Monday, October 10 2011
This year Tevis was a really different experience for everyone who attended. The week leading up to the ride there had been a storm that had left the sierras covered in snow. It would be extremely dangerous to attempt to cross through the Granite Chief wilderness area. On Thursday I called the Tevis office and was told that it would be fine but that I should wait to drive to Robie Park on Friday to let the snow melt a little. This looked really bad to me as I knew there had to be a lot more snow up in the high country if basecamp was hard to access.
Six weeks before Tevis I was contacted to help a couple of UAE riders through the race. I had been preparing horses like crazy for 100 mile races for both Tevis and the North American Championship that had been two weeks before Tevis and was working really hard. I also went and picked up two of Hillorie's horses to train them as well, Jordan and Sandy, so that we could use Sandy and have Jordan as a back up. I was now really worried that all of the hard work was going to now be faced with danger.
My friend Chris Long was driving in with Andy Bown from Utah. Andy was lending Chris a horse so she could help assist me in getting the riders through. Chris called me to let me know that she had heard there would be an update on the Tevis web page later in the day.
Upon looking it was later learned that we would start from the Auburn Fairgrounds (the finish line) and do the race in reverse all the way to Chicken Hawk, then do a new trail down Gorman Ranch Road to a number check and turn around from there and go back to Auburn, the way we had come. Essentially Tevis would be an out and back. What a relief from the hazards that were out in the high country covered in 3 plus feet of snow!!
Friday we drove up to Auburn, which shortens our drive by over an hour. We found a great parking spot and unloaded the 4 horses. We had with us Marvel for Jeremy, Tiran for Mohamed, Sandy for Sultan and Bey for myself.
After setting up it was only 9 am. We had left home at 5 am to get a good parking spot. We decided to walk to downtown Auburn for breakfast. We hit up Aweful Annies. It was a great breakfast but while we were there, there were an alarming amount of Bloody Marys being bought and consumed from surrounding tables. Not sure what was up with that, I counted at least 12 and we were sitting on the outdoor patio deck!
We looked around a couple of shops then headed back to the ride site. Around noon the whole gang showed up. Almost all of the crew as well as the riders. We visited for a bit and then went to get our rider packets and vetted in. After all of this we went for a pre ride. I wanted to get the two riders on their horses and make sure the tack would work out. The ride went well. On our way back when we were almost back a super, super long train went by and all of the horses had to wait it out. They did ok with it, a little anxious but ok.
The ride meeting was at 4 pm. It was shorter than normal which was great. It left time for dinner before bed without it getting too late. During the ride meeting we found out the vet check arrangements. The first vet would be a trot by at the lower quarry, then a full vet check at Francisco's, and hour hold at Foresthill, another trot by at Chicken Hawk, then loop back to Chicken Hawk for a full vet check, back to Foresthill for another hour hold, full vet checks at Francisco's and the Lower Quarry then the finish.
We all headed into town for dinner, I must say having Tevis this way was SOOO civilized, restaurants, real bathrooms with showers and no red dirt!
Saturday morning we even got to sleep in compared to normal, the ride didn't start until 6:30. Wonderful! The two riders showed up around 5:30 and Hillorie even brought us Starbucks! We saddled up and got on at 6. Jeremy a little sooner, as he would be riding faster and wanted to get down to the start.
My group had a relaxing walk to the start. I was wearing a red glowing armband so that my riders could spot me easily in the little darkness in the morning. It worked well. We all kept together easily. It is about a 15 min ride down to the start so we got there a little over 10 mins before the start.
The ride began and we were off. All of our horses did well. We got to cross No Hands Bridge first thing in the day, that was pretty cool. On the far side there were a lot of people cheering, including our crew. Then across the highway and we were able to move out for a brief time on some of the only level trail of the day. The trot by was simple.
Then the river crossing. At this point Bey decided I had wasted enough of his time telling him what to do and went through the river very quickly hopping through it. The horse is so goofy! He has no fear of water just a need to go! We all made it through although I got my feet really wet while Bey was rushing across.
