Monday, February 23, 2015

Darlene Anderson and SAR Tiki Rock On, Tevis 2014

Tevis...One Wild Ride, or, Just another Ride. It really is just that.

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!

Photo by Lynne Glazer Photography

The alarm went off at 3:30 am, startling me. I hadn't really expected to fall asleep. I got myself up off the bunk, lit the flame under the water which Max would make coffee for he and Ron, and a chai tea for me and went about the business of feeding the ponies. Rock was ready to eat, as he always is. I woke up Ramone with my rustling about and the boys were soon begging for their breakfasts. Nearby horses thought they should also have some O'Dark:30 breakfast. 

The night before I had sifted through my ride clothes, deciding if I should make any last minute decisions on what I had planned to wear. Max made a crack about my life being pretty good if this was my biggest worry. He was right. Max poured us cereal, yogurt and served up the beverages. Ron showed up about this time and we shared a quiet breakfast. No matter what Ron says, it's true, I am quiet from time to time. 

Heading outside it was still pitch dark, but you could hear the Robie Park ridecamp coming to life on this Tevis morning. I was going about removing Rock's blanket, admiring his braid job, and his shiny shiny hide, all the while telling him what an amazing Rock Star he is to me. I would do my best to bring him through this adventure unscathed. He asked for a few treats and stood quietly while I saddled him up. On either side of me, my Tevis ride partners were also saddling up. We had each attached a green glow light on the back of our saddles so we wouldn't lose track of one another in the dark. They worked really well. Almost too well! Before we knew it, we were ready to mount up and head off on the long walk to our start point, Pen One! On our prep ride the day before we figured out it would take us about 10 minutes to get down there. The horses moved along the road quietly and confidently. Rock led the march in his bold way. Ramone and Warrior followed his lead. 

As we neared the area where the Pen One horses were to gather, you could feel the energy bump up a notch. We had to give our Pen One cards to a ride volunteer at the "gate" to the Pen. Max and Ron had theirs ready. I had put mine in my pack the night before so I wouldn't lose it. I lost it. Then I nearly lost it! I was about ready to race back to our camp when I used the light on my cell phone to look down into my pack where I was sure I had put the card. AH HA, there it was, my heart racing, which caused Rock to become fussy as if wondering what had set me off. I can't believe I nearly panicked, but I did! I was all but headed back to camp to tear things up looking for this card! Handing it to the volunteer and giving them my number, I followed my ride partners into the Pen. Knowing it was about 9/10 of a mile to the actual start line, we chose to stand quietly on the edge of the chaos that was 60 horses going in manic circles in this small Pen! Celena and her friend stood by us and we quietly watched the goings on of all these hot horses going in carousel circles, where every 5 minutes or so someone would yell, "REVERSE!" causing them all to turn and go the other direction. It was controlled mayhem, and I was glad we didn't get in it. I could hear riders admonishing one another about this horse kicking or crowding their horse or that horse...I was happy to stand on the sidelines of all this and just watch. Rock was too, for a change! We had gathered at about 4:45 am, and at about 5 am, we began the march down to the Tevis start line. The horses filed slowly out of the Pen and began down the road. We were passed by a few people working their way towards the front, but we put our horses in a single file line, as we'd practiced at the Renegade Rendezvous ride, with Ramone in the front, then Rock, with Warrior taking up the rear. This worked well for Rock. He was between friends and was just mostly interested in getting going.

All 3 horses were quiet and purposeful. The controlled start seemed to go on forever, but finally there we were at the Tevis start line, with volunteers quietly herding us onto the Western States Trail. Within a tenth of a mile we were able to pick up a gentle jog trot. It was getting a little light by this time and we would see a grey horse just in front of us full on bucking with its rider! Like heels in the air, don't get close or you'll get nailed bucking! This went on for quite a while. Ron asked Max if we were going to pass the horse and rider pair, and Max's answer was a resounding "NO!" We laughed. Our moods were light and I have to say, professional, at this point. It was like we had a job to do, and were about getting it done, quietly and purposefully. Like our ponies. We wound down a beautiful two track to single track trail. There was quite a line of people behind us, but most seemed content to let the big red mule lead the way to highway 49. As we approached the highway, Ramone had done a beautiful job of leading thus far, but we crossed the highway we were faced with an echo'ey underpass that he was having no part of. Within 5 seconds of his refusal to move forward, I kid you not, people were hollering at us to get a moving! I quickly asked Rock to lead us through the underpass, which he did with some misgivings about the safety. After all, if Ramone thought it was scary and dangerous, it probably was. It wasn't. He came out the other side unscathed, made his way up and over the bridge and let Ramone take the lead once again. Ramone led us up the next climb expertly. It was narrow and steep in places, and we had people asking us for trail! Seriously?? I let them know,  in no uncertain terms, that we'd get out of their was just as soon as it was safe. I might have also mentioned that at this point of the game, they might not have a very good chance of winning this thing, so they may as well relax and enjoy their ride. Not sure how that went over, but the girls directly behind is found it humorous.

I was struck at how much this ride looked like one of our NW rides at this point. Beautiful single track winding through evergreen trees. All of a sudden we popped out of the woods, and found ourselves on this narrow trail that dropped onto a road which led us up through the Squaw Valley ski area. The road went up and up and up! We rode under the tops of ski lifts! There was a funny man sitting up on the embankment overlooking the road we were riding up, who the local and experienced Tevis riders said, "HI COWMAN!" to as we passed by. His funny horned headdress must have given him away as this Cowman person. Evidently he's run the Western States 100 on foot a number of times? My hat was off to him if so, because I was already daunted by the difficulty of this ride! Pretty soon the vegetation became scarce and we had passed the treeline, save for the scrubby squatty tuff little trees found in such placed where the wind and snow can be brutal in the winter. Before I knew it we were at one of the ski lifts, known as High Camp,  teeming with volunteers, water tanks, and a place to run and pee quick. Sidenote: Tevis riders are categorically NOT SHY!! If they have to go, they jump off their horses and go. No vanity, no shame. Gave me a chuckle. Offers to top off our water bottles came from the enthusiastic volunteers. They held horses and seemed to enjoy the chaos. Barely taking 5 minutes, we electrolyted our horses, and moved out. Warrior in the lead now. Warrior is Rock's full brother, one year older. He is a gentle giant of an Arab. When not winning and BC'ing endurance rides, he gives lessons to little girls named, Pancake, at the ranch. He carries Ron with a quiet wisdom I have seen in many SAR horses. He picked up a nice jog trot and away we went, up and up and up some more! Parts of this first brutal climb we did at the walk, like many other Tevis riders. We chatted amiably with Laura Hayes on her Seth horse. We saw Robert Ribley on Crow Pony, who used to belong to Molly Farkas. We all continued to make our way up this huge mountain to Watson's monument. As we crested the saddle of the mountain, where the monument is, Ron gave up the lead to Rock and I. I was so blown away from this entire experience that I didn't even realize we had just gone past the monument! It was only when I saw it in a picture I took of Ron and Max behind me later that I realized where we were at that time! 

