Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tevis 2016

So this post took awhile. And not just because of catching up on sleep after far too many hours awake, but THEN catching up on a pile of work, and just wanting a bit of a break!

But, spoiler alert, my rider finished! She and the mule Ears Looking At You were a big hit all day. And it was a long day. Here is how the schedule works out for a crew person, so come help out sometime! Even if your rider is pulled you learn so much helping out, plus I always love the adage did not finish is better than did not start! This is a very non-sexy look at the ride, the backstage crew story, too long and detailed without many photos (too busy!), but that is kind-of what the whole day is like…

T - one day In the days before the ride I packed up my trailer with two different rider's gear. I was going to meet them at Robinson Flat, 36 miles into the ride. Some crew also stay at the start, Robie Point, and then drive down (for an even longer day!) Coolers packed with ice, feed for horse and human, all ready to go…when my second rider decided not to start. She was just not confident in her horses gaits, she just thought something was off (and 100 miles would be sure to show it.) She opted to try again another year (she finished last year). So unpack that stuff and get ready for the early morning ahead.

4:15am Damn, that's early. I left the house at 4:15am, was waiting to pick up other crew in Auburn at 4:25am. An uneventful drive out to Robinson Flat as the sun rises, waiting in the car line to drop off our gear. Gear and crew delivered, the truck is driven out of the camp to park along the road. The crew area is set…and we wait.

Foreshill Divide sunrise

driving with the caravan into Robinson

10:06am The front-runners come in looking great. Crew line up along the road with buckets and sponge, and pull tack as the riders come in. My rider comes in at 10:06am and then the next hour is so busy! Feeding horse, rider, filling waterbottles and resupplying backpacks, changing tack, and always watching the clock. Get the rider out on time!

the waiting area

helpers heading back with tack to our crew area

vetted through! His old trainer came to help

keen to head off again

And we did. then it is time to pack up our stuff and head down to Foresthill. We won't see our rider for so many miles and canyons. Luckily there are great volunteers at the other checks. A few checks you can try to get in to, but some are quite a hike and not the best use of your time.

picture stolen from Facebook, leaving Robinson

11:45am Then the drive to Foresthill. Where you wait some more. Some of my crew went back to Auburn to rest and eat, some socialized, I get a bit overwhelmed with too many people (total introvert here) so I just organized the trailer and crew stuff, relaxed, read my book, sat in the shade and tried not to melt (it was close to 100 degrees, yuck).

5:30pm Then we get buckets and cart ready for Bath Road, where the riders come in. Horses come in hot, ice water is available and needed!

6:24pm Right on estimated time! Tack is pulled, water is sponged, mule is taken to vet (and comes back great!) and we go back to the trailer to refill the camelbak, attach glowsticks, shove food into the rider, try to figure out what is rubbing her left leg raw on the saddle (attachment for saddlepacks was the culprit). And watch the time, always.

Bath Road cool down

And she's off on time! Next time we see her will be in (hopefully) Auburn, the volunteers will take good care of them in-between. We have been obsessively watching the new GPS system, following different riders, sucking our phone batteries dead in the process. It is definitely nice to have, though not all riders have them, and is a good addition to the Tevis tracking system.

leaving Foresthill (on time!)

trotting through town (photo by JM)

8:00pm Now we pack up the trailer, and all the stuff, back into my truck and the trailer that will be going back to the Auburn fairgrounds. The trailer is parked, and my crew scatters to their local homes to try and get a little rest. It is 10pm, and our rider is not expected until 2am. Sleep while you can! I am lucky enough to live very close, and a shower is beckoning (Foresthill is epically dusty). I lay in bed, too wired to sleep, but set the alarm in case. And at 1am I groggily hear the buzzing, I think sleeping for a few hours may have been worse!

1:30am But I head back over to the fairgrounds, where I check the GPS system and see my rider is about an hour behind her estimated time. She has never ridden at night, is everything OK? The dot keeps moving though, so I anxiously hope for the best. The rest of the crew straggles in. Some are able to fall asleep in a folding chair, the rest of us wait and watch riders trickle in. The top 10 have come in hours before, now riders come in a couple at a time, long stretches between, to an empty stadium but a few of us clapping each time!

Our rider has crossed No Hands bridge, she is on her way! That is the longest wait, and I'm sure the longest 4 miles of trail these horses and riders have ever experienced.

almost here! watching that little marker like a hawk
3:32am They're here! The mule looks great and strong, after their victory lap we pull tack, quick sponge and blanket. The mule decides he only wants to eat Ultium feed, none of his usual grains, and grass hay, no alfalfa. Whatever he wants! My rider looks dazed as we bundle her into a chair.

finish line! Finishing with another horse of a different type: Mustang
finish trot out

Luckily there is crew to trot the mule, as my rider looks a bit beat! With a successful trot out and vet, that's a completion! First for my rider, second for this mule (out of 4 attempts). We all talk and wait and watch the mule eat, and eat, until another hour or so has passed, when there is another vet check. Mule is good to go! Non-local people often use the nice barns and stalls, but the mule lives literally less than 10 minutes away and would be much happier at home with his friend. So we load him up, load up the rider, gear, etc, and head for home.

finally done for the day

4:58am I am done! My rider has a friend who will stay and take care of her and mule. I just want to fall into bed. I usually get up early and attend the Haggin Cup judging, but this year I was burned out from too much sun, not enough sleep, etc. and slept in! It takes another day to feel human again, and we're the crew, not the riders or horses! These mountains and canyons have a magnetic draw: train, start or finish, success is found in whatever is accomplished in the name of Tevis.


  1. Love the recap and the mule!

  2. Congrats all around to both rider and mule! They looked great. Sure a part of their success was having a good, organized ground crew ;)

  3. Busy day! But aren't all rides in their own right? Congrats to Muley. How awesome!

  4. nice post!
    I made it to Forest Hill as a spectator this year-next year maybe I can help. I posted a few pics on my blog Endurance or Bust and more on FB the day of the ride.
    My GPS wouldn't work there...I was going to wait on E and the mule to come through...but left about 30 min. too early. I didn't see you guys at all...should I have been looking for orange? LOL

    1. Glad you made it to watch some! There is always room for volunteers too. No orange for E, that's my color, we had pretty blue shirts to match her tack!