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Future Events

Endless Valley

Saturday Singles – 20 mile

Place Driver Horse Points
1 Mary Clapper Benjamin (Rocky Mountain)
2 Jac Deweese Scooter (Morgan)

Sunday Singles – CANCELED

Place Driver Horse Points

Endless Valley 2007

By Jac Deweese

I was looking forward to Endless Valley this year because Linda Jacobson had informed me that the trails had to be changed from the previous years. The big meadow areas were no longer available because the land owners had opted to prohibit horse traffic. This created a lot of work for the managers and owner of the stable to create new trails. It was especially difficult to incorporate trails for driving due to hills and washouts that could be handled by riders but would prove impassable for carts.

My participation would be limited to Saturday this year due to commitments for Sunday. As I contacted drivers I soon realized that participation would be low. Several drivers had other commitments, partly due to the change of date for this ride.

I was happy to learn that Mary Clapper and Ben would be there and looked forward to camping near them. Mary insists that she enjoys cooking and I was more than ready to take advantage of her willingness to cook supper Friday night. I brought along a couple of pounds of hamburger to share with whoever might show up.

After arriving and setting up camp we registered and enjoyed a great meal with Mary and Bonnie English. The next morning we vetted in and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of pancakes while we watched the riders head out. Our start time was set for 9 and since the riders from the previous day had used 5 hours for 25 miles the time for our 20 mile drive was set at 4 and ½ hours. Seemed way to much time to me, but management insisted.

Both of our horses were ready to go and at 9 we headed down the trail. We were told that our trail used blue signs and ribbons. The trail seemed to be marked well and I noticed that the 100 mile riders were sharing the blue trail. On the 1st 10 miles we saw some riders but didn’t have to pass or be passed by any.

As we climbed out of camp my thought was that the trail at least started easier than in the past. The hill was long but not very steep and Scooter handled it easily. We did have to watch for tree roots exposed on the trail and occasional drop offs on the side. As a driver you had to be aware of the trail, but it was not difficult. After about a mile we came to a house with several dogs who were excited by the sight of a horse and cart. Lots of barking but fortunately all of the dogs were on leashes and couldn’t cause any real problem.

We then started down a gravel road. The gravel was relatively smooth, but I choose to walk rather than risking a stone bruise. We passed evidence of tree harvesting activity and noted the beautiful flowers growing along side the road and in the meadow to one side. As we are going down the road I look back and see that Mary and Ben are in sight. Since Ben is shod, Mary has taken the opportunity to trot and thus catch up with us. I come to a gate across the road and wonder if I have to open it as I did last week. Then I see the plate telling us to turn around. I notice a second plate but ignore it as I am concerned with the space available. No problem, but I’ve missed reading the password!

Back down the road and then a sharp right into the wooded area. Scooter has been walking for some time and is anxious to trot. I let him go and almost lose my seat when we cross a hidden ditch! Going a little slower we proceed and soon are back to the ‘Hound(s) of the Baskervilles’ and the lightly graveled trail.

We soon turn off this trail, wind through a short trail of trees and come out in a meadow. Here I see riders for the first time going off to my right and well ahead of me. As I approach the top of the hill I realize that I will follow the same trail as the riders. This is wide open trail and I allow Scooter to open up. It’s not very long till we are into the woods again. The trail becomes quite narrow and it is on a side hill. I’m glad it is dry and not slick because it would be quite easy for the cart to slide into the trees on the lower side of the trail. As we come to an open area in the woods I see a turn around sign and I swing Scooter out and around a tree to head back down the trail. I’m cautious on the return trip because I know Mary is not too far behind me and there is a chance that we will have to meet on this trail. Since it is very windy and narrow that could be a problem. Fortunately I reach the end without meeting anyone.

Turning back onto the main trail we are soon at the stables. We wind around the barn and are directed back to a trail that is on the north side of the camp. We are soon out of sight and climbing. I’ve passed a two mile marker but it is on a red plate and I’m not sure if it is for the drivers.

We are soon back on the trail that lead from camp and I’m walking as slow as Scooter will go. Here we do meet some riders but pass without incident. We are cautious because the trail is narrow and see some riders coming up to a junction on the trail. I call out to alert them to a cart coming their way. They elect to hold at the junction. When I get to the junction I see a blue arrow pointing to the right and the trail straight ahead doesn’t have any arrows. I tell the riders that I’ll be turning toward them and they elect to move to the trail in front of me. (At the end of the 20 miles I discover that the blue arrow was for the 100 mile riders and that I should have gone straight ahead.) Making a very sharp right hand turn we proceed back to camp.

As I suspected we are very early through the 10 miles. Scooter passes the vet check and we take a leisurely break. Mary is much later coming in and we’ve actually started to worry, but we also realize that she is well within her time and probably getting Ben as relaxed as possible before the vet check. Mary and Ben arrive OK and also pass the check.

My time comes to leave, but I opt to stay in camp for a while. Scooter is enjoying his break and I know I would have a hard time holding him to a walk for the entire 10 miles. It starts to mist and I put on my poncho. I try to be careful introducing Scooter to the poncho but it frightens him and we have some excitement as I mount the cart. Once in the cart Scooter is fine and we proceed down the trail. We’ll walk more than before but not the entire distance. The rain becomes more intense and does get on my glasses making my vision somewhat blurred, but it is not too bad. Mary is slightly ahead of me and we soon catch up. At this point I realize that my camera has bounced out and is lost somewhere on the trail. (It is picked up by a rider and Mary has it. I should get it back next weekend. Hope the few pictures I was able to take are recoverable!) My plan is to stay behind her and Ben, especially through that narrow, side hill trail. We are successful and it is a good thing that we were. We do have some slippage and passing could have been dangerous. Just avoiding the trees on the slippery surface was a challenge!

As we pass the barn on the return trip, Mary elects to have me go ahead. This doesn’t last very long when Ben becomes disgruntled at being behind and she passes me again. As we proceed toward camp I drop behind even further and am soon out of sight. When I return to camp ahead of Mary and haven’t passed her I am puzzled. Mary arrives within a few minutes and I ask her where she got lost. It was then I learned that I had missed the very end of the trail. Ride management felt responsible because the trail was not clearly marked at that point and did not disqualify me

I had to pack up and leave immediately in order to meet my Sunday commitment. I learned later that the skies opened up and the area flooded over night. The trails were closed on Sunday and the road to the camp washed out delaying departure until it could be repaired. A very memorable end to the Endless Valley event!

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