Thursday, February 27, 2014

2013 Bryce Canyon XP

Between Grand Canyon and Bryce, I was able to get my hip injected. It was a repeat injection, to confirm my hip as the source of my woes. The first injection hadn't worked at all. This second one, however, resulted in a pretty significant improvement. While it wore off pretty quickly, it was a positive outcome. By confirming the hip as the problem, it allowed me to move forward to the next step.

The injection was about a week before Bryce and I hoped it would last long enough to make Bryce not just tolerable but pleasant. Unfortunately it was not to be. The injection was pretty much completely worn off by the time I left for Bryce.

This time it was just me. I took the two eldest dogs with me, which turned out to be a bonus. On the coldest nights, I made the little dog sleep on my feet!

Before we left for the ride, Hoss's award blanket for 2012 arrived. He had completed enough miles to be the high mileage mustang, and was awarded an embroidered blanket by the Intermountain Wild Horse and Burro Association. I took out his faded olive green blanket, and hung that bright blue one in the trailer in its place.

Hoss's award blanket
We arrived in camp at a decent time the day before the ride started. Many riders were on trail, doing the point to point ride from the Virgin Outlaw ride to Bryce. We were able to find a good enough place to camp close to ride management so I wouldn't have to walk far. I had already decided the easiest thing would be to set up my "apartment" in the trailer. The tent would not hold up if one of the dogs decided to exit despite being zipped in. When it's just me, I can use the twin size cot and set up my kitchen and a deck chair and a toilet bucket (that was fun; kinda low when you've got a failing hip). It was nice and cozy for the three of us, with blankets on the floor for the dogs when they weren't sleeping on the cot. I even brought enough propane to run the catalytic heater and keep us reasonably warm.

At the ride meeting, I missed that people were eating, and I walked back to trailer to get something. Our little dog is a bit of a glutton, and he didn't follow me, but because I'd failed to realize people were eating I didn't make him come with me. He ended up eating someone's dinner. Hadn't been in camp half a day and already my dogs were ticking people off.

Day 1

After securing the dogs in the trailer, Hoss and I headed out on trail. Despite the previous week of rain, the weather cleared up nicely and we had a very nice ride. We were on our own for the day.

About halfway through the ride, I began wondering what the hell I was doing there. My hip started to really give me trouble and I was thinking I had made a huge mistake going to the ride at all. I had decided to go because if we could complete just 100 more miles, we would achieve the XP Gold award for horse and rider teams completing over 1,000 miles on the XP rides. I consoled myself I only needed to complete two days to get over the hump, and just got through the ride.

Day 2

We left camp with all the other riders and got to riding with three or four limited distance riders. Somehow, in the midst of this group, I got complacent and didn't pay nearly close enough attention to the trail. We made a wrong turn (quite early in the ride, as it turned out) and ultimately ended up all by ourselves. The LD riders turned one way, and Hoss and I turned another way. It took me some time to realize we'd taken a wrong turn. By the time I was sure we were off trail (we were on trails marked for Day 3; at least we had trail markings) it was far too late to turn back and get straightened out.

Ultimately we made it back to the road. I decided we'd just follow the road, as I knew by this time Dave Nicholson and his crew would be out hunting for me, and I had changed directions after separating from the LD riders. They had been the last to see me, and would have told him which way they saw me go. By the time I'd turned around and gone a different way, they were long gone and their information would, effectively, be false. So Hoss and I trotted along the road, knowing we'd eventually make it back to camp even if we were not found.

Dave did find us about five miles shy of camp. He had been looking for us in a different place, based on the LD riders' information, as I had suspected he would. But, ultimately, we were on the "found" list. We stopped and chatted with Dave for a while. He told me it was our vet check, we'd done more like 55 miles, and we would get completion once we passed the vet check at camp. We continued on our way, passed the final check, and at the ride meeting, the distance we'd ridden had increased to 70 miles. I suspect the rum may have had something to do with that.

Day 3

I was disappointed to have missed out on the trail for Day 2, as it was supposed to have been very interesting and pretty, and now I had pretty much done everything we were supposed to do for Day 3. So, we really mostly did a repeat ride.

Hoss was a good boy, and didn't particularly mind doing the same trails again. We did end up teaming up with another horse and rider for much of the ride. Both of us were on our own, and our horses were pleased to get to be together for a while.

The vet check for Day 3 was in the middle of a beautiful open meadow with plenty of green grass. Since I hadn't used my crew bag from the previous day, I just left it to be taken back out, figuring it would have everything I'd left in it for the previous day. Well, it was sure good the vet check was in that meadow! The alfalfa hay in our crew bag had somehow vanished. I had nothing for Hoss except the bran mash, which had not been used. It was OK, as I don't think Hoss would have been interested in the hay anyway with all that lush grass around.

Day 4

After three straight days, I was pretty tired. It is not in me to leave something unfinished, so we got our butts in gear and got on the trail. At this point, the last day is a bit of a blur. I do know we had a great time and in end finished in 7th place. Of course, there weren't much over 10 horses in the ride, so it really does not represent a better finish than we usually have.

After four beautiful days, we got up early and packed up for home. I had an appointment in San Diego on Tuesday, so we had a single day to hammer it home. On that Tuesday, I would schedule my hip replacement for five weeks later, on November 13.