Headed up over the top!

Oh look! There's Watson's Monument up there by Ron and Max!Oh look! There's Watson's Monument up there by Ron and Max!

Squaw Valley now behind us, we headed into the Granite Chief wilderness. The trail was a nice single track that rode along the ridge. Rock led with plenty of vim and vigor, making me rate him. He was telling me all about how he could make a dash for the front. No, Rock, we do this pace, my pace. He agreed to behave, giving me a shake of his opinionated head when he thought I was holding him back too much. We entered one of the "boulder fields" and I looked down to check his feet, and at that moment realized I had committed one of the mistakes that Michele Roush had warned me against! I had a moment of panic, then had to recover and hope that Rock would forgive me for forgetting to put on his rear interference boots that morning. I beat myself up for several miles about this and fretted all the way to Robinson Flats. I knew my awesome crew had boots with them. I just had to get my horse there unscathed. WHY oh WHY didn't I velcro those boots to my saddle, like I ALWAYS DO??? Damn rookie mistake anyway! Nothing to do now, but keep going. Rock took long swallows of water out of a couple of the natural creek crossings on the trail and swiped bites of high mountain scrub grass. Oh how I love this brave fit horse! 
Granite Chief glory.

We saw Lynne Glazer up there taking pictures, and Rock assured me it was ok to spread my wings and fly. What better place to soar than through the Granite Chief on a beautiful strong horse who can drive just fine without me! He must sense a camera a mile away because he smiled for the camera, as he always does,  and then we continued on down the trail at the steady clip he had found. 

Near 20 miles we came to Hodgson Cabin which was full of water tanks, horses, and some hay. Dr. Jamie Kerr was up there to watch the horses trot by. We went to the last tank which had no horses in it and Rock drank long and deep. In that time a man on an appy approached the tank and pushed his horse in to drink. The horse had other ideas, however, and insisted on nosing Rock, who was still trying to drink! I politely informed the rider that I had a very polite stallion on my hands. He said his horse was thirsty, all the while it was busy nosing Rock instead of drinking! Rock finally struck at the tank, earning himself a solid whack from me and a wet hoof for his efforts. I glared at the inconsiderate rider and backed Rock away from the tank. A volunteer held him while I dashed behind a tree near the tank. I was seething, but this was no time for a tantrum. I will never understand why people can be so rude and inconsiderate with their horses! Our horses grabbed a few bites while we took turns in the trees, and then soon enough, we mounted up and did our trot by, and headed back onto the trail. Some of the riders never left while we were there. I think we passed several people right there! 

The trail was gorgeous and it was again Ramone's turn to lead the way. He sets a very steady pace and we were all feeling good at this point. It didn't seem to take much time to pop out onto a ridge clearing and I realized that Cougar Rock was right in front of us. I watched a horse up ahead navigate the rock and made the decision I knew I would make for Rock and I. BUCKLE, not photo! Max, leading, chose to go around on Ramone, Ron and Warrior took on the rock, and I took the go around route. I looked up well over my head and watched Ron and Warrior and scared myself! I was happy I chose to go around! We all met up on the back side of Cougar Rock and continued on our way. Going over Elephant Trunk we met some new riders. One guy, a nice young guy, named Jeremy, was riding a beautiful little red mare. Very polite, we chatted a bit when he somehow ended up between Max, Ron and myself. We were still climbing! Rock was confident and barely paid Jeremy's little mare any mind. We crested a hill (MTN!) and we were back on a two track road. Max informed us that we were close to Red Star at this point.  Sure enough, we came around a corner, with Ron leading the way on foot, and there was our first vet check. Ron picked up  his time card and moved on through the water tanks and the vet line, ending up at the end of the trot out well ahead of Max and I. We had made it 28.5 miles into the Tevis Cup! I was here riding this ride on the most amazing horse! 

Several of the Tevis vet trots outs are different than the average endurance ride. You pick up a time slip with your number and your arrival time on it. You take this to the vet, give it to the scribe along with your ride card. They go over your horse, make their notes, and hand it all back, asking you to trot out. You trot one way, and then look back for their approval. If they say, "Go!" you move on to the water tanks and ample feed, and eventually the out timer. 

Max and I watered our horses. Volunteers quickly filled our water bottles. Michele and Sharon had instructed us not to take more than 15 minutes in these checks. After using the bushes again, we moved to the vets and requested to trot the boys together so Ramone would trot happier. The vets were happy to oblige our request. Both horse and mule received good scores. Rock's pulse was 48 to my astonishment! Our cards and time slips returned, we were ready to trot.  At the trot, both moved out forward and easy. I turned at the bottom of the trot out and looked back up to the vets. "My" vet was Dr. Tom Timmons from the NW. He yelled at us to "Send the mule back!"  WHAT?? NO!!! WHAT? "SEND THE MULE BACK!"  This can't be happening. Max turned Ramone and I shushed him a bit to get him trotting back up the hill since he was reluctant to leave Rock. Three steps into his return trot and I knew what was going on. Max and Ramone were getting pulled! My favorite big red mule was off in the right hind. I fought back tears and a momentary panic. THIS IS NOT HOW WE PLANNED THINGS! This can't be happening! I was helpless for about 5 seconds, when the survivor instinct kicked in and I knew I couldn't follow mule and rider back up the hill. Verboten. I turned, found Ron, who asked where Max was. I told him that Max was pulled. He was as surprised as I was. We had both followed the mule over the last 28 miles and there had been no sign of lameness whatsoever! We steeled ourselves, looked at our time, gave our horses the remainder of the 15 minutes we had allotted them to finish eating, handed our time slips to the out timers and mounted up. Robinson Flats or Bust, here we come. The Brothers, Rock and Warrior, moved out smoothly. It was nearly 8 miles to Robinson and at the Tevis, information and time can travel slowly.  We took turns in the lead and our boys just held a nice steady pace into Robinson. We caught up to Danny Grant again, riding together for a bit. 

As we approached Robinson Flats, it felt surreal. Coming into a cheering crowd of crew and well wishers was nearly overwhelming to me. I WAS AT TEVIS!! I JUST MADE IT INTO ROBINSON FLATS! I saw our crew chief, Carol, up the road. Michele and Tracy waving to us. The descended upon our brave horses. It was clear that Carol had assigned crew to each horse/mule. John Rosen came towards me and asked where Max was. I broke into tears, telling him that Max and Ramone got pulled at Red Star. Our crew was in disbelief too. News had not come down the mountain yet. I pulled myself together, and Michele and I went to vet Rock through. My beautiful boy stood quietly while his blood was drawn at the entry of the vetting area. Carol and Ron were just ahead of us. I was so happy and felt so privileged to have Michele Roush crewing for ME!! I'm a virtual nobody in this sport! I trotted Rock out for the vet and caught sight of my childhood best friend, Loretta, at the end of the trot lane. She and Missy, her sister in law had come to Robinson with John Rosen.  I was overcome! Rock vetted through like a champ, as did Warrior. We went to the prime real estate that was our vet check area. Our awesome crew had everything set up. I broke into tears again. This wasn't right! Max and Ramone were supposed to be here with us! Carol gave me a big hug, asked me if I was ok, or if it was emotion. Emotion, I assured her. She directed that my crew get me to eat something. This was a well oiled machine, despite "BAD CREW" being emblazoned on the "tailgate" of our gear cart. Both Warrior and Rock ate like the champs that they are. Ron and I had sandwiches and fruit. I had calmed down enough to regain my composure. I still had 74 miles to go. Rock needed me solid, not all emotional and teary. I sat there and watched our crew tend to the horses, keeping food in front of them, massaging them. Michele and Tracy put on Rock's interference boots after nursing his booboos (they weren't bad, but I sure felt bad!). Michele went between the horses, giving them a good going over to be sure both were doing ok. Loretta was clicking away with her camera, serving food, running to and fro with Missy, making sure that things were taken care of. John tended to Ron and I, filling our water bottles, checking our gear. It felt good to be so cared for!  Our hour seemed to drag by, which I knew was good for the horses, but soon it was time to mount up and head out. Refreshed, feeling better, I knew I'd see my riding partner down at Foresthill. I knew that Ramone would be ok and that his rider would be in full on Crew mode when I saw him again. Because, that's what I would do. 

Heading for Last Chance and the dreaded canyons, Rock felt strong and forward. I drew from his strength and moved forward. Ron wasn't far behind me and soon we were headed down Mosquito Ridge Rd at a good clip, both horses strong and forward. 

I was breathing! I was at TEVIS, and this incredible horse of mine had just passed the Robinson Flats vet check. We had a better than 50% chance of completing this thing if we rode right and took good care of our boys and kept the Gremlins at bay. 


Leaving Robinson Flats, about one minute ahead of Ron (it had been suggested we split up to save both horses), Rock never looked back, he just headed up the trail in his usual very business like manner, straight and true, always forward. I soon caught up with a gal on a beautiful TALL Morab, who I was most impressed with. Having done many of my first AERC miles on a brave lil Morab, named FeatherB, I appreciate that breed combination very much. We chatted a bit about our horses, and trotted companionable together for a bit. Within about 3 miles of leaving Robinson, Ron and Warrior came trotting up behind us, also all business! I introduced them to my new friend, and then we headed on down the road. Soon, Ron was in the lead, eating up the road like a boss, with the gal in between us. I looked at my GPS and saw the speed we were doing and had a very small internal panic attack! This was going to be about another 7 miles of this slight downhill on a gravel road! I backed Rock off the pace a bit and decided to let the other two go on ahead. Rock obliged quickly and soon we were back to about a 9 mph pace. I watched Ron and the other gal pull head a bit, then saw Ron's head turn slightly, as if to be saying something to the rider behind him, who he presumably thought was me...and then I saw his head snap around when he realized it WASN'T me, and I laughed a little. It was comedic, this picture of him figuring out it wasn't me right behind him. Soon Warrior pulled from the side of the road, into the middle, and he gestured the gal to pass him. He then slowed his pace and waited for Rock and I to catch up! We laughed about it a bit, then he informed me that his camelback, which he was kind of liking, was leaking...leaking right down the middle of his backside. Evidently, he didn't find this too comfortable because we stopped and he ended up stripping the thing off in the middle of the road and checking the plug, only to find it askew. Fixing it, he put it back on, got back on Warrior, and off we went again. 

Soon, we trotted into Dusty Corners, which wasn't all that dusty. The Boys drank up heartily. My water bottles got topped off, and I had time to duck into the port-o-potty. Happy me! Soon, we were off and trotting again, primarily downhill. We both decided to do a bit of this downhill on foot. After a bit we got back on and continued. The trail started through a major part of the burn area. We both found it rather erie. No birds singing or calling, and it was really dry. Winding trail with good footing was a welcome change from the 9 miles of gravel road we had just come down. The Boys seemed to enjoy it too. 
Approaching Devil's Thumb
Approaching Pucker Point
Before we knew it we arrived at Last Chance, which was a gate and go. Both horses breezed through the vet check, giving them more time to gobble as much food as they could. WE JUST DID 50 MILES OF THE TEVIS CUP ON HORSES THAT STILL LOOKED INCREDIBLE!! We tried to keep true to the time prescribed to us by our Tevis Mentors and stayed at each of these "stop and go's" approximately 15 minutes since the horses were eating well. This seemed to serve The Brothers SAR well. What we had figured out, a major discovery at this point, was to give the Boys a dose of electrolytes at the water stops that were always a mile or so before the vet checks. This worked wonderfully, because when we hit the vet checks, both horses ate and drank like champs, always vetting through expertly. 

Leaving Last Chance, the Brothers felt great. We felt great. The trail felt good. We had a couple of riders around us who informed us when we went around Devil's Thumb a few miles later. I got a couple of good pictures there, of Ron and Warrior on that precipice of a turn. I did look down, and it was amazing. I will say, I never doubted Rock's footfalls all day. He's incredible. I let him pick where his feet went and he never let me down. 

All too soon, we arrived at Deadwood, where again the boys vetted awesomely. Rock was pulsed in at 50 bpm, had great gut sounds and showed no sign of letting up in his eating. Shellie Hatfield took Rock's pulse there, and exclaimed that we were going too slow because Rock was looking incredible to her, pushing us around and eating heartily. That made me feel so good! I've respected Shelly and her horses for a long time! Warrior was right beside him, powering down the provided mash, bite for bite with Rock. They even shared a dish at times. Good brothers, and great trail mates. Ron and I knew this was it, we had done 55 miles and the hardest part of this trail (for us, we thought at the time) was in front of us, imminently in front of us! It was only 7.5 miles to MIchigan Bluff, but that entailed two bugger canyons! El Dorado canyon, here we come, ready or not! 

