Sunday, May 30, 2021

Don't Fence Me In 2021

 Travel and Arrival

I met Cortney and her Mom at the truck stop exit on I-90 mid morning on Friday. From there I followed them through Snoqualmie Pass to the east side of the state. 

Still snow in the upper elevations but the drive over was easy and as we started to descend the clouds cleared and blue skies appeared.

Crossing the Columbia River

We traveled steadily east and turned off of I-90 into just... farmland interspersed among scrub. There weren't any facilities off this exit and then we traveled for miles.

Some kind of yellow flowering crop?

We stopped in Odessa, WA for gas before heading to camp. This was a tiny town. Very tiny.
Ride camp wasn't far out from Odessa, but did require a couple miles of dirt/gravel road that just kicked up incredible dust.  The signage was great and we knew we were close when we started seeing the water tanks. 
Cortney and Reign
We got horses off the trailers and did some basic set up before walking to the front of camp to vet in. Camp was stretched out along a road that went into rangeland. We set up where there was clearing in the scrub for vehicles. 
Jessica and Rio

I originally set Gwyn up in my panels, which I'd used previously in Michigan and at Ride the Loup back in 2019.
Gwyn was less enthused about pen containment and ended up breaking two of my panels before we'd even finished setting up camp. Thankfully, I'd brought my hi-line and decided to use that instead, which did not give me issues. 

We had a trailer safety clinic in ride camp. A big proponent of EDRA is education, which I appreciate. It made me consider upgrading my ball and hitch on the truck. 

The sunset Friday night was just superb. 

Ride Day

This is going to be hard to write. Ride day did not go as I had envisioned. Getting Gwyn's boots on was more difficult than it ever had been. I think she's near the end of her trim cycle and the dust just made the coefficient of friction between her hoof and the boot incredibly high to the point where I couldn't wiggle it on  like I usually do. So frustrations were running high off the bat.

I didn't leave immediately when the trail opened. We ambled out of camp keeping it low key for the horses that needed it. Out of camp we turned right on the dirt road and headed north. As the road stretched up the hill, Dave, the ride photographer (and Cortney's husband), was waiting with his camera. Behind us was a really nice view of Pacific Lake (didn't realize it at the time).  Cortney and I kicked into a canter for the photo op. 
After about a mile we turned off onto 2 track ATV trails through BLM property. 

Unfortunately, rather quickly into the ride my right calf started killing me, with pain shooting up the outside. If I tried to change my position, my ankle started wobbling uncontrollably. I kept fighting my stirrup to find a secure position for my foot and it wasn't happening.

I told Cortney to keep going, because I'd figured we'd reached the point where I needed to ride my own ride. She pulled ahead just before a lollipop loop and shortly after that I was passed by all the other 30s. My leg kept me from maintaining long trotting sections, which this ride definitely required and could sustain. 
I fought my way through the lollipop, trotting until I was in agony and fighting Gwyn who was feeling fit and frustrated that all the horses were ahead of her. There were even times where, since the land was so open, we could see the next horse far ahead of us, at which point I was in more agony trying to keep her from bolting toward them. Plus, every time she bolted, I felt my bladder control just leave the planet. Thanks, kids.

Amazingly, I had service through the whole ride and ended up calling Erica to cry to her about what I was thinking. She comforted me and agreed that the decision I was planning on was the best one. 

When I got back to the end of the lollipop and could have turned right to continue down the trail toward the 20 mile outcheck, I turned left and headed back to camp. 
That small bit of white in the distance is ride camp.

