Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tevis fun ride

Every other year, Tevis has a fun ride. This is on the Tevis trail, but is a casual ride (unlike the Ed Ride, which has mentors, costs a lot, etc). I hadn't done this part of the trail (I've done the first 30 miles, and the end 11 miles, but not much in the middle!), had a free weekend, so why not!

hi-tie happy horses

Taking along a partner in crime (C and Friday), the drive was uneventful, and we found a good spot where both horses could be on their high tie but in sandy footing. (FYI: Love the high ties! Both horses had complete meltdown moments over the weekend, dancing and spinning, no problems!).

thunderheads threatened, but stayed away

Day 1
There were going to be two marked trails, so we decided on the first day to try the shorter one. This is from Foresthill to Michigan Bluff. We'd be riding it as an out-and-back, though Tevis riders just come in on that trail.

Before we started off we heard that two horses were already lost! They had gotten free at the creek crossing, which was very close to camp. We'd be on the lookout for them! Someone (ahem, Major) was a little fired up, so there aren't many pictures. He led a group of three other horses most of the trail. Down down down, cross the rushing and tricky footed Volcano creek, then up, up, up. A little level bit of rusty earth, then Chicken Hawk Staging area (filled with tasty grass). We decided not to continue on, as there isn't much to see in Michigan Bluff (and I've already crewed from there before). So we headed back to do it all again!
Paragon mine heading into Volcano canyon

nice trail outside Chicken Hawk


blurry Volcano canyon creek

This is the smallest canyon on Tevis. Most people will do this in the light. There weren't the drop-offs like in other sections, but some tricky, rolling baby-head rocky areas, steep climbs and descents, and a seriously tough trail!

Heading back we went up one last big climb…and lost the two people with us! We waited a bit, but went back after them. They had found the lost horses! One was catchable, the other followed. Back up the hill, now on Bath Road, their relieved owner found us. Thank goodness!

We went about untacking and cleaning up the horses. Sadly, the taco truck that was going to stay until 7pm (it was only 6pm) had already left! So I snacked on stuff I'd brought, and that's why I always bring too much food!
night snacking

Day 2
The trail wasn't open until 9:30am, which was a bit late, then we waited for all the faster folks to leave. I did not want Major thinking this was any sort of race. And it worked. He was good all day about passing and being passed by others, and since he was with his buddy Friday, it was "just" a trail ride in his mind.

We headed through the town of Foresthill, with people out and about, cars backing onto our path, etc. Two hands firmly on the reins, even in boots I don't like riding on the asphalt road! We turned on California Street and once on the trail I could relax: almost entirely singletrack, much of it green and leafy (not so much in August for Tevis riders).

heading into the town of Foresthill

looking out at those canyons we'll be riding!

Dardenelles creek, cool and refreshing area

After crossing Dardenelles Creek multiple times, the trail hugged the canyon edge, with lots of switchbacks, and even a few unexpectedly big climbs! (I assumed we'd be just descending all the way to the river). There was plenty of small stream crossings, with was good, because it was warming up and both horses drank admirably! This section of trail has a lot of steep cliffs, and switchbacks, and Tevis riders do it in the dark. And after 60+ miles. Kudos to them, I'll keep it as a day ride!

down in the canyon

blurry twining snake lily, they were everywhere!

A short detour at Ford's Bar led us down to the river. Where we encountered something the Tevis riders don't have to deal with at night: rafters! A few horses near us did not handle that well, but Major just looked up at the rafts floating by, kept drinking, and even got his picture taken by enthusiastic rafters.
hi rafters!

don't bother me, I'm drinking (and playing)

Good thing we'd cooled off, because there was a long climb ahead. At least that was a wider trail…the next section got very narrow, rocky and not for the faint of heart. I thought it was awesome. The section called Sandy Bottom was next, which is exactly how it sounds, sandy. After miles of dirt and rocks, it was unexpected and fun. We did encounter two horses having a melt-down as the rafts below whacked their paddles in the water, the rafters just having fun. (It does sound like gun shots.) Major and Friday did not notice it, so we continued. You never know what you'll encounter on the trails!

