Cross-State Rides

The Dragon is retired from endurance competitions,
but she's not nearly retired yet.  
We needed a new challenge.

A new trail in new terrain

Fiddle and I have done a lot of stuff together over the years, from dressage

I'm not a Dressage Queen, but my horse loves the work and it improves our communications skills.

to high-country camping.  

Three Sisters Wilderness

But what we like best is exploring new stuff.

So, I went hunting for new stuff that would be fun but not as physically taxing and concussive as trotting all those miles.  

Trail pass for the 2019 Cross-State Ride

The Cross-State Ride sponsored by the JWPW&R is an 18-day adventure from Easton, Washington (located in Snoqualamie Pass) to Tekoa, Washington (near the Idaho border).  

In other words:  the Cross-State would be a fun challenge that would take us away from home and familiar territory, and out into spaces I had never seen before:  perfect!

The daily schedule for the group runs something like this:

Early morning, usually around 5am:  
Wake up.  
Feed horses, eat something.  
Tack up horses and tie them to stuff.  
Pack up camp and get ready to leave. 

Horses are tacked and tied to trees in Thorp.
The further East we travelled, the harder it was to find trees.

7am or so: 
Trucks and trailers move in caravan to the next campsite.

The bus leads the way, the rigs all follow along in caravan

8am or so:
Park the rigs and ride the bus back to where we tied the horses.

Camp is almost always at the foot of a grain elevator, because the grain elevators were originally built
alongside the railroad that is now a rail-trail!  This camp is in Lind, WA.

9am or so:
Hit the trail.  

Tom Short's rig

For the first three days, wagons and carts and buggies leave first (behind the lead riders, who leave camp when the bus departs so that they have a headstart to open gates and mark hazards for the rest of the group).   

Horses who aren't experienced with buggies and flags and such are much braver approaching them from behind, as opposed to being "chased."  By the end of Day #1, I was using a buggy as a mounting block, so the fear thing is pretty quick to diminish.

9:30 am (thirty minutes after bus arrives)
Drag riders leave camp.  

Guy Stratton (photo right) take drag riding very seriously

5pm (promptly!)
All-camp meeting to discuss the trail ahead.

The meetings include a "tales from the trail" where we can share what we saw and did during the day,
and a briefing about what we can expect on the next day's trail.

Taco truck in camp!

New to the ride this year (and super-popular with the riders) was the option to partake of catered meals--usually dinners, but also breakfast sometimes!

Having food trucks and local organizations like Grange halls and church groups provide meals made things easier for riders, and also brought much-needed cash into the economies of tiny towns we visited along the route.

8pm or so

Jim built a bunk for the back of my truck.  With a 4" camp mattress
on top, I was completely comfortable.

I wrote a few blog posts from the trail, where connectivity was scarce.  
Here are those links:

Day 1:  Arrive in Easton, ride to Cle Elum.  
I hitchhiked with Darlene because my truck broke...and then her truck broke.

Days 2-4:  Easton to Cle Elum to Thorp to Ellensburg
Includes the parade through downtown Ellensburg to the Rodeo Grounds.

Days 5-7: Ellensburg to I-90 to Wanapum Dam to Warden
Darlene pulled the plug on her ride, and I continued on as guest of the lead riders!
The trail was beginning to get really pretty, and I started seeing places I'd never seen before.

Days 8-18:  Lind to Ralston/Marengo to Revere to Ewan to Malden to Rosalia to Tekoa
Cell phone bars and WiFi are hard to find in this part of the state, so I could only post once.
The trails are beautiful!  And the towns are SO SMALL!

Once I got home, I compiled more photos and told the story a little more completely.  
Here are those links:

Day 1:  Arrive in Easton, ride to Cle Elum
This post shows more of the trail and the people, including a group of awesome boys who built their own bicycles and rode along with us.

Day 2: Cle Elum to Thorp
Tunnels!  And trail photos.

Days 3-4:   Thorp to Ellensburg to I-90
Lots of rain, and details about "double-confinements" at the I-90 trailhead.

Day 5:  I-90 to Wanapum Dam
My horse was a PITA, Darlene went home, and I was adopted by the lead riders.

Day 6-7:  Wanapum Dam to Smyrna to Warden
We portaged across the Columbia River, dodged the bugs in Mosquito Alley, and toured a Hutterite farming community on our rest day.

Day 8-13:  Warden to Lind to Ralsten/Marengo to Revere to Ewan
Lots of sagebrush, and still lots of rain.  The towns become really tiny from here. My truck was finally fixed, so Jim delivered it to me!  Fiddle had a choke episode, and I learned stuff about that (she recovered fully, but we took a day off from riding to make sure).

Day 14-15:  Malden
Malden's library was our host for the rest day, and the church made breakfast for us.  Fiddle was feeling fine, so we rode out the next morning.

Day 16-18:  Malden to Rosalia to Tekoa (and home again)
Rattlesnakes and green grass, a parade, and the drive home.

The experience was so much fun, I wanted to do more.  
So I signed up for the John Wayne riders' Fall Ride, too!

Fall Ride, Day 1:  Meetup in Thorp, ride to Cle Elum
Jenni and Piglet figured things out, the rain came down in buckets, and the food was really good.  Also: video of the (short) tunnel, and apples along the trail.

Fall Ride, Day 2: Cle Elum to Easton
Less rain (but still cold), lots of bridges and colorful fall leaves. A short day of riding: only 11 miles on the trail!

Fall Ride, Day 3:  Easton to Hyak
More colors, more bridges, and a little blue sky.  19 miles of prettiness.

Fall Ride, Day 4:  Hyak to North Bend
The Very Long Tunnel, and we ended up back on the Wet Side once again.

What have I learned?

  • Bring more water than you think you need.
  • Bring more clothes for cold weather and warm weather than you think you want.
  • Be ready to figure out how to move forward when things go wrong.  Because they will, but it doesn't have to mean the end of the trail.  
  • Be ready to meet new folks, see new stuff, and have a lot of fun.
  • Be ready to sign up to do the whole thing again next year!


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