I texted Cortney to let her know and figured she could pass on information as necessary to folks at the out check. 
It was so embarrasing walking into camp and realizing that they thought I was the first returning 50 for a hold. No, please don't cheer. I'm Rider Optioning because my fucking leg can't take it.
I had several miles that I insisted Gwyn walk where I could sit and fiddle with my position. Something is odd with it and it hasn't really reared its head until I was doing a ton of sustained, flat, trotting. I couldn't get the inner ball of my foot to contact the stirrup the way my right foot could. When I tried to really manipulate it, my knee started hurting. If you recall, that same knee is what I really jacked up after camping over labor day weekend. 
So I made a couple of decisions on that walk back. 
1. I go see a physical therapist
2. I get other health stuff sorted
3. I don't do the 25 at Trout Lake
4. I do the 15 mile at Trout Lake

As it was, about a mile from getting back to ride camp, I suddenly had a major need to use the bathroom, like just agonizing bowel pain. Thanks IBS.  

I got Gwyn settled and took an amazing nap. Then I hung out with Trudy until the 30 miles finished and I helped Cortney get situated while she waited to vet out. The line was long and she didn't have any hay for Reign. 

Then I took another nap. Hooboy.

The ride managers gave out awards at an 'impromptu' gathering (BLM didn't want gatherings but had checked on the ride at the out check and were happy with how things were organized). 

Travel Home

We took our time packing up and were on the road by noon.
Then it was through the farm fields back to I-90 and westward bound.
Coming down to the Columbia River

Seeing the Cascades again!
Up into clouds at Snoqualmie Pass
Snoqualmie Summit ski area
Then down the west side and you can literally see the light quality change and it's like being home again
Through a brief rainstorm
And from here it was a little over an hour back to the barn to drop Gwyn off. 

Overall, it was a disappointing return to endurance for me. I left that ride feeling emotionally exhaused and physically in pain. But I'm glad I RO'd. I didn't injure myself further trying to push myself through 30 miles and I didn't come in way over time because I couldn't maintain the necessary pace. 

And now I know a better path forward. 

I've already got an appointment with a physical therapist who specializes in equestrian injuries. I'm hoping I can get things sorted. I'm also really grappling with my functional fitness and what my goals there need to be. Thanks to therapy, I'm getting out the tough conversations there. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Conditioning Again! Lord Hill and Pilchuck Tree Farm

I was having a shitty week and between EDRA board meetings and other schedule conflicts, I wouldn't be able to ride with Cortney. But I made sure to get out by myself because it would be no use if I couldn't condition solo.  Again, I bugged out of work early and grabbed Gwyn. 

She was happy to hop on the trailer and kept looking for a buddy to arrive. 
The yellow is Scotchbloom, which is just EVERYWHERE right now. 
Gwyn was game to climb up the switchbacks to the lookout on the pipeline. She felt stronger than the week prior, which was encouraging to me. 
We took off at a brisk trot up the pipeline, cantering where possible, walking where necessary. 
Then into the woods to loop back and down to the river.
And just reveling in the late afternoon sunlight.

At the river Gwyn was uninterested in swimming or even getting into the water, so we didn't linger.

Then up and past the pond here. I did find an alternate route up from the trail head that wasn't straight gravel road. I might use it as a finishing path rather than walking down the steep gravel and pavement in the future. I did the climb up the switchbacks one more time before realizing that I didn't have much time before the park closed so we turned back to the trailers. At this point, Gwyn fought me about turning around and really wanted to keep going. It was definitely encouraging.
The following Saturday I met Cortney and a new EDRA member, V, at Bracken, Pilchuck Tree Farm. V wanted to see how we condition.  The trip at PTF was more sedate than we would normally do as V's appy was very very slow and V was gaining confidence moving out on the trail with her guy.

It was a gorgeou day and V and Cortney were good companions on the trail. V lives near me so she and I might continue to condition together!

Neither of them were familiar with the trails, so it was up to me to navigate. I don't think I've replicated the same loop twice since I started riding here. I want to get more familiar, but I also appreciate just how many trails there are! There are even trails I haven't touched yet because I didn't know they existed until Cortney pointed them out. She'd ridden here in the past for some events with the rider's association.

The creek was nice to cool off feet before finishing up the ride and I was feeling pretty confident for the endurance ride.