Both of us got off when we figured out the trail was descending quickly. Jogging lightly at first, we alternated jogging and walking. I was SO glad for the shoes my mom had made me buy right about then. That and the thick Danner socks saved my feet! The only thing going any way wrong for me was the small amount of dirt that worked into my shoes and rubbed the TOPS of my toes! That canyon seemed to go down forever. Finally reaching the river at the bottom, in what seemed like HOURS later, we both got on and entered that wonderful water! Sponging our drinking boys, we cooled off for a moment and then...yea, headed up that canyon. Ron immediately got off Warrior and began tailing up the hill. Not to be outdone by an "Old Guy", I got off Rock and began tailing him too. Ron made it over half way up that canyon, like 2/3 up and me...well, I made it about 2/10 of a mile and was convinced I was DYING! Gagging and seizing up, I felt my age and lack of fitness reach up and bite my sizable butt! I spent a few fruitless minutes hoping that maybe Ron would buckle and get back on his horse, but NO...he kept going and going. I folded, drug my sorry arse back on Rock, who I'm sure had a chuckle at my meager effort. Yea, I'm tuff alright, that canyon kicked my butt and I wasn't even half way up!! It went on forever, I swear...and I watched Ron trudge on, listened to him breathe, and was a little jealous that I didn't have that in me. My hat was off to the man, he's an animal! Mercifully, we arrived at the top of that first canyon to find full water tanks, some with alfalfa in them, which I discovered that Rock LOVED! Ron and I filled our bottles, ate some of the most wonderful watermelon ever, and after about 15 minutes, got back on and headed out, slightly refreshed. 
The Brothers, chowing down at Deadwood.The Brothers, chowing down at Deadwood.

The horses looked great for that effort. Me...not so much. I was chanting WTHWIT (What the HELL was I THINKING)??? over and over in my head, as we dismounted, AGAIN, and descended into the second canyon! Step by step, feeling the little dirt particles eating the skin off the tops of my toes, WTHWIT??? one foot after another, down we went.  We were moving right along when we heard a girl crying, wailing, carrying on, we came around a corner to find a young woman clinging to her horse's neck, crying, frozen on the trail. The very narrow trail. The gal behind me quietly made the point that her horse wouldn't stand quietly for long, so I very nicely tried to suggest that we were all having tough moment in this ride, an I knew she must be having a tough time, but the gal behind me was on a horse that wasn't going to be patient much longer, so maybe she could take a big breath and try to walk it off a bit. She told Ron that her horse had shoved her off the trail in his haste to keep up with his pal. This, understandably, scared the bejeezus out of her. I was proud of her for pressing on though. She soon got back on her horse and pressed on. They moved on ahead and soon we couldn't see them anymore. When we arrived at the creek crossing at the bottom, the girls were there, and that girl's horse had badly twisted a shoe, which we found out later that Paul Sidio had fixed up for her so she could go on to finish WELL ahead of us! That's a spirit I really admire in a ride like this. People carrying on when they think they can't, and people giving of their precious supplies and time when it might jeopardize their own finish. 

At the creek, I heard a rider ask the volunteers how far it was to the top of this canyon. "Oh, about 2.5 miles" was the reply. I died a little inside. Again, Ron was off trudging up the hill, determined to help his Warrior out as much as possible. I cannot tell you...I've always admired this man for a variety of reasons. I respect, and even fear him a little, but this day, he impressed me to tears. I couldn't do what he did. I TRIED!! What seemed like an eternity, went by, and we just trudged, step after step, with Ron eventually, near the top getting back on Warrior. More water and hay, and lovely volunteers at the top!! 

Only one "little" canyon to go til we got to Michigan Bluff. I kept reminding myself of what I had read in Sandy Cheek's account of her Tevis adventure last year. Pat Hallmark had told her, it'll seem to take forever, but look for the manzanita. When you get to the manzanita, you're near the top. I nearly wept when I saw the manzanita!! I said, "RON, the manzanita!!! We got to the manzanita!" "HUH?? What are you TALKING about??" was all he could say. "Sandy and Pat said to watch for the manzanita, and we'd be near the top of this one!" We went through a big green gate, and there was another full water tank! We had conquered the canyons!!!! Ron looked so wiped out, but Warrior looked most thankful. Rock was pragmatic, and I was most thankful. Soon we were on the blacktop going into Michigan Bluff.  I cried a little, I admit, when we topped a little hill and I saw Michele Roush and John Rosen waiting for us at Michigan Bluff! They were so encouraging!! I am breaking out in goosebumps as I write this and remember how very happy I was to see them cheering us on, exchanging my empty water bottles with ice old ones! They HOORAHED us and told us to get a going, ON TO CHICKENHAWK!!! Newly energized from our 5 minute break, we left at a gentle trot and made our way to Chickenhawk, which was near the top of a formidable little climb. There, waiting for us, were two more of our Tevis Angels, Becky Fiedler, who, on her awesome BRR Aurber Lights, had won Tevis a few years ago, and Becky's sister in law...I nearly cried again. They helped us cool the Brothers, and worked us through the vet check, and fed the Boys. Then Becky gave us the virtual slap on the @$$ and sent us on our way to Foresthill, a  loooong 4 miles away. 

As we rode into Foresthill, Ron was clearly feeling a bit whooped, and I know I was! Ron got off again though, and walked about a mile into the vet check. I knew I'd collapse if I tried to impress him and do the same. There was John Rosen again!! Walking towards us full of business. I waved him by and sent him back to Ron. Riding up that road into the vet check, Rock was bright, alert and seemed to sense the cameras because his game face was firmly in place.  People I didn't know in person were cheering Rock and I on! I saw people I had only "met" on facebook, cheering us on. It was a very heady moment, and I hope I get to return that favor at some point! 
Coming into Foresthill on a bright boy!
~Photo by Lisa Peck
Coming into Foresthill on a bright boy! ~Photo by Lisa Peck

There at the top, at the corner was the best crew in the entire world. I saw Max's hat before I saw any of their faces, but I wept with joy at seeing them. I jumped off Rock and jogged that last bit towards them! Carol, Michele, Tracy, Loretta, Missy, and Max descended upon our horses. It was first class treatment! As we rounded the corner into the vet check area, DeWayne Brown appeared and gave me a big hug and told me how proud he was of us. I held it together as we pulsed the horses. The Team stripped the tack off the Brothers and cooled them expertly. Michele and Tracy again took Rock and we got his pulse, 56 (!!!). Michele walked with me to the vet area, and I vetted this most amazing horse through. He blazed through that vet check like he was in the winning position. NO doubts whatsoever about his fitness to continue. With a CRI of 48/48, I knew that the Rock Star was living every bit up to the name I've given him! I had never loved a horse more than I loved Rock at that moment when I made the turn and trotted him back. Michele's grin told me all I needed to know. Ron and Warrior vetted through, right behind us and we were escorted to our spot in the shade. The Crew worked on our ponies, while Loretta and Missy made sure I ate something. Lynne and Shawn were giving us AttaBoys, and it all felt really good. 

Max ushered us to the waiting shower. He was in very good spirits for having been pulled at Red Star Ridge. I was proud to be his friend for that. I've had friends get pulled at rides, way less "important" than Tevis and behave way worse. Max made sure that Ron and I showered and changed into fresh clothes for the last portion of our Tevis ride. Oh my hell...I've never had a shower that felt so heavenly!! Those clean clothes and SOCKS felt so good!!! My feet thanked everyone for that! DeWayne came over and rubbed on the Boys a bit. Ron's team felt he should change saddles for the remainder of the ride. The thought did not excite him. At all.  It seemed too soon that the Crew saddled up our Boys, set us back on top and escorted us to the out timers, giving us hugs, and giving us big hoorahs!  

