Singles – 20 mile
|1||Derrick Dupler||Rhia (Morgan)||333|
|2||Gary Jackson||Horus (Morgan)||328|
|3||Jac Deweese||Scooter (Morgan)||314|
Singles – 10 mile
|1||Wes Licht||Annie (Morab)||383|
|2||Katz Jackson||Talon (Morgan)||366|
|3||Cathy Thomas||Trade Fair (Arab Cross)||362|
|4||Raven Fisher||Domminic (American Warmblood)||348|
Memories of Endless Valley – 2006
By Wes Licht
With plans to arrive at Endless Valley and set up camp before dark, I left home with anticipation of a beautiful evening. However, the clouds in the sky suddenly turned dark and nasty, blocking the sun and making the daylight disappear rapidly. I turned on the truck radio and received regular severe storm warnings and tornado watch announcements. Most of them seemed to indicate the worst of it going farther north but I encountered small bursts of pounding rain and slowed to be on the safe side. As the drops finally subsided, an eerie red coloring appeared low in the sky indicating to me the passing of this summer storm. Yet the ominous clouds above in the western sky had many multiple bolts of lightning – charges that remained up high and did not strike the earth. By the time I crossed the Wisconsin River, the entire western sky was a fiery red and the silhouettes from the trees were incredibly beautiful.
The blacktop was dry as I turned into Endless Valley a few minutes later. Trailers and horses were everywhere but there was little sign of human activity. Most, it seemed, had checked in for the night wanting to avoid the potential storm and stay dry. When I stopped to look for a parking space, friend and fellow driver Derrick Dupler appeared and told me I was in luck. Someone had just left a site nearby and he guided me as I backed the trailer into it. Another friendly neighboring camper came by with a light to help me untangle my electrical fence which I would use to corral Annie for the night. Very shortly it was up and Annie was happy to be on soft ground, first to relieve herself, have a drink of water and then slurp up some presoaked beet pulp with electrolytes, pro-bi and apple slices.
Then it was my turn. I used the nearby portable facilities and decided to relax in my camp chair with some snacks and a good cold drink. The night was fairly quiet, and we munched together – Annie with new hay and me with some chips. I felt very fortunate to have the storm pass us by and to be spending some restful moments under a starry sky with the pulsating glow of countless fireflies lighting up the meadow. All too soon I realized that my head was nodding and I filled up Annie’s water bucket one last time and crawled into my sleeping bag underneath the topper of my truck.
The morning sounds of various horse activities stirred me early and I completed my feeding and cleaning chores while finishing off a doughnut, a banana and a bottle of water. Annie was happy to get out of her pen and after a quick brushing, I grabbed her Coggins papers and headed for registration and the vet check area. Jac and Raven had arrived by the time Annie had her number written on her side. I allowed her to graze on the lush grass along the field path while enjoying the passing company of other riding competitors and their horses.
The drivers’ meeting was short. Ride manager Peggy Brush indicated we were following the red ribbon trail except where a sign directed to follow blue for a short stretch and it was clearly marked. Due to the rising temperatures predicted and the extreme hilly terrain, ample time of 2 hours was given for the 10 mile loop. All water containers along the trail were designated as “natural” so drinking and sloshing would be allowed. The starting order was established and off we went to make final preparations, harness and hitch. Very shortly after our meeting three more drivers arrived. Cathy Thomas, Gary Jackson and Katz Jackson successfully vetted in and were assigned departure times following me.
During my harnessing process a loose horse came galloping back into camp quite near my trailer and I assisted by catching him for the husband who was obviously concerned about his wife, a competitive rider. This put me a bit behind and Jac and Derrick were off in 5 minute intervals before I was ready to go. I met Raven as she was heading out and then Annie and I were warmly sent off by the timer and several other volunteers under the vet tent.
Annie was ready to trot and after passing through the flat valley pasture, we began a long climb. About ¾ of the hill behind her, she slowed to a walk and upon catching her breath, she willingly resumed a slow trot up and over, following the wide mowed path.
Just ahead was the previous loose horse, this time under control of the woman who had lost the reins earlier, while being dismounted along the trail. With lots of talking we passed by slow and wide as she was in no hurry to complete the ride she had started before.
Nearly 45 minutes of alternating trotting and walking over scenic hilly terrain brought us to the water station. Even though there was some mud surrounding the large tank of fresh water, I positioned Annie squarely for her approach to the tank. Without hesitation she walked up and put her nose out to drink. Wow! On previous drives this had never happened and I was happy for her progress especially on this warm morning. On we trotted, crossing the local blacktop roads on a couple occasions and up and down around a couple of large ravines.
One loop of approximately a mile took us through alternating woods and meadows of white and yellow daisies, clumps of yellow St.John’s wort and small patches of the lavender mint bergamot just beginning to bloom. The woods trails had patches of black raspberries and while I wanted to test their sweetness, the slopes of the trail kept me going. At the bottom of the valley we walked along a lovely shallow reflecting pond with native cedars and uncommon tamarack trees accentuating the beauty of the area. Another long climb and near the end of the wooded hill, a flat area to rest …with raspberries. Annie was certainly willing to stand and I could conveniently reach over and enjoyed my share of these tasty morsels. Oh, the small delights of distance driving!
Moving on at a good ground-covering trot, we approached the watering hole again. Derrick and Raven were momentarily resting their horses nearby and assured me everything was ok and we didn’t have far to go. Annie didn’t hesitate to drink and we pressed on with the big question on my mind. How much farther is the 2- mile marker? I remembered where it was last year but I knew the trail had been changed to avoid some extremely steep hills. I rechecked the map and my watch but it gave me little satisfaction.
After most of a half hour of driving Derrick (competing in the 20 miler) caught up with me and I paused with Annie so he could pass. He had started 10 minutes before me so by keeping up with him I could be way too early for my 10-mile arrival time. I allowed him to go on but shortly I caught up with Derrick as he was doing lots of walking. Still no 2-mile marker and with limited patience on my part I asked to pass him and he obliged by moving over in a wide grassy area. In a few moments the trail through the woods angled sharply downhill and the sounds of the campground became apparent. I slowed down and walked the last stretch back to the finish arriving just one minute early.
I found an out-of-way area to unhitch and stash my harness and cart. This time Annie would not drink from her bucket or the tank so I moved her close to the vets to quietly stand for her P&R check. It was a busy area with other drivers coming in and riders still going out again but Annie cooperated, showing progress again.
With the final vet check completed, I treated Annie to some grazing on the way back to the trailer and she ate eagerly indicating she was feeling just fine. Due to other commitments in the afternoon, I packed up all my gear after giving Annie her last dose of electrolytes with her beet pulp.
By the time I thanked Peggy and the other volunteers at the vet tent, the scoring was completed for the four competitors doing the 10-mile drive. She announced the placings and we received our ribbons and Endless Valley designer T-shirts for our completion. Three drivers, after completing their mandatory hold, were back out on the loop to finish their 20 miles. (The 2-mile marker was never placed on the trail due to an emergency.)