Friday February 16 2007
Gretchen and I set off for the 3-day Eastern Mojave Scenic ride, in the National Mojave Preserve outside of Baker, CA, whose claim to fame appears to be having the world’s largest thermometer. Gretchen and I were a bit worried as the temperature started climbing… 68*, 71*… not bad. Then it got to 75*… 78*…
“If it hits 80* let’s turn around and go home.”
The traffic was awful – thousands of people heading for Vegas for the holiday weekend. It appeared that thousands of Vegans were also fleeing Las Vegas for the better (?) environs of Los Angeles.
We pulled into ride camp where, by 2 PM, it was looking a little like the crowd at Burning Man: BIG. Lots of trailers, and more coming in. We unloaded the horses and saddled them up for a ride.
Boy were they raring to go! They hadn’t been out since Sunday, and it was like riding a couple of banshees out in the desert. Either Spice was out front tripping and bucking and Raffiq was behind bolting because something was goosing him in the butt, or he was out front climbing and trying to run off because he didn’t want Spice in front of him and anyway she was getting goosed in the butt and bucking behind. We’re using BRIDLES tomorrow instead of sidepulls.
The golden setting sun lit the mountains behind us gold and magenta.
At the ride meeting there was quite a crowd… ride manager The Duck said we had permits for 100, or “maybe a few more,” the BLM guy allowed. It was 100 and Maybe a Few More come out for this 3 day ride in the beautiful high desert of Joshua trees.
The Duck is very vociferous in insisting his rides are for pleasure, not for racing. No special awards for finishing first, or top ten. Not a problem for Gretchen and me, because our horses just poke along. We always get to absorb lots of scenery.
It seems to take forever to get ready for next day’s ride. Lunch is an out vet-check, so we have to pack crew bags, food for the horses and for us. Already we’re hauling horse water to our trailer, already we’ve filled hay bags and water buckets several times. Don’t forget to pack the Raven in his saddle bag. Get the camper set up for beds, eat a second time (ate once before the ride meeting), eat some desert.
Then off to bed, with the busy hum of constant traffic on I-15 two stone’s throws away, sleep a few hours before starting down the trail with the sunrise at 7 AM, all 100 and a Few More of us endurance riders.