Tevis may have been a bust, but there was still a ride year to complete. I wanted to get Hoss over the 3,000 mile mark. We needed 150 more miles to do this. At this point I was not sure if I'd get through the next ride, let alone another three, so I was taking things day by day.
My husband was home for this ride, so we struck out for Arizona with Hoss in the trailer. We brought my elderly dog along as well, as she was showing signs of her age and I wanted to keep a close eye on her.
The weather was a bit unpredictable. I had a sense we'd be getting into some interesting riding. I'm okay with that. I've been doing this sport long enough to have ridden in nearly every weather condition not likely to result in serious injury or death.
On the way, I realized I had forgotten to pack riding tights. Now that would definitely be a problem. As we passed through St. George, Utah, we stopped at a Wal-Mart and I picked up a couple of cheap pairs of women's leggings, hoping they would hold up to five days of riding. It meant if we got rained on I'd be cold and wet. I've had worse. At least I had my water bottles. I did forget my video camera, but my still camera was in my bag so at least I wouldn't be completely image-free.
We arrived at base camp on Tuesday before the ride, only to discover the last bit of road into camp was flooded out. Several other trailers were parked on the side of the road. Sensing trouble, I parked there as well. I thought I could probably drive through the big puddle, but I had no idea what the condition of camp was. Much better to stop and ride in to speak with Dave.
I unloaded Hoss and saddled him up quickly to find out what the skinny was on the camp situation. We jogged down the road and found Dave. It turned out we would probably not be able to get our rig into camp that night. So we got the trailer turned about and set up a rough camp. Hoss slept tied to the trailer off the road and we slept in the trailer. The only drawback to sleeping in the trailer was the condensation. I got dripped on three times over night, and right about the time I was falling asleep, too.
Details of the ride are difficult to remember at this point. I have been in the habit of doing a blog for each day, but due to the passage of time and for maximum efficiency I'm doing all days in a single entry.
Hoss and I rode over in the morning for vetting in and set out on trail. It was a gorgeous day despite some clouds and warm enough for the most part. As we rode along the South rim of the Grand Canyon, we could see storm clouds in the distance while we were under sunny skies. Hoss was cheerful and careful with me. He pulsed in at the vet check easily enough and we had an excellent day.
By the time we arrived back at camp, my husband, my wonderful, ever cheerful, never complaining, husband, had moved our rig into camp with the help of Dave and his crew. He did precisely as instructed by ride management and was quite pleased with himself. It was incredibly nice to come in to camp completely done and ready for us.
On Day 2 the weather was still reasonably nice but more humid. Hoss needed his electrolytes for sure and was more than happy to take them when offered. We had more spectacular scenery and overall a pleasant day.
Day 3 was the break over point. This was the 3,000 mile day. And it was stormy. Hoss had never been out in a major thunderstorm before. One clap of thunder in particular cause him to nearly leap out of his skin. Despite the rain it was warm. The environs were beautiful in rain and the mud was not bad at all. Rather sticky rather than slippy. I did have a hard time keeping his feet clean, as it was a challenge to bend down to pick them out.
Day 4, I decided we'd do it again. I was feeling pretty OK, and it seemed a shame to skip a day if we were there anyway. I clambered up on the saddle and we headed out again. It was a pleasant day and we had pleasant company. When we got back to camp, I checked Hoss's feet and was dismayed to discover his shoes were nearly worn through. I could only hope they'd make one last day, but I had boots as back up so didn't worry over much about it.
Day 5 I was starting to feel the riding thing. But, it was just one more day. I could handle it. So we set out on trail with our riding buddies for the day and got just one more day done. Hoss was feeling fit and sassy. We even got a picture cantering past the photographer. When we arrived back at camp, I was really feeling poorly. For a moment I thought I was going to have to enlist help to get off my horse. As I went to dismount, I almost couldn't lift my leg enough to get over the cantle pack. Fortunately Hoss is a patient and kind soul, and he didn't jump or react when I jabbed him repeatedly with my spurs in weird places while I tried to get off without falling off. As glad as I was to have gone, I was happier still it was over.