Friday, 4 August 2017

Tip of my hat to Top Of The World

The logistics of getting all of the 'Creek People' to a multiday ride can be challenging, but we managed to get it done, and it was a splendid ride! This is a new 3-day ride in a spectacular part of Idaho. Jessica (determined and inspired) and Mike (reluctant but willing) Cobbley did an amazing job of finding the most beautiful basecamp, and some very fine trails in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. We had views of the Grand Tetons to the East, and numerous lesser mountain ranges to the north, south and west. It's high country, basecamp was at 6500 feet, and the stands of pine and fir intermingle with aspen groves, sagebrush hills and mountain meadows to create a very beautiful mosaic of greens. Absolutely gorgeous country.

We had a 7 hour drive from Owyhee, east and north, and passed through dramatic showers and storms as we neared our destination. As we turned off the highway and drove ten miles down a dirt road the storms blew away and a double rainbow escorted us to camp. A good omen! Half of the Creek (Connie and Sarah Holloway and I) arrived a day early as we wanted to settle in and let the horses rest, hoping to ride all 3 days. We had a welcome chilly night (a break from the desert heat), a misty meadow morning from the previous rains, and a short ride to stretch the horses' legs. A lovely peaceful day.

The rest of the Creek (Carol, Merri, Regina) arrived that evening in Regina's trailer and we sorted out horses and pens and stuff. I will admit that I got cranky trying to keep up with sorting out feed, blankets, tack, pens, buddies, riding plans, and my increasingly agitated mare. The sight and sound of feed and buckets drives her crazy, this mare thinks food is the most important part of life, and she was getting hysterical with the other horses coming and going in different directions. I finally got my senses together and we had a 'session' - I'm the boss, remember? It always amazes me how well it works to assert myself, and after that she was fine. And I was better too after a little whining session.

The first day's ride dawned misty and cool and beautiful. I set out with Connie and Sarah, glad to have company on this new 'wilderness' trail, one never knows how it is going to be out there! Our first 25 mile loop was a bit daunting, spectacular views, but the rocky trail was slow and we were a little cranky by the time we got back to camp. (They're not going to use this particular trail next year). Second 25 mile loop was along forest single track trails, and some aspen groves, and a fun technical trail along a creek and meadow. Big beautiful views and looming thunderstorm clouds solicited an afternoon of oohs and aahs.

My mare Smokey, and Connie and Sarah's horses DWA Saruq, and 'Desi', finished the first day in great shape so we were on for day 2. Beautiful trail!! The most scenic trail I've ridden in a long time, great footing, spectacular views, forest and meadow... glorious. We rode for several miles along the continental divide between Idaho and Montana - and even did a little loop into the neighboring state. It was a very enjoyable morning, we still rode slowly but this time it was because we couldn't quit gawking and taking photos. The second loop was the same 'easy' loop that we did on day 1, still pleasant, still scenic, still fascinating watching the storm clouds build up.

So far, so good, so we set off again on Day 3. I rode with Carol and her horse August all day, it was fun, like old times. (we have ridden many thousands of miles together over the last 25+ years). Another beautiful trail, most forest roads and single track, pleasant and not too demanding. Second loop was the same as previous days, but it didn't feel tedious. The horses knew the trail, we knew the trail, and we just zoomed along. Smokey felt awesome, strong and forward and happy, and she actually won the 'Get-Away Horse' award - the veterinarian's choice of the 3-day horse in best form to make a fast escape if needed! Another wonderful day riding. Great weekend - cool mountain nights, yummy dinners from Spencer's smoker. Good friends, awesome ride!

Steph (and Smokey!)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

City of Rocks

City of Rocks, Almo Idaho

It's time to start thinking about our next event. We discovered this treasure in 2010. My son Clay had told me about an amazing place after his in-laws had their family reunion in the little town of Almo. Wynne's family came from the area, and it was a chance for them to revisit the old home place. Clay said "you gotta see this place!" .

So, I found myself veering off the Interstate when I saw the sign for 'City of Rocks' on our way home from Wyoming. Merri and I had been crewing for our friends Rusty, Kevin, and Kevin at the Big Horn 100. Heads full of adventure and beautiful scenery from several days in the Wyoming Bighorn Mountains, warm sunny July day ... just seemed like the right thing to do.

The road to Almo and City of Rocks passes through high desert scenery - farmland in the valleys, surrounded by mountains. We wind our way through the valleys and over a few passes and BOOM all of a sudden there is this immense world of granite.

and it just kept going, past Castle Rocks State Park and then into the City of Rocks National Reserve. An expansive stunning landscape of sagebrush, aspen, firs, pinon pines, cactus, sub-alpine firs, snowy peaks... dotted with cattle and old homesteads. This area was a major crossroads for emigrants as they traveled west toward California, Oregon and Nevada, or north to Idaho. Pioneer journal entries describe the site as "a city of tall spires,” “steeple rocks," and "the silent city."

There are natural granite caves with names and dates of the pioneers inscribed in axle grease, or etched into the rock . There is a very strong sense of awe, and perhaps humility, when confronted by such magnificent scenery, and how it must have affected these travelers.

It didn't take long for the idea (compulsion) of an endurance ride took hold. Perhaps a few seconds. I talked with the park managers - they were very excited about the idea having invested heavily in making the park horse friendly with trail heads and well designed equestrian trail. Oh my, getting better. I spoke with the Forest Ranger (Sawtooth National Forest) and he was very supportive. We met a rancher happy to lease us a campsite. And after one evening in the hotsprings there was no going back...the rest is history. The first ride was a mid summer 5-day 250 mile event with trails going off in every direction. Ambitious? of course! and the 'Crick Gang' spent many glorious days scouting new trail, riding the country, basking in the high altitude sunshine.