The out timers released us, and off we went, Rock's glow "eyes" lit up, onto the streets of Foresthill. It was dark now, and rather erie. The Boys weren't impressed by much of Foresthill, but Ron and I chatted quietly and encouraged the boys forward. People were still gathered in town, cheering us on the entire way until the trail opened up again, and we began a dark descent. Rock was in the lead and seemed to love it. He felt so good! 

I spent a bunch of my time at Tevis thinking, WTHWIT?? (What the HELL was I THINKING??). And while this amazing Rock horse just kept on going and showed no signs of letting up, my fortitude was taking a beating. 

Ron, Warrior, Rock, and me, left Foresthill in the near dark. The cut off times were on my mind, but Michele and Tracy didn't bring them up while we were at Foresthill, so I became determined to just keep trudging on and get this thing finished. When I was trying to drag my sorry arse up the first canyon the thought had crossed my mind, WTHWIT?? What WAS I thinking?? This is a tough ride! And yet, my horse was making his way through it like he was bred to it (He IS! His half brother is SAR Tiki Stranger, after all! AERC 5000 mile Super Horse!). 

Tracy had warned me about the "dust fog" that might envelope us as we headed out of Foresthill. Because we were relying on the "glow eyes" that had been clipped on Rock's breast collar, and NOT my headlamp, (that I relied on so much at the Big Horn 100 in 2010!), I was completely trusting Rock to get us from vet check to vet check safely. Ron and Warrior clip clopped on behind us. I was shocked more than once to look behind me and see Ron on foot again! Me, No. Rock was on his own from here on out. I was close to wiped out. Kathie Perry caught up with us, and passed us. We had already been passed by a few of my heroes, among them, Barbara White, daughter to the Grande Dame of Tevis, Julie Suhr. It occurred to me that I had begged Barbara for one of her many Tevis buckles IF I finished this WTHWIT ride! I couldn't even think about that right now because there were so many miles to get through. Many of my friends and mentors have been pulled  between Foresthill and the finish! I know it's not a guarantee to finish if you clear Foresthill!

So, we're trudging down this hill, after Ron had asked me, quite simply, and without explanation (which I DID NOT ask for), if I was willing to ask Rock to lead the last 30'some miles of this ride. "Yes" I answered, "Rock has it in him". He told me that if Rock needed a break, that he was sure Warrior could do it. I thanked him quietly and we rode on in silence for a few miles. We were winding downhill and Rock was progressing at a nice jog trot, just getting the miles done. Three times though, Rock did something quite amazing in the dark out there. He stopped. Abruptly. The first time he stopped I was confused, so I turned on my head lamp (After the 2010 Big Horn 100, I will NEVER embark on a 100 mile ride without a headlamp!). When I turned on the light, I was surprised to see a wall of brush in front of us. I looked to my right and realized we were on a switchback. Rock had lost track of the trail in the dark and quite simply...stopped. I love him to pieces for being so smart. When I turned on my light and looked to my right, and realized we were on that switchback, he realized it simultaneously, and dove to his right and continued on down the trail. The second time he stopped, I turned on my headlamp and saw nothing but Tracy's DUST FOG!! I looked and looked, leaning off Rock to see what had caused him to stop! Finally, I got off and was hunching down to see what the hold up was. When I was nearly face to the ground, I realized there was a very small creek crossing the trail and a craggy rock passage. I showed it to Rock, who eagerly LEAPED up it, stomping my sneakered left foot with his rear foot in the process! OUCH!!!! Ow ow ow!!! Walk it off..."Uh, hey, when it's safe, could you folks step aside and let us by?" REALLY??? WE'RE ON A SINGLE TRACK TRAIL IN THE DARK!!!!! REALLY???  Ahem, "uh, sure, as soon as it's SAFE, I'll move over and let you folks by. Ron said nothing, which is rather out of character for him! 

Once my foot was stomped, I followed Rock to a point where I could get back on. I let Ron know what was there, and he let Warrior work his way up that spot. Soon the horses were jogging along nicely again. There were three riders RIGHT behind us, eager to get by as soon as possible. We came out on a forest service road, FINALLY, and indicated they should go by. I have to tell you, I was in shock when I realized who was pressing us so hard! These people have LOTS of miles and many of them were right here!! They knew we wouldn't be able to get out of their way!! I was appalled they had pressed us so hard to pass! And, of course, the last horse to pass was that appy from Hodgson's Cabin who had nosed Rock so rudely and repeatedly at the water tank! I was open mouthed shocked. Getting over that, we bid them a fond farewell and jogged along again, not being pressed. Rock again stopped on trail in this area, and when I turned on my headlamp, it shown to an abyss! I never loved my horse more than I did in that moment. I showed him the trail to the right, since we were on a switchback again, and he eagerly (WHERE DOES HE GET THIS??) took off at a nice paced jog again!
Too soon, our horses, who were moving along freely and nicely, butted up against a crowd of three horses (THOSE THREE!) who would just stop and walk for no good reason. I kept my mouth shut and walked along behind them, telling myself  that the rest was good for Rock and Warrior. They took off finally, and left us in peace. 

We were in the trees, in the VERY dark, and all of a sudden, popped up on this road!  I don't know...what I do know is that I was feeling light headed and queasy. Rock and Warrior drank eagerly from the tanks offered. I think Ron and I gave them a dose of electrolytes. Getting back on took effort, even from the side of the tank! I was light headed and queasy, and not quite sure why! I reflected on this for quite a while. I had drank a ton of electrolytes, ate judiciously, and tried, in general, to take good care of myself! I decided I couldn't waste time fretting about it, I just had to take as good of care of myself as possible and press on. Rock felt amazing, so I decided to draw a little strength from him. Danny Grant passed us again on his amazing mare. He gave us much needed encouragement. I knew that if we were still within shouting distance of The Danny Grant, that we still had a good shot of finishing on time. Pretty soon we were trotting along what I knew to be a beautiful piece of side trail, emerging from the twisty technical trail we had been on for quite some time. 

About this point, we were high up on this side trail, and I kept catching glimpses of some bright lights down, WAY DOWN, below us. I thought to myself, "There is a truck down there, doing about the same speed we are!"  One thing I think I know for sure is that a horse, like a car, will go where you are looking. If I spent too much time gawking at the bright lights down there, I might well convince my horse to look down there too! I decided to take  a risky chance and look. WHOA!!! It was the full moon reflecting off the American River!! I realized that in a split second and relayed my discovery to Ron, who may or may not have appreciated it fully at that moment. Hard telling. He was pretty quiet.

We moved into open ground, still on blatant side trail. I was aware of hillside to our immediate right, and sharp downhill side to our immediate left. What was incredible was the full moon on that river. That was my first favorite moment of this ride. I wanted to look down and take it all in, but I was afraid I'd encourage Rock to look down and he was going along at about 8.5mph, which was WAY TOO FAST for my liking. One thing I know about my horse, though, is that if I check him when he's rolling along happy, he'll throw his head sideways in protest. I also know that horses will tend to let their bodies follow their heads when they are feeling froggy. Rock was letting me know, in no uncertain terms, that HE HAD THIS, and I was to sit up there obediently and let him do his job. The job I paid him to do, which was keep us out of trouble in the dark. I was starkly aware of the trail going by so fast in the full moonlight! Ron and Warrior were completely quiet and business-like behind us. I will say again, that full moon on the American River, well, it's an unparalleled sight.  Simply amazing. 

We entered a quick stand of trees, catching up to the riders who had passed us in the dark on that narrow trail earlier. Danny was there too, telling us, I think, that we had reached Bath Road and that Francisco's was imminent. Their horses were walking, and Rock and Warrior pretty clearly told us they preferred to jog up this road. Fine with us! LIGHTS!! We reached the top of this road and it was awash in lights and horses.  We had reached Franciscos, and the fact that we were now 85 miles into the TEVIS CUP was not lost on me. I was weak, I was nauseous, and I was ready to be off this horse for a minute, even though his behavior was absolutely stellar to this point! Me...I was weak. I admit, I was about to my buckling point. It was after midnight now, and I was a whooped pup! 

My horse pretty much breezed through this check point, while I, on the other hand, had fully hit the wall. Rock pulsed in with a 52. I can't even imagine what my pulse might have been, but I'm pretty sure I was on the way to a major tie up! MIchelle had preached over and over to make sure to not waste time at these checks. We had 15 minutes to pull ourselves (MYSELF) together, get back on and get a' goin. I presented Rock to the vet, right behind Danny, who was so damn cheerful, and Rock did so damn good! The vet did cram her had under his saddle, which he took offense to. He earned a "C" on his back/withers for that one. I nearly cried. I was so damn weak at this point, that I was dreading the trot out. I psyched myself out though, and faked it. Yes I did. I told Rock I was fine, I lifted my knees and trotted us through that vet check like I owned the damn thing. It nearly dropped me. My beautiful amazing horse got all A's on his gut sounds at this check. When we were cleared, we made our way through this melee' to find a pan of mash, one of the only remaining pans of mash and Rock ate heartily. A wonderful volunteer made sure my horse's pan was full, and held onto him while I used the bathroom and went to find the food table. They had made sandwiches, turkey, veggie, and ham for the riders. And, lots of cut up watermelon. I gobbled a cup full of watermelon and took half a sandwich, which, the very though of nauseated me. I heard Ron calling my name in his big voiced, All Bark No Bite, way, and located him in the herd of horses. Warrior's nose was also buried in a pan of mash. Ron offered me a turkey sandwich, which the very sight of made me want to hurl! "No thank you!" I gulped, and ate more watermelon. I spent much of that vet check hunkered next to my brave horse, trying to get my strength back.
I will just come out and say it. 
I felt nasty, but I hunkered next to my horse and willed him to keep eating. He didn't need any encouragement from me! I told Ron it was time for us to move towards the out timers. He agreed, and we worked our way though the crowd. I was humbled since I had watched a man come in, hand his horse to a volunteer, and say that he quit. He didn't think it was fair to ask his horse to carry him to the finish. He had lots of horse and no rider left. In that moment, this man was my hero. Me though...I hadn't quite reached this point. I drug myself up onto someone's pickup tail gate and got myself onto Rock's back. Carol's wise words about not letting my own weakness bring my horse down, I worked hard to ride right and let Rock know I had his back. I wouldn't let him down after all he had done for me.  He was already moving, as if to tell me to quit my whining. We had miles to do! Ron pulled himself up on Warrior. Clearly we were in about the same shape, but he never whimpered, never complained, never gave any indication that he might be suffering. Warrior took up his cause and had decided to get them to the finish, no matter what.  Ron and I...we were quite a pair to draw to at this point! We were cleared for take off by the out timers. Our horses picked up a nice jog, and we were off.

I'll just come out and say it. I got spoiled by those "every 5 mile" check points back at the hellish canyons! When I was told it would be NINE WHOLE MILES to Lower Quarry, I nearly cried...again. Rock pretty much told me to suck it up. He felt SO good leaving that vet check! Me...not so much. I realized after we had left that I had forgotten to fill my water bottles. Sad face. I knew it wouldn't take much to dehydrate myself. I comforted myself with the fact that it was only a few miles to Poverty Bar and the American River Crossing. Ron was still very quiet and Warrior just moved along amiably with Rock. Ron and I agreed on the every five miles thing though! It seemed like it was a long ways to Poverty Bar, but the moon was up, and very bright. We pretty much walked the uphill and trotted level and any slight downhill. We hit a spot where it was a two track road and the Boys picked up their pace. As we approached the spot, we knew we were there by the loud music and happy people running the check! I decided right then, even in a haze of exhaustion, that if I ever get to go volunteer at the Tevis Ride, I want to go to Poverty Bar! Those people had the music up high, a few beers goin' on, and they were having fun! One of them asked me if I needed my water bottles filled, and did I want a beer! Oh man, usually, I'm not one to turn down a good beer, but um, heck no!! I wanted water! 

We let the boys drink their fill, eat a bit, and then headed for the crossing through the American River. The Boys both plunged into the water with no hesitation! The crossing was light like a runway, and they moved confidently and happily across the river, heads down taking in water. My toes felt the river and they were happy.  It was only 5 miles to the Lower Quarry, but it seemed to go on an on. I was happy for the full water bottles, but I was still fighting some nausea. I snacked on some Mike and Ikes I found in my saddle pack. I loved Carol so much at that moment for making sure I had those in my pack! There wasn't much conversation between Ron and I at that point, but we knew what our goal was. Finish!! 
Max had told me we'd see the Lower Quarry long before we'd get there and he was right! It looked like a small city off in the distance. We were nearly finished with the Tevis Cup!!! My heart quickened and for the first time in a few miles I felt good again. Full of hope and excitement! Those lights sustained me for awhile. 

"It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out; it's the grain of sand in your shoe." ~Robert W. Service

"If we did all the things we were capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." ~ Thomas Edison

"He is able who thinks he is able"  ~Buddha

As Ron and I approached the Lower Quarry vetcheck, at 94 miles of the Tevis Cup, the queasiness I'd been feeling took a break, and was replaced with goosebumps and anticipation. The road we were on when we saw the "little city" of Lower Quarry was wide and clearly navigable in the moonlight, so Ron and I put the Boys in a brisk trot until we were quite literally above Lower Quarry. The vet check was abuzz in the bright light! Horses trotting out, horses in a big line, eating from buckets of mash, provided by the volunteers. Dishes of cut fruit and fresh water awaited us!

