Fandango website- http://www.endurance.net/International/USA/2010Fandango/
I really really like putting on these rides. I'm voraciously driven by the trails. I love a good party - which I try to make these events feel like. I like the people that come to ride, the volunteers, the vets. I like designing logos and coming up with awards and fun stuff. I like putting together the maps, and spending time pouring over Google Earth images. I'm less wild about doing registration and results, but have learned some time saving techniques - being a ride manager is just a grand way for me to throw my energy into things that I love doing.
This year we had day after day of crappy weather leading up to the ride so I was able to have a lot of things well organized and 'ready to go' before the event started. I'm really glad I did because I was very short handed and pretty much spent dawn to dusk running the ride as it was.
I spent a lot of extra time on the trail this year - finding some new sections, testing and then flagging some fun trails that weren't accessible except by hoof or foot. Merri helped a lot with this (and John too when he could) and it was nice to have company on the explorations. And there are always some special moments and scenes when out marking trail - I took a few extra photos of some of the wagon wheel rutted Oregon Trail sections and of the petroglyph boulders along the Snake River and the two feral horses that we see above browns creek every once in a while (small gallery here - http://www.endurance.net/International/USA/2010Fandango/gallery/oregontrailmarking/).
I was glued to the weather forecast pages during the week leading up to the ride. It was pretty grim, but I discovered quite a difference in forecast depeding on which website I went to. the NOAA (weather.gov) site was totally depressing, they use the most discouraging icons for their daily forecasts. Weather.com was much happier, with more little sunshine icons, so I generally went there to check. (might as well avoid discouragement when possible :)
We had scheduled a Hoof Clinic for Thusday afternoon - and luckily the clouds cleared and the weather was perfect for the clinic. Christoph Schork (Global Endurance Training Center) did a fantastic job. Three hours including discussion of 'barefoot' principles and techniques, hoof protection products on the market, and a fantastic demo. He used my horse Jaziret to demonstrate trimming techniques and tools to to use.. and how to use them. How to fit and put on Eascare Gloves, and how to glue boots on. It was an excellent clinic - I only had time for the demo, but learned a lot there. Christoph is a very good teach and clinician. There was too much for me to write about, but here are some photos http://www.endurance.net/international/USA/2010Fandango/gallery/hoofclinic/
Camp did NOT fill up by Thursday evening (the ride started Friday morning) and I was feeling pretty glum about that - and the drizzle that greeted the riders on Friday morning enticed several that had come to ride, to stay in camp for the day instead! But, as it turned out the drizzle stopped just as the riders left camp and didn't return until Monday morning after the ride was over. we got lucky! Friday was actually a perfect riding day - cool but not cold, cloudy (yuck) but perfect for the horses and fast riding times.
I didn't have Regina or John to help me but did manage to round up enough folks to work the vet check out at Browns Creek and help with finishes in camp. (THANK THE GODS FOR THE FOLKS THAT HELP AT THESE RIDES!! we couldn't do it without them). For me it was a day of pre-riding trail on the ATV to set up 'helper strings' on all of the many gates the riders had to open/close, searching for separated horses and riders (everything turned out ok), and then riding the trails again after all the riders had passed through to make sure the gates were shut. I estimated that I opened and closed 34 gates that day and put close to 100 miles on the ATV. Big gates, little gates, double gates, loose, tight, falling apart... man there were a lot of gates. And since I had used a lot of single track trail that I couldn't take the ATV on, I had to do at least 10-20 extra miles each way (with extra gates) on the ATV just to circle around from trail-start, to trail-end.
But the riders loved the trail - it went through some beautiful remote areas, into a section with huge rock outcrops, and the wildflowers were incredible. Thigh high lupines ranging from cream to blue to purple to lavendar to pink - and smelling so good! And the bitterbrush with it's sweet smelling yellow blossom. Indian paintbrush, flox, camus, larkspur, biscuitroot, evening primrose, bitterroot, buckwheat, asters, daisies... an amazing display.
I arrived back at camp after everybody had finished, in time to compile the results and put together the awards. Then maps and info for the next day's ride, and then into the late night hours putting together starting list and logistic plans for the next day. One down!
more to come,