I've changed a few things since our first 2011 event - only three days now, and in early June instead of mid summer. With the high altitude and mountain ranges summer thunderstorms can get pretty Exciting, and the heat is intense. So we're doing cooler weather, and simpler rides - and sticking with the most scenic trails and easiest logistics. (smarter with age?)

So, now we're less than six weeks away from the next event. Time to focus. The website with trail maps and link to pre-registration is at .
There are lots of photos too, as well as Merri's awesome Circle Creek video.

Now... just waiting for springtime to actually arrive! Might be a little snow up at Indian Grove in the high country...


Saturday, 15 April 2017

April. It's not funny any more.

April is trying, but I'm afraid it's having a hard time. We had a GREAT Owyhee April Fools endurance ride on April 1, perfect weather for riding - sunny, upper 60's no wind . I did a fun/slow 50 miles on Smokey, rode with Connie and Merri all day, good company.

And a lovely April 9 birthday dinner with family at P.F. Changs (the Boise restaurant with a huge horse statue, had to go there - photo with Joel and Melissa). John and I rode our bikes, a great way to get around town. And thanks for all the birthday wishes - that's the one day I really appreciate Facebook!

And now it's really time to warm up April!! Snow in Boise yesterday, making a mockery of the cherry blossoms and landscaping efforts. Didn't last too long maybe an inch, and then turned to cold rain, and the rivers are even higher - record water flow levels. Mountain snow melt still to come! Aaarghhh..!

Ok April, it's not funny any more!


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Owyhee April Fools (Tough Sucker)

Time to get ready for the first ride in the Northwest. We've been doing the Tough Sucker ride for many years - it's always fun, always a challenge because ya never know what the weather is going to be like in April. And this year we had the Winter From Hell with snow and ice all winter long. Record snow levels and low temperatures. And of course all that snow has to melt at some point so we've been having record water flows too. Our bridge is sort of hanging in there - under water for several weeks, hauled some new gravel, it is tenuous though..

So our ride is in (gulp) 2 1/2 weeks - the horses are still fat and furry, it will be a long slow ride. but hey, it's a ride, and the first ride of the year so it will be awesome no matter what.

But since we've been doing this same trail for so long, we decided to spice it up a little this year, a little different scenery. The desert is rather boring. We're going to take the first loop for the 50 and 25 mile riders up Toy Mountain. (optional for trail riders). There's still a bit of snow, but we've been able to find the original trail. It should be fun and beautiful up there.

Loop 2 for 50 and 25 milers will drop down into spectacular Sinker Canyon (optional for trail riders) - it's so gorgeous this time of year with all the rapids.

We've also decided to up our game with a dinner catered by Pierre Le Chef, coming all the way from France to cook his specialties for us.

And! we found a great deal on awards. Solid gold trophies made in Slovenia, very affordable and so lovely!

We hope you can join us for the ride! Steph & Team Tough Sucker


(further updates will be posted at )

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Goodbye Barney!

I was truly saddened to learn of the recent passing of Dr. Leslie B. "Barney" Fleming . He was a friend from the early years of Endurance Riding.

A generous and enthusiastic man, he and his wife Linda were part of this world, especially the multi-day rides. Barney the vet, Linda the farrier. Riding across the southern New Mexico desert, riding the Pony Express trail across America's west - some of our greatest adventures were during that time.

For several years Barney drove up from New Mexico to Idaho to vet our multi-day 'Owyhee Canyonlands'. Fun times and good memories.

Here's a photo of Barney (left) and John (right) taken on Halloween morning during the 2002 Owyhee Canyonland rides - Barney getting ready to watch riders head out on the trail, and John getting ready to check the marking on the ATV.

Goodbye Barney!


Monday, 23 January 2017

Looking back to warmer times...

Well it's been a record-setting snowy cold Idaho, and lacking inspiration for writing something new, I decided to look back at some of the warmer places I've been.

And Malaysia pretty much beats all for warmth! Right?

A little history - in 2005 Malaysia began building an endurance program in earnest. The newly appointed king, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, was a horseman, and had taken an interest in endurance riding. And so it began -

I was fairly high profile at the time with Endurance.Net and my previous international riding adventures, so was invited to come to ride and get involved in the program. What fun, what luck!

Here's the story of my first Malaysia adventure, in 2005. (such a long time ago!)

"There's something very soft and gentle about Malaysia. The air is soft and sweet and humid, the billowy clouds are soft and diffuse, the heat can be intense, but the sun's rays are filtered through the humidity, everything seems bathed in a gentle haze. The people are gentle too - gentle with their horses, gentle with each other. Thinking back on the other places around the world that I've been, with Endurance, with the horses, Malaysia still amazes me... "

Link to 2005 Edaran Classic on Endurance.Net

Thursday, 5 January 2017

It's gonna be a long winter...

We haven't seen dirt since early December, and just had two more snow days - close to 2 feet on the ground now. Yikes it's really pretty, but I think it's gonna get old. Merri is doing most of the outdoor horse stuff now, as I have a winter-wimp reputation to uphold.

John is out clearing the road this morning with the tractor, getting Regina un-stuck, and maybe I'll make it to town this weekend. (still have half 'n half though, so it's not an emergency). Horses are eating a LOT, and really furry, so I think they're ok.

John and I are playing music, I'm trying to re-learn the fiddle and he's swapping between guitar, banjo and mandolin. My fiddlin' is getting better and I'm remembering lots of songs we used to play. But still, it is not an easy instrument! We hooked up a midi keyboard to my iMac, and I'm laying down piano tracks to play by - that's been fun.

I wasn't really planning on riding this winter, but now I have an authentic excuse!

Winter on...


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