the end of the day.




I'm pretty sure that "breakfast meetings" don't look like this in the civilized world, but this is where we do the planning and mapping each day: in the shade of the camper, eating oatmeal and fresh cherries at the beginning of the day, while we pore over Greentrails maps of our trails and compare notes about what parts of the trails need to be repaired.



We use the quad and pickup trucks to transport tools and equipment for parts of the trail clearing,


but most of the work is done with horses. That gives us the opportunity to "test" the trails before we run more than 50 horses over them, and besides, we all love to ride!

At the end of the day, the creek feels good on tired horse feet and tired human feet too.

Beside the campfire in the evenings, we talk about what we were able to do during the day, and prioritize tasks for the following day, while simultaneously gorging ourselves on great food and beverages and good company.
NEXT...
Part Two: The Trails

Comments

  1. All that might be okay with me if we had some sort of camper. This middle aged body needs a bed at night, and I'm fond of indoor plumbing.

    Have fun and be safe.

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  2. What an amazing expedition - can't wait to hear more!

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  3. I love stuff like this and would love to help out sometime!
    I am goign camping this weekend(won't forget the breaches though..!!!) and i do think the trailer will be y cozy sleepign quarters..thanks for the idea!
    NO Prob On th Virtual...I have had no tiem to do it either yet...do you need stuff fro me? Are you posting all ours or?
    Kacy

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  4. I have to admit that I'm a bit envious. How lucky you are to be able to participate in this. How many years have you been doing it?
    I love camping, hiking and horses, too.
    If I ever get well enough to ride again (*sigh*) I should check into doing something similar. We have a group here called the Back Country Horsemen that does trail maintenance and plans rides, too.

    PS, Please tell more about those panels. I love them! I also like how they fit on the side of the trailer. Where could I find some like yours?

    ~Lisa

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  5. Leah Fry: the camper makes it much easier (especially in wet weather) but setting up a camp in the horse trailer isn't very difficult. We put down a heavy layer of shavings for the floor, and a tarp over the top of that makes a decent mattress.

    Kate: stay tuned, there's more!

    Laughing Orca: Jim and I (and Jennifer and David, too) are also associated w/Backcountry Horsemen, which does some very good trail work in our area.

    I don't believe that the Silver Medal panels are still being made, but you can sometimes see a set for sale on endurance.net There's a different type of panel--lighter weight, not as sturdy but much easier to assemble--now available, and I like them very much. They are called "Hold Your Horses" aka JB Portable Corrals, and I found the manufacturer's website at http://jbportablecorrals.com/

    Having LOST my horse at a ride many years ago, I'm a little rabid about secure containment! We found him 4 days later, but my heart has never fully recovered...

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  6. This looks like so much FUN! :) I have always wanted to camp with my horse!

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