Sunday, January 3, 2016

Death Valley Encounter - Day 1

December 28 2015

It's been some 9 years since I rode the Death Valley Encounter endurance ride. It was good to be back on some of these old rugged, challenging trails.

Though the ride no longer actually goes inside the park, the scenery is still exceptional, particularly of the Panamint Range. The old history of the area is fascinating, and the Slate Range and the Panamints (indeed the whole area around here) are dotted with abandoned gold and silver mines.

I was terrifically grateful to be riding in the winter and not the summer! We actually had cold enough morning temperatures (21* to 31*) to wake up to a couple of inches of ice on the water buckets. Days were sunny and cold, horses were fresh and strong. We rode the 50 milers on Days 1 and 3.

I rode my pal Jose, with Steph on Smokey, Gretchen on Coquette, and Peggy on Zane.

Here's a taste of some photos from Day 1:

Starting out with long shadows on a 21* morning

Climbing the Slate Range, with the Panamint Valley below and Panamint Mountains beyond

In the Panamint Valley, looking toward the Panamint Mountains

Riding along the ancient Lake Panamint, now a dry lake bed, with the fascinating Panamint Mountains beyond. 

Climbing back up the Slate Range out of Panamint Valley

Steve Bradley took this fabulous photo of us cresting the Slate Range in the morning.

Day 2 coming soon, and more photos and story at:


  1. So I just learned about this ride from Denny Emerson's FB - what does preparing for something like this look like? I did a few LD's in Michigan but I feel like conditioning for mountains is a totally different ballgame.

    1. Well, I almost always say, 'it depends.' which is unhelpful. but in general, it depends on how fit your horse is. you probably have humidity, which some people feel is an added training advantage. And you could probably do a slow 50 in the mountains, though in the winter you might finish in the dark. If i can give you more info, email me theequestrianvagabond at gmail dot com .