Sunday February 6 2011
In some circles (like endurance snowbirds that come south to ride and escape the cold in the winter), 18* F might sound cold. But if you survived Day 1 riding in the (freakish weather) -6* wind chill, you'd consider the overnight temperature downright balmy for Day 3. Trail boss Scott Sansom didn't even have to ride out on his ATV today and break ice in the water troughs on the trail.
After getting razzed for riding LDs the first two days ("I am starting two young horses!"), Tennessee Mahoney tied for first in the 50 on her older horse Just Magnum. She'd toughed it out the first two cold days because "we risked our lives getting here, I'm riding all 6 days!" She and Shawn got stuck in New Mexico after escaping Colorado. Dian Woodward and Christoph Schork also tied for first with Tennessee. They'd also had a hellacious 2-day trip down from Utah, having to stay at a fairgrounds not far from their Moab home with the temperature dipping overnight to zero. They'd skipped riding on Day 1 to let their horses recover from the ride.
Veterinarian Carter Hounsel also got razzed - and inducted into the official southwest endurance vet club when he got a speeding ticket (and he will slay me for posting this).
Caroline Diehl brought a whole group of girls from the Verde Valley School in Sedona, Arizona to ride the LD. It's an international college prep boarding school that has an equestrian program with some obsessed horse girls. "The girls ride 1 1/2 hours, 5 days a week," said Caroline, "then all day long on one of the weekend days. The horses and the girls are fit!" They appeared to have a ball (it was the first endurance ride for a couple of the girls; the rest have done LDs and 50's) and the horses looked like they hadn't done anything at all at the finish.
Ron and Dominique Bowers came down to squeeze in all the endurance riding they can do the three months of winter that they aren't guiding horseback tours with their Desert Mountain Trails camping trail rides in Arizona (on the Apache Trail, Arizona Trail and Grand Canyon), and Utah (Monument Valley).
Only 3 riders finished all three days on one horse: Robert Bischoff rode all 3 days of the LD; Stephanie Palmer DuRoss and Effee Conner rode all 3 days and 155 miles.
Sunday is a day off; Monday starts the next 3-day Springdale Romp. The weather should be great: barely freezing in the morning and highs in the 60's. Now that's the Arizona winter weather that the snowbirds and locals have been looking for.
Many more photos at: