Our camp. We picked it out in the dark since it was first come first served. The truck tent went up well. Gwyn was perfect on the hi line. She adapted quite well for only being on it two or three times before. And while we had horse neighbors, she was effectively solo. Good pony!
My alarm went off and I snuck out of the tent to go figure out when the LDs were leaving. I had about an hour (the 50s were leaving when I asked) so I signed in, paid and went to tack up since Mary (the ride vet) said I could vet in tacked up.
When I got back Eric and Hazel were getting up so I helped get her cozy in the carrier that Eric prefers.
I left after the CTR riders left, so pretty far behind everyone, which ended up not really mattering. It was good because Gwyn didn't have to deal with race brain. She was ready to move picked up a ground eating trot right away.
The trail out of ride camp actually loops around the woods surrounding the campsites first and it was through this pine forest that was gorgeous. We looped back into camp, coming around the day parking area and then headed out into the rest of the park by passing over a creek.
The trails were a mix of winding single track, deep sandy ATV tracks in the public hunting lands, and hardpacked dirt roads. I tried to keep in mind what Cortney told me on my first ever LD. Keep moving, go faster where you can but keep your pace steady.
My first loop we averaged 5.5 mph, which was much faster than my intended 6mph! I caught up to the CTR group quickly and then leap frogged them the rest of the first loop. I also caught two LD riders on gated horses. We all ended up coming into the hold together. Since we walked the last bit in, Gwyn was already down for P/R and I vetted her right away and went to nurse Hazel while Gwyn stuffed her face.
It was right about lunch time so we went back to our camp site and I stuffed my face while Gwyn continued to stuff hers. I also peed. I then saw the group I came in with go out on the trail. Ooops. I was way over time and apparently thought I had an hour. I should have checked my out time. Oh well. I went back and finished tacking up and did a trot out for the vet and was given the go ahead to leave.
On the second loop: Gwyn did not want to go and we didn't have a buddy this time to encourage her. We did the loop through camp again then crossed the road to do another loop and then back out into the public hunting land. I could already tell she was tired because we had 50s fly by us and she didn't want to race to keep up with them. That was when I knew this loop was going to royally suck.
Ride sign at the park entrance
I will say, compared to the hunter pace this ride was incredibly well marked and clear where I needed to go. I was riding solo for most of it and I definitely appreciated the clarity, especially after I lost my map :(
I didn't take a lot of photos on the second loop. I was having to keep Gwyn moving and we were both tired. I do have a great video clip of me explaining some awesome forest ecology while we walked and mosied along, LOL.
It was right around this sandy area that I felt my stomach rumble and not in a good way. I suspect the energy drink and food was to blame. Either way, my digestive system was waking up and it was not happy. I finally found a stump I thought I could use to help me back on and dropped trou and let loose. Oh sweet relief. Then, pants down, I tried to find big enough leaves to wipe. Note to self, carry toilet paper.
Getting on was fine though I was paranoid for a few miles that I had used poison oak to wipe with. All seems to be good though.
My legs were giving up on me. Gwyn was tired and would pick up a couple steps of trot and then just go back to walking. I had brought my crop and it was only through constant use and constant leg that I could keep her faster than a trot and mentally I wasn't sure I wanted to make that effort.
I thought we were close at this point. But then we did this HUGE loop through more State Game Land and basically got shot at on either side. I also passed a dad and daughter, the dad was carrying a shot gun. It was great. Not. The gun shots were the one thing that motivated Gwyn to get into a canter to get away.
When we finally hit the back to camp trail it was sweet relief and I think even Gwyn figured out we were close. There was a bit more pep in her step as we did a slow trot winding through the forest. She pulsed down pretty quickly and I untacked her in camp, sponged her since the day had warmed up significantly and she has the beginning of her winter coat and let her snack a bit. She drank just fine on the trail but wasn't really eating and I wanted those gut sounds to be good.
We passed our vetting with flying colors, though neither Gwyn nor I was really enthusiastic for the trot out.
But we completed. We finished. And to Finish is to Win. I am super proud of us both and can't wait for next year to do some better preparation.
Napping pony doesn't even care there aren't other horses nearby.
She has to rest the hoof.
We packed up camp and loaded Gwyn up and said our goodbyes. Kaylee was being watched by Grandma and Grandma had a half marathon in Detroit the next day so we needed to get back that night. I got my completion prize (glow sticks) and alas, there was no turtle award, which I totally would have gotten.
I promised I'd come for the whole weekend next year, especially since the organizer is planning to do an out and back 100 and will need volunteers. I can volunteer for the 100 and ride the next day, or just trail ride the next day and make it a horsey camping weekend. It'll be fun either way.
To copy some other writers who do endurance, here's what worked and what I need to improve for next time:
The hi line and camping in general.
Camelbak backpack for stuff
ziploc baggie for vet card
saddle and pad were fine
Eric and Hazel - Hazel loves being outside and she got to be outside all day. Everyone in ride camp was commenting about her, they all knew I was pregnant with her last year at this ride.
Improvements:Actually reserve a site in advance and get a pull through spot close to vet check
Bring toilet paper in
A second saddle pad to switch to for the second loop for comfort
Do more focused electrolytes to prevent the slump we saw
Go alone. Leave the kids with Eric and don't worry about taking care of a tiny human during holds