Sunday, October 21, 2012

In which we go to a ride prepared for rain, and it surely does rain

This is the first time I've been camping since we got rid of the camper, and I was eager to try out the newer, slimmer version of ridecamp.  

Jim and the kids stayed at home:  this trip was just for Fiddle and Luna and me.
Luna enjoys the cozy nest inside the SS Illegible

The original plan for Foothills of the Cascades was to meet my friend Sky in camp, with her bringing her experienced horse Cricket for me to ride, and Cricket's 6-year-old filly Trinket for herself so that Trink could be "sponsored" by her mom on her first long-distance event.

It's good to have a plan.  If you have no plan, you have nothing to crumple up and throw away.  

Two weeks ago, Cricket's intermittent glitchy gait was diagnosed as a minor suspensory pull--not a career-ender, but definitely an injury that takes her out of the ride. 

The revised edition of the plan was that Sky and Trinket would meet up with me and Fiddle at the ride.  

Then the weather moved in:  Rain, and lots of it.  Also wind.  And more rain. The rain is actually a good thing, because the woods in Oregon (and Washington) have been so dry this summer that the ride was almost cancelled because of fire danger.

Fire danger was not a problem on ride day.  Drowning was a much bigger concern.

On Thursday before the ride, Sky's trailer was packed, but the weather forecast was too scary for a rider with a green horse.  She made the sensible choice, and cancelled.

However, Fiddle and I (and Luna) went to the ride anyhow!

Cozy nest, version 2:  moving the cot forward keeps my feet out of the draft and rain
near the back door of the horse trailer.
Without Sky (or very many other people) in camp on Thursday evening, I quickly finished reading the book I had packed, and then looked around for something to do.

If only I had grabbed my computer on the way out the door, I might have started writing another book...
16 chapters outlined and ready to write.
...but wait!  I had a stack of blank photo releases in the truck!  And a ballpoint pen in my horse trailer!

With these primitive but effective tools, I spent several peaceful hours curled up with my dog, drinking tea and outlining the new  book:  Endurance 101 for Juniors.  Watch for it in late 2013. Wahoooooo!

But before we get to next year, it's important to finish the trail directly ahead.
Vet-in.  Does anybody else notice that I look like a toy human next to all this bigness?

The ride meeting was a "huddled" affair under a strong tent.  We all hoped for clear(er) skies in the morning...

Ride Manager Mary Nunn tells us where to go.

...and we got them!  Well, for a while.  The first loop of my 25-miler was beautiful,

Beautiful foliage on the trail.

 and I even contemplated removing a layer of polarfleece-gortex for the next loop.

Fortunately, it started showering just as I was preparing to leave the vet check, so I left all my layers in place, and thus was pretty well-equipped to enjoy the rain, the hail, and the sn*w that fell during the second loop of trail!  Fee showed off her mud-handling skills admirably and totally rocked the trail.

More pretty colors, and not as much mud as you might expect.
This was a far cry from the rainy-miserable ride we had in 2011, mostly because I was wearing my Much Better Jacket, plus the purple rain chinks.  We were wet, but we were comfortable!

Who needs fashion when you can be warm and dry?!
Photo by Michelle Woods
As we approached the vet check, the sky cleared...for a little while.  I had to take a picture, just in case I was hallucinating.  I don't often hallucinate after only 25 miles, but considering the weather earlier in the day, I was unwilling to trust my perception of blue sky!


It really was blue up there...briefly

At the finish line, Jim's Evil Twin was waiting with my crew bag and a steaming pot of gumbo to feed the entire camp.  Dang, that's good stuff.
Paul is a great cook, and also pretty awesome crew
I was unwilling to keep Fee standing out in the rain for another night, so I did something I've never done before:  after we finished the ride, I packed up camp and drove home.

It was six hours on the road (we hit significant traffic in Portland), but I figured Fiddle would rather be warm and dry for six hours in the trailer on Saturday night than spend the night in the monsoon and then hang out in the trailer for the drive home.  I probably wouldn't do the drive if we'd done a 50-miler, but we did 25 miles and were finished just after noon.  It took two hours to pack up and say goodbye to everyone (Foothills is a very social camp!) so Fee got a break before hopping up into her movable home and heading north.

We got home before bedtime, and I tucked her in with a substantial stack of hay and a kiss on the nose for a job well done.

Good Dragon!