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First Day of the Chief Jo 2013

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCMonday,

The first day of any large ride can prove to be a challenge to some.  Thankfully everyone got out of camp on top of their horse today.

We were told that today would be the easiest ride we would have all week.  The trail followed a forest service road that wound through a valley and beautiful ranch country.