The first full vet check was very crowded. The manager told us later that 176 horses had been through that spot in an hour and 10 min! If you have ever been to Francisco's you will know that it is not a very big place. We made it through the place with out a glitch. Someone did get kicked while we were there.
The trail from the start to Francisco's is pretty much 30 miles of up hill. We made the horses take it easy, the goal was 4 belt buckles. After Francisco's we got to travel on the trail that is usually sooo scary narrow above the cliffs. This year there had been so much trail work done and it really showed, the trail was amazing! I was super happy about how great it turned out.
Almost halfway between Francisco's and Foresthill there is a spot the management now hauls in water. It is so amazing and helpful that this is out there. We stopped, got a great drink and electrolyted. All 4 horses looked really good. It was very humid all through this area. All of the horses were steaming and soaked.
We reached Foresthill the first time around 11:30 am. All of the horses recovered and vetted perfectly. All of the riders ate and rested while our awesome crew of approximately 13 people, (including 3 vets) took care of the 4 horses. Jeremy had already come and gone and it was reported by our crew that he was looking great.
Sultan and Mohamed got a massage while Chris and I ate and sat down. It was a nice rest.
We hit the road and headed to Chicken Hawk. We were climbing up the canyon just about to the check when Jeremy appeared, coming head on, back towards Foresthill. He was about 14 miles and a vet check ahead of us! Marvel looked great and so did Jeremy, a couple minutes later and Rachel flew by us as well.
The trot by went well and we stopped to feed the horses for a min before heading down the 7 mile hill to the number check. Down the hill we made good time. It was fun because we got to see everyone that was ahead of us. We were in about 70th place. We got to the number check and headed back up at a much slower pace.
Chicken Hawk for the second time, we had a full vet check. Our crew was once again awesome. We fed the horses. Sandy was taking a little while to come down and Chris's mount started to get a big cramp in his shoulder. It was crazy, his shoulder was very hard and when you touched it it was vibrating beneath your hand. We gave him some of our electrolyte mix and Chris walked him. After 30 min all 4 horses vetted through. We decided we should split up. Mohamed and I would go ahead while Chris and Sultan would stay a little longer to feed their horses.
Mohamed and I left and shortly after we dismounted and led down Volcano Canyon to the bottom. We were in Foresthill before long. Our horses were starving and vetted through quickly and ate like champs. I took a shower and borrowed my second pair of shoes for the day, making them the third ones I had worn! They kept getting wet and I really hate wet feet. At this check Hillorie gave me the shoes off her feet, now that is a friend!
In preparing to leave from this check I couldn't decide how warm of clothes I would need. Luckily I went with the heavier jacket choice. I also switched helmets to my headlight helmet.
We left out of the check around 5:30 pm. We were in about 60th place. Mohamed and I were in a great mood as it was becoming more realistic that we would make it to Auburn. We chatted into the darkness. Our headlamps lighting the way. We were making very good time.
At one point we were talking about how fun it would be to pass Mohamed's friend, also named Mohamed, who was riding with Christoph. We decided it would be most fun if we could pass him without him knowing.
We were trotting along where the cliffs are the worst on the California Loop when Mohamed said that something had fallen. I looked back just in time to see Mohammad trying to turn Tiran around and I saw Tiran's back leg slip off the edge. I yelled with adrenaline rushing, "DON'T TURN, DON'T TURN!!!" It caught Mohamed and he stopped turning and Tiran was able to right himself. I quickly said "forget about the thing that dropped we are going to go forward!". After Tiran and Mohamed were safely moving forward I told him to look to his left. He quickly saw why I had screamed to him. The trail was on a cliff that was at least 500 feet up. I was still pumped up for the next 10 mins or so with my heart racing. Mohamed was very glad that I yelled!
A while later I spotted Christoph and the friend in the darkness. We did manage to pass them without being noticed in the darkness. It was really a fun game.
We then were in the Francisco's check and we thought for sure we would be spotted. We managed to not be seen and after staying for 15 mins to feed the horses we vetted through and left. (It was at this point the vet told me Jeremy had won and that his horse looked amazing when he had passed through here. I was super excited for him!)
