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Zumbro Bottom Boogie

Saturday Jun 26, 2010

Last First Horse Place Miles Pts
Casserly Tim Auran Bachlava (Arab) 1 20 8.8
Casserly Tim Auran Harley Dvdsn (Arab) 1 20 8.8
Shea Jack Kim (Canadian) 1 10 4.4

Sunday Jun 27, 2010

Last First Horse Place Miles Pts
Casserly Tim Auran Bachlava (Arab) 1 10 4.4
Casserly Tim Auran Harley Dvdsn (Arab) 1 10 4.4
Shea Jack Kim (Canadian) 1 10 4.4
Nelson Rick Buddy (Standardbred) 2 10 4

Where in the world is Zumbro Bottoms?
by Jack Shea

That was the question I was trying to answer as I planned my trip to drive in the Zumbro Bottoms Boogie.  After fooling around on the net for a hour and coming up empty I decided that the only option was to follow the directions on the back of the ride flyer.

I followed the directions exactly as they were listed and pulled into camp at 3:00PM Friday afternoon.  This is one outstanding horsecamp!  There are over 150 sites to pick from.  The camp is basically a very large flat field.  I set up my pen and unloaded Kim.  He was quite happy with his arrangements because the clover was about 8 inches tall in the area I set the pen up in.  There was a lot of forage all over camp!

Barry Saylor the ride manager asked if I would give him a driver’s perspective for a portion of the trail.  I jumped on the 4 wheeler with him and away we went.   Well this part of the trail is called Richie’s mountain for a reason!  Wow, not only pretty steep but it was a long way down.  We walked about half way down to get a better look.  I concluded that as long as the drivers knew it was there and took it easy they would be able to safely get down.  As we rode back Barry pointed out a few other areas that he was concerned about which proved to be no problem.  The Zumbro Bottoms Management Unit is a part of the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest.  This is a beautiful area!  The trails are mostly hard packed sand and gravel and are a joy to drive on.  It was worth the 4 hour drive from Sullivan, WI.

Not to long after we returned to camp it started to rain and rain and rain.  I was waiting for some announcement for a rider’s meeting but the noise of the rain on the roof of my trailer was deafening. So I missed the riders meeting!  After about 2 inches of rain it stopped like about midnight.

Dawn comes early in June and the 15 minute warning started before 5:00AM!  So it was time to get up and see who may have arrived overnight.  Rick Nelson and Tim and Ruth Casserly had arrived sometime during the evening.  I learned that they were doing the 20 mile drive and I was the only driver doing the 10 mile drive.  We agreed on our order of go and started out at 10:00AM.  The 10 mile trail left from the Southeast corner of the camp on the Rail Road Bed Trail.  The trail was pretty flat and bordered the Zumbro River at several points.  It was pretty cool!  After about 2 miles it was time to cross the brigde over the river.  This is a pretty big bridge and it is also pretty high off the water which made it extra scary for Kim.  I let him check it out for a few minutes and then urged him to cross which he did a little hesitantly.  Then it was time for a water stop.  There were at least 8 tubs of water filled near the top.  Kim took a quick drink and it was on to the Coulee Trail after we crossed a mud flat.  This trail is mainly in the up direction for the next 3 miles.  We took our time as it was getting warm and quite humid.  We made it to the turn around point and took on more water.  We were allowed 2 hours for the 10 miles but I was already about 5 minutes behind at the half.  The next 3 miles were pretty much down hill and then 2 miles of flat.  We walked in the last mile and finished 13 minutes past our window.  We got through the vet check although the P & Rs were high at 16 & 16!  But as you know to finish is to win!

I got Kim cooled down and feed both of us.  I learned that Rick Nelson was unable to continue after his first 10 miles due to high P & Rs but his new driving horse Buddy had recovered.  Later in the afternoon Rick wanted to get Buddy out and give some cart rides.  I gave him a hand hooking up and he and Buddy gave several folks rides.  I was curious about Tim & Ruth Casserly, it was 4:00PM and they were late.  I got the word that the gates on the bridge had been closed and locked prematurely and they were on the other side of the river!  Tim and Ruth were good sports about the whole thing as they waited for over a hour for a volunteer to come and let them across.

The awards and dinner were great with plenty of good food and interesting stories!  Ruth’s story about the locked bridge gate was one of the best.  As the evening progressed the weather looked threatening.  I hand grazed Kim and walked him around for about 30 minutes and prepared for bed.  The rain started again about 9:00PM and lasted for about 4 hours; it did not keep me awake!

So that’s how day one of the new Zumbro Bottoms Boogie ride and drive went.  Overall it was a terrific day on some great trails.  Ride managers  Barry Saylor and Beth Lecy and their entire crew did a fantastic job. I will sure make this one next year.

I forgot to tell you where Zumbro Bottoms is,  about 90 miles North and a little West of Lacrosse, Wisconsin.  It’s a four hour drive for me from Sullivan, Wisconsin but it was well worth it.

To finish is to win!