Monday, May 31, 2010

2010 Owyhee Fandango - Day 3

Sunday May 30 2010

Almost perfect weather for Day 3 of the Owyhee Fandango. Jose took the day off while I helped with the ride.

The out vet check for all the distances was at the Sierra del Rio ranch close to the Snake River. The Oregon Trail came right through here, as this was one of the few spots where there was easy access to the river. Today's riders rode over part of the Oregon Trail to get here, and they took the Oregon Trail back out.

The further out vet check for the 80 and 100 milers was at Celebration Park, Idaho's first (and only) archaeological park. The park is littered with boulders that have petroglyph carvings, estimated to be 5000-11,000 years old.

The park is right on the Snake River.

Riders crossed the old Guffy Bridge. It was originally built in 1897 to carry ore from the mining town of Silver City in the Owyhee mountains, to Nampa to be smelted. Now it's been preserved and renovated to allow foot and hoof traffic.

Dave Rabe (nearly 48,000 endurance miles (!!!), and made the AERC Hall of Fame last year) trotting out White Cloud at the vet check. Dave wears shorts while riding, no matter the weather (including when it's snowing, and the rest of us wimps have 5 layers on!)

Karen and Thunder, Lynn and Agnes heading back out after 40 miles.

Dr Peterson checking a horse.

A junior, Granger, and his pony after completing the 30 mile ride.

Many more photos from the 3-day ride here on

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Owyhee Fandango - Day 2

Saturday May 29 2010

Day 2 of the Owhyee Fandango: another 50 miles for Jose and me and the Raven!

Another 50 miles of cool trails, some which I'd never been on - Jose had fun with his riding buddies Jack and Quinn and he had a blast zooming up a twisting and turning wash with 10' high walls.

Busy day tomorrow with a 30, 60, 80, and 100 mile ride for day 3 of the ride. (I'm helping, not riding.)

Here are a few pictures... more are on the

Owyhee Fandango page on

I got a couple of videos of Jose trotting up the wash, they are a hoot! I'll post those as soon as the ride chaos is over.

Friday, May 28, 2010

2010 Owyhee Fandango - Day 1

Friday May 28 2010

It was a terrific 50 mile ride on Jose. Beautiful trails through the desert and a loop in the Owyhee mountain foothills. Weather was perfect - cool, cloudy, but not a drop of rain and no thunderstorms.

And today The Raven hit 4000 miles!

Many more photos from the day here on

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fandango Vet In Day

Thursday May 27 2010

Dodging rain showers, Jose and I went out in the morning to mark the last bit of trail for the 3-day Owyhee Fandango that starts tomorrow.

Jose and I get to ride 50 miles on Day 1 and Day 2!

I'm not worried about the 60% chance of showers tomorrow, but hopefully the thunderstorms will be in the next county; and hopefully the cows haven't eaten all of the ribbons on the trail (Steph has to go out early in the morning and re-mark part of the trail where the cows DID eat the ribbons).

More photos from the day here on

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Wednesday May 26 2010

A friend once asked me dubiously, when I rhapsodized about Owyhee, "Isn't it desolate?"

Desolate, yes. Big, open, spacious - empty and full. Beautiful.

You could ride for days, weeks, (if you knew where all the gates were) and not see a soul.

You'll see deer, snakes, Ravens, eagles, and maybe pronghorns like I did today. You might see, if you're lucky, bighorn sheep or badgers, or, if you're very lucky, cougars.

You might stumble across an old mine, a nugget of gold (there's still gold in the Owyhees), an arrowhead. You might discover an old rock corral or homestead or dam, a cave with thousands-year-old relics, an old irrigation channel from the gold rush days, an old wagon frame or wheel. You might ride over old wagon wheel grooves on the Oregon trail or you might discover a pioneer's grave. You might drink from a cool spring in a hidden canyon.

The Owyhee mountains are quite small - in height and length and breadth - in the scheme of western mountain ranges - but they preside splendidly over the Owyhee desert. They fill the sky and dance with the storm clouds.

Sometimes it's just you out there and nothing else - and everything else.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Caves

Tuesday May 25 2010

I just couldn't help myself - when I hiked back over the Rock Corral trail we'd already marked on horseback last week (I checked to make sure the cows didn't eat all the green ribbons, and I added pink ribbons to the hard-to-see green ones) - I had to climb up to and check out a few of the caves I'd seen.

What is it about holes in the earth that attract us? Caves, mine shafts, tunnels - why the magnetism that makes us want to go up to them and in them, even though they might be kind of... scary or creepy?

For the treasures that could be inside? For the thought of who might have used it before, and how long ago? For the mystery and awesomeness of the motivation that made somebody tunnel into the earth, often - here in the West - by hand? For trying to understand how Mother Nature created the cave?

For me, part of the draw is... cougars. If I were a cougar, I'd be hanging out during the day in a cool cave with a view of the land below me. Of course, I don't particularly want to wake a cougar up from a nap in a cave, nor have I given any thought as to what I'd do if I did find a cougar in a cave... but I haven't found one yet anyway. I just want to see the cave and what's in it. They do scare me a bit - what if one caves in while I'm inside? I won't go too far in a tunnel, and no WAY would I crawl on my belly to get any further into a cave.

This is the first cave I detoured up to. It was nice and roomy, almost big enough to stand straight up in, and went about 10 feet back. I found no signs of cougars, but I did find some cool nests (rats?), and lots of obsidian flakes, though none of them seemed to be worked pieces. Obsidian occurs naturally in this area, though you can also find arrowheads (presumably made about a hundred years ago by Native Americans) if you're lucky.

A canyon wren flew in to check me out as I snooped around.

Another cave - smaller, but with a nice view.

It was a very protected spot - it had a nice little 'porch' that I had to climb a bit to get to. More obsidian flakes, and a nest inside.

And yet another cave.

Same size as the second one, no obsidian, no nest, no cougars, and another nice view.

Besides caves there were flowers, flowers, and more flowers.

Even wild onion, that tastes like onion. But don't try the death camas even if it looks a bit like the wild onion. I almost made that mistake one time.

Steph was marking trail in the area, and said the wildflowers nearer to the Owyhee mountains are outta control. The lupines are taking over the earth. She also saw the two wildish horses that I'd seen while hiking in March in this area. I didn't see them, but Steph said they were so close to where I was flagging, they were probably watching me.

You'll see the rock corral, the explosion of wildflowers, possibly two half wild horses... and those caves if you do Day 1 (Friday) of the Owyhee Fandango. I just explored the caves that will be on your left past the rock corral. If you decide to tie your horse to a sagebrush and run up and check out the caves on the right, let me know what you find.

More pictures from the day here.