We reached the river crossing before too long. The volunteers down there were having fun with the music playing and the decorative lights out. The river crossing was marked with floating glow sticks that are anchored. Bey was much better this time, walking through like a gentleman. I was just getting out of the water when I heard a splash. I looked back and Tiran and Mohamed were on their side in the water. Mohamed had the reins in his hands and was directly in front of the horse. From where I was it looked like Mohamed was getting trampled by the front legs. I started yelling to let go of the reins. He did and Tiran got up and came to me. Luckily Mohamed was ok. He was very wet and probably soon very cold but unhurt.
Mohamed took a minute to make sure he was really ok. While he was assessing himself he said," I know why this happened, I played that trick on Mohamed and now God is laughing at me!" (At least he still had his sense of humor, this is when I knew he was ok) We got going again and everything was ok.
We reached the Lower Quarry and there was a nice fire going, it smelled really great, that campfire smell. We let the horses eat some more.
Tiran and Bey vetted through and we were on the home stretch. Mohamed was pretty cold by now, after standing around at the vet check soaking wet (he never complained), oh and did I mention that the full length saddle cover was soaked through as well? Poor guy.
The highway crossing had a lot of spectators cheering. We headed over the hill to No Hands Bridge. Our crew was there cheering and had grain for our horses. They ate a few bites and we pushed on. The bridge is always fun to cross as you know you are almost there.
The last stretch was very peaceful. There was a light breeze and the crickets were chirping under the full moon. The new finish line was ok, it would be much worse than the old one if you actually had to race for it but that was not the case for us.
After walking back up to the fairgrounds we went to the stadium for our official finish and vet check. Both Tiran and Bey had done it! We were 34th and 35th. Just a crazy note: Tiran was 35th in 2010 as well as this year!
Jeremy was there and he had a big smile. Marvel had given him a wonderful ride! It was Marvel's first 100 and he had done it in style. They had finished over 3.5 hours ahead of us in a ride time of 10:31. We bought Marvel from our friend Scott Sansom (who had been riding him and doing endurance with him for the past two years) and we had had him since July.
Now we had to see if Chris and Sultan would make it. I took care of Tiran and Bey with the help of some of our crew, Peter, Kiki and Alena Vale. Jeremy and Tim went to get me an In and Out Burger while I did this. They are awesome.
Jeremy hit the hay after I ate and I took a shower and joined the crew to see Sultan and Chris come in. Around 1:30 or so they came in! They had done it, we had all done it! All five of our group that set out finished the Tevis! All five were also wearing glue on Easyboots. What a great day. Five finishes & a win!
I hit the pillow hard that night/ morning. All through the night our crew had taken shifts to walk the horses. Super cool for us. I slept like a log until the alarm went off. Jeremy and I got up to prepare for Best Condition. Marvel looked great! I would be showing him.
At 10 am we went to the Haggin Cup judging. Marvel was first up. He was spooking at the grandstand and other things but looked great.
After all the horses were shown we hung out and waited for the awards. During this time I got to visit with a highschool friend that lives in Cool, Jenny Harvey and her two adorable little girls, Madrone and Scarlett. Madrone even got her picture on Sandy. That was really fun.
At 1 we went to the awards lunch and presentation. The guys arrived as well. We had fun looking through the race pictures together. There was a great one of Bey rushing through the river.
All of the buckles were handed out. Then the top ten was announced with the horses present, then the first place buckle was given and Jeremy made a speech.
After the speech we went back to where all the top ten horses were waiting while the Best Condition was being announced. Marvel had won!!! We all rushed back up with Marvel. Skip, Scott, Jeremy and I were all there very excited with Marvel in the middle. Jeremy made another speech. Super, super cool.
The cool part is that in the 56 years of Tevis the double cup win of first place and Best Condition has only been awarded 7 times and Jeremy and I have 3 of those 7. We have in all, 4 Tevis Cups and 3 Haggin Cups.
The whole group was on cloud nine. Our friends from the UAE had had fun, Jeremy had won and gotten BC, Chris had her buckle and all had finished! Super great weekend for Crew, Horses and Riders!!!