We dismounted and walked into the check, gathered our time cards and moved directly to the vet line. Rock trotted out smartly, AGAIN!  He was way fresher than I was, and I nearly cried with relief and admiration for this horse! I stood by closely as Ron trotted out Warrior, who also trotted out purposefully.  As the vet was going over Warrior, I was doing a quick visual check of his shoes and realized that Warriors left hind shoe was twisted! OH NO!! Do I say something? We're going up a gravel road a couple of miles to the highway crossing. I wonder if this thing can make it to the finish...(ARE YOU KIDDING ME??). I waited to see if the vet noticed. He didn't. I didn't say anything to Ron, because quite frankly, I wasn't sure either of us had the physical strength to put a boot on, and that shoe was still attached with some nails. Quickly looking at Rock's shoes, which were thankfully strongly intact, I decided to see if the offending shoe on Warrior would "wear" itself off, and then we could get a boot on easier. I knew that both of us had packed an easyboot, so it wouldn't be a problem to get one on him when the shoe fell off. Hopefully. 

Taking Rock to the last pan of mash in the line of horses, it became evident that the mash was running low. We parked near the bags they had been scooping from. Rock licked the pan placed in front of him clean, and proceeded to start trying to help himself from the near empty bags in front of his dish. This delighted me to no end! Another wonderful Tevis volunteer scooped as much out of the bags as she could and wet it down for Rock, who showed her his appreciation by licking every last bit out of the bowl. I had as much watermelon as I felt was polite to eat, and watched the clock, so that Ron and I left on the 15 minute mark, or as close as possible, since both horses were eating voraciously. 

Time to go! I drug myself up from the position I had taken up on the ground, next to my horse, and looked for the mounting block. In trying to find my way to the out timer, I realized that I had gone "against the grain" of horses, and ended up on the opposite side of where I was supposed to be, over there where Ron and Warrior were waiting for me! We both clumsily drug ourselves back on our horses and bid farewell and a big thank you to the volunteers.  As we headed out of the vet check, I watched Warrior pick up the trot, to see if the twisted shoe was going to cause him injury. It was turned in such a way that I felt ok about leaving it, and not saying anything to Ron yet. 

The horses were so forward!! I constantly marvelled at how forward they had been the entire day. It was, and still is, incredible to me, that a horse can carry a rider, sizeable riders in some cases, and bring them through this ride! I felt as if I had been ridden by Rock at times! 

The Boys trotted enthusiastically up the road, reaching the highway crossing, were I expected to see our crew. I had met the horses I crewed for there a few times! It is always so cool to see "your" horse coming up that road, glowsticks floating eerily in the dark, and cheering them on as they crossed the highway and embarked on the last 4 miles of the Tevis Cup. WHAT?? NO CREW TO MEET US?? I was astounded! There were more volunteers, however, to show us across the trail entrance. We barely slowed, and began up the twisting trail. This was new territory for me. I have never ridden or hiked any of the Tevis trail, so it was all new to me. I knew we had 4 miles to go, and I knew it was pretty much all uphill. I had gotten Max's description, Amanda's description, Michelle and Tracy's descriptions...and I had a cool set of "glow balls" on Rock's breast collar, so off we went. Rock was attempting to go so fast, STILL! I was trying to rate my very forward horse, and he was doing what he typically does, which is to say, he threw his head in protest. In the process he dropped his hind end off the trail as we navigated a turn to the left. My heart dropped out! I leaned hard forward and Rock pulled his back half back on the trail. My heart pounding in my throat, I wondered if Ron had even seen what just happened. I knew it wasn't one of those drop offs like we had seen earlier, around Devils Thumb, but I also knew I didn't know how far down it went or how knarly it was. I was just happy that Rock recovered himself! Then I began fretting about the possibility of his having pulled a muscle or something! As I was pondering this, I didn't give Rock any real time to think about any of it, we just proceeded on. We came around a corner and the trail dropped off onto a road AT NO HANDS BRIDGE!! I don't know why I was surprised, but I was. A loud cheering took up and I realized that some crews had gathered there to cheer on riders! It felt so good! Hey, that's OUR Crew cheering us on!! It's like waking up from a long sleep to hear your name being hollered in the dark by happy voices!

It was here that I decided to turn on my head lamp and have a look at Warrior's shoe, which was now badly twisted. I finally told Ron, and we decided to stop, remove what was left of the shoe, hoping we didn't take any hoof wall off, and put a boot on for the final miles. As Ron held the boys, I wrangled with the shoe, then the boot, took a final look, and decided we were good to go. 

Not far now!! We headed off across No Hands Bridge, and I broke out in goosepimples. OMG, I'm on NO HANDS BRIDGE ON THIS AMAZING HORSE, WHO IS SHOWING NO SIGNS OF LETTING UP!! No picture could have ever conveyed our feelings at this point. I'm pretty sure that both Ron and I knew the Boys had it in them if we just took it easy and coasted into the finish. the dark...on a narrow trail. Hmmmm

Amanda's trail description was on my mind at this point, and I knew we had the road for awhile, then went to narrow trail. I kept chanting, in my mind, "4 miles to go 4 miles to go..."  As we rolled gently along on our willing horses, we approached a horse and rider walking along. I announced that we were coming up on their left, and we jog trotted by. The rider barely acknowledged us, but I figured it was because they were exhausted, like us! We took a turn and ended up on twisty trail. At this point, more riders approached us from behind. It was Lucy Chaplin Trumble on her husband's buckskin! I don't know why, but it delighted me to "see" Lucy out there, still going also. The riders passed us and moved on up the trail. This gave me confidence and we stuck behind them a little ways. Pretty soon I could see that Lucy had gotten off her horse and had walked down a hill. She was struggling to get back on and the rider she had been with had vanished. I offered for us to stop while she got back on, which she accepted. Once back on her horse, Lucy moved out ahead of us again. I saw a bright light up ahead of us, as we came out of the oak trees again and realized it was a water tank underneath the light!  The boys attacked that water! They drank and drank. A rider came up on us, and I realized it was Carla Eigenauer! Whoa!! What is Carla doing "back here" with us? She just chuckled and said she was tired and just wanted to be done with this ride, same as us! We backed away from the water, but stuck around while her horse drank. When he was finished we headed out, down the last couple miles of this ride.  We frequently checked the status of Warrior's hind boot, which was staying on just fine, to my joy and relief!

After awhile of trotting I looked behind us and saw that Carla had slowed her pace. I thought she had been behind us, so I was mildly surprised at this. I hoped she was ok. Oh look! There's Lucy again! She was moving along quietly. We asked for trail and moved past her and proceeded up what was the last portion of the trail. It was narrow and there were tree roots beneath our feet, and tree limbs above our heads. The moonlight was filtered through the oak branches and it was absolutely beautiful. 

Hey...I hear voices!! As we rounded a corner, the lights of the Auburn Staging Area were bathing the hillside in diffuse light as we came out of the trees. We trudged on up the hill to some people cheering on the riders, while waiting for "their" rider. There was our Crew, hooting and hollering for us! As we handed our cards to the timers, I saw that we crossed the finish line at 4:05 am, or so. Something like that.  ;)

Michelle and Tracy took their place at Rock's head, and I began crying. This was incredible. I had just navigated this horse through some of the roughest toughest country in the United States! Carol and John were at Warrior's side. Ron slid off his horse and walked down the hill to McCann stadium with his crew. Rock had carried me this far, and I knew I was exhausted myself. I figured I would fall flat on my face if I tried to be tough right now. Michelle urged me to stay put. 

As we entered through the fence to McCann stadium, Ron was put back on his horse, and we entered the track together to do our victory lap. I was crying because Rock still felt so strong!  We picked up a brisk trot, even cantered a little ways. The boys were eyeballing everything and felt quite fresh! I was happy, so happy I was bawling inside. Ron and I took hands and finished the Tevis Cup as we had finished the Renegade Ride, together. The only thing missing was Max and Ramone. 

I leaped off of Rock at the "out" gate and turned him over to the crew. Max and then Loretta gave me the biggest hug ever and that made me cry! Oh my gosh, I have the best friends ever. The best crew ever, the BEST HORSE EVER! The crew sprung into action, took the tack off the boys, checked Warrior's boot, and guided us to the vet area. 

The same vet who had decreed that Rock's back was sore WAY BACK at Francisco's was our finish line vet. My heart dropped a little, but Michelle reassured me that Rock was fine, super fine, and we would get our completion. She let me trot him out, and I did my best to show my horse I could trot out as good as he could. WE DID THIS!! One of the ride photoghraphers, Lisa Peck, caught a picture of Rock at that exam, and later, I couldn't believe just how bright he was!! That horse had "another loop" in him, I am sure of it!  Ron and Warrior also got their completion, deservedly so. WE DID THIS!! 

Rock ROCKED Tevis, and brought me along for the ride. I am deeply indebted to him for that. 

I was in a daze as my crew took my horse to the stall they had prepared for him. They gave him some deserved TLC, wrapped his legs, rubbed him down and gave him a big mash.

Max was finally able to drag me off to the camper, and practically shoved me into the shower. He told me I smelled bad and then went to bed. He was pretty exhausted too. 
I conceded to a shower, put some sweats on, and yes, I meandered back to the stalls to see my horse. There he was all snuggled down in his stall. He regarded me cooly, and returned to his nap. He's that kind of boy. I finally took myself back to the camper and fell asleep, deeply. I only slept a few hours, like 4 or so. I wanted to see the BC judging! 

We all met up and watched a very entertaining Haggin Cup judging. Max said one of the other riders put on a "good show", but that the junior rider, Barrack Blakeley, one of our NW riders deserved it in his opinion. First Barrack, then Tom Johnson. That was Max's call. 

Loretta and I went to take the Rock Star for a walk and graze him a bit. He looked so damn good!! He looked way better than I felt! We took care of packing our gear up so we could go and stay at Sharon and Robert's place that night. We went ahead and hauled the horses over and let them out to run around the pastures there and I was amazed again at how great Rock looked! He roared around the pasture and carried on as if he had never done the Tevis Cup! I cried. I love this horse. 

We all got cleaned up and headed back to McCann stadium for the awards. The food was pretty good, and the sight seeing was awesome. Barbara White, my hero, Dave Rabe, another hero, and so many other riders who had conquered Tevis. Our crew looked smashing in their bright red SAR shirts. Carol and Ron had a batch of Sabiq Arabian Ranch shirts done up before we headed out and wow, did they look great! 

As the food was done and the awards commenced, they announced the Haggin Cup winner, Barrack Blakeley!! That young man is so humble! He thanked Easy Care for sponsoring the junior Tevis Riders, and then he thanked his family. A very good kid, well raised. His Haggin Cup win was well deserved! 

The buckles!!!! I had signed up for the Legacy Buckle program. That's where previous winners of Tevis buckles can donate them back to the Tevis cup organization. They are cleaned up and given to first time Tevis completers. I WAS ONE OF THOSE!! Man...I sure hoped I got one of Barbara White's buckles! She is so cool to me. Her and her mom, Julie Suhr, are such class acts. Very humble, very "you and me". I had spoken some with Barbara on facebook, watched her posts. I found her to be a such a beautiful person inside and out. I was so honored to be passed by her out on the trail right before Foresthill the day before. It was just something I hoped I of her buckles. 

They called us up, one by one, and handed us a certificate, a yellow carnation, and our BUCKLE!! I gathered up mine and headed back to my chair. Getting hugs from so many people on that walk back to my chair. Amazing, gratifying, beautiful. Once seated, I opened the buckle box, took out this shiny beautiful buckle, and looked at it, front and back...I GOT BARBARA'S BUCKLE!!! 

My day was complete...the rest was all a blur. 

Loretta and Missy headed out shortly after the awards, and the rest of us headed back out Robert and Sharon's where we had dinner and lots of rest before heading back to Oregon. 

The drive home went well. Rock and Ramone traveled well. Soon after returning, I headed off to Prineville, Pioneer Memorial Hospital, and the next chapter in my life. 

I am deeply grateful to Ron Sproat and Carol Giles, who decided to let me ride this wonderful horse and bring him along in his endurance career. I'm also thankful to my best good most beautiful friend, Loretta, who dropped everything, grabbed her sister in law, Missy, and came to crew for us. Very thankful to Max for always supporting my riding ideas, and helping me achieve them. Others who I'm deeply indebted to on this journey to Tevis 2014 are Michelle Roush, Tracy Hofstrand,  Celena Pentrack, Jessica & Justin Wynne, John Rosen, my parents, Darryl, Karla, and PJ, Leanne Studdard (best farrier ever!), and even Terry Ross, who babysat Oso LaMio while Rock and I took off for a week of Tevis fun. I know there are MANY whom I've forgotten, I'm sorry, I had the worst DIMR ever. 

Life is SUPER Good. I have no complaints. 
The Rock Star at the Tevis finish line. Bright, alert, and ready for another loop!
The Rock Star at the Tevis finish line. Bright, alert, and ready for another loop!

Ron and I crossing the finish line. Two very bright horses, two very tired riders!Ron and I crossing the finish line. Two very bright horses, two very tired riders!

Ron and I, and our amazing crew. Except for Michelle and Tracy, who had to head out.Ron and I, and our amazing crew. Except for Michelle and Tracy, who had to head out.

Tevis buckle baby!
Tevis buckle baby!

Me & Loretta, with my beloved Rock Star. Love my best friend ever, and I LOVE that horse!
Me & Loretta, with my beloved Rock Star. Love my best friend ever, and I LOVE that horse!

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