7+ miles to go

ruck-a-chucky rapids, with guide raft going down!
After staring down at the treacherous Ruck-A-Chucky rapids (rafters, except the guide's raft, have to portage around this section) we were almost at our final destination. C was getting a bit of sunstroke at this point, I'd almost run out of water (forgot the my lifestraw for river water, damn!). I was glad that the previous day I'd consciously decided to drink lots and lots extra (even if that getting-up-in-the-night thing isn't so fun). We stopped at a creek crossing the trail, where I declared that C had to use the horse scoop to cool herself off. Ice cold water helped for her for sure! What I didn't realize was that the ride photographer was just ahead…looking a bit disheveled after 18 hot miles, I smiled for the camera anyway.

coming up the trail (used with purchase)

still happy ears! (used with purchase)
 We did detour from the Tevis trail here, and instead of going into the Francisco's Staging area, we headed up the long, dirt road to Driver's Flat. Major lost all hope at one point, but as we neared the top the horses somehow knew the finish was close! At the top we were greeted with alfalfa and water troughs, both of which the horses enjoyed! We all got a ride back to Foresthill, a long, hot ride complete.

I think one of the hardest things about horses, but a good thing too, is that their care comes first. As hot and tired as I was, Major got sponged and cleaned and a delicious mash before I had even taken off my sweaty chaps. Then I could sit with a lemonade and can of Pringles (guilty pleasure ride food), and relax. Until I had to shovel some poop, or fill a water bucket! C was feeling better after cooling off, we spent a quiet night where we went to bed extra early!

Going Home
People could ride Sunday, but the camp was clearing out quickly, And so did Major's brain. Both Major and Friday danced around, calling to unknown friends, while they were each on either side of the trailer. Sigh. At least they looked good and sound after that tough trail!

ridiculous horse is miffed at something

Credit to Tevis riders even more, that is one hard trail. In the dark, or in the daylight, it's still tough. This did not increase my interest to ride it, I'll stick with crewing and sweep riding, to support those out to compete in their dream.


  1. Darn! You called me out for being a wimp. I'll admit: I didn't take care of myself and was really about to go down. But this is the kind of wonderful riding partner and friend this gal is! I am so grateful for her!

    1. Not a wimp, just not your best day. That's what friends are for...

  2. What a COOL experience. I always love hearing more about this trail from folks. It's amazing how folks can describe it so differently. Love your photos, as always - especially the one of the rapid with the guide raft for scale!

    1. The river is great fun for rafting, helmets required for sure! The trail is hard, but fun. I think a lot of people (understandably) treat it with a lot of reverence, for me, it's almost in my backyard!

  3. Major is looking GOOD, and sounds like you both had fun too! I really want to try doing the fun ride one day just to see and experience the trail for myself :)

    1. Come on up any time, we can find you a horse! Not just for the fun ride, there is access to most of the trail all year.

  4. Glad to see that you got to ride that portion of the trail. Thanks for the picts and comments. It gives us all a better idea of the ride. Yes, I would definetly stick to crewing.

    1. I was glad to finally see that part! And now I know it, so can do it again (though maybe when it is cooler!)

  5. What a great weekend of riding!! And that look that Major has at the end - classic arab! Ashke gets that look all the time.

    1. Oh yes, I think Major and Ashke share so many traits, including "silly arab" faces!

  6. Oh this is so cool. I had heard about the ed ride (a good friend of mine went recently) but didn't know about the fun ride! What a great way to see this amazing trail without the cost and the pressure. I am very, very jealous. Thank you for taking so many wonderful photos. With the rush of Tevis, it's rare to see actual photos on trail. It's even more gorgeous than I imagined it. I'm super sad the Taco Truck left before you got to it, though :(

    1. Taco truck was sad, but the trail was worth it. Hope one day you get out here to experience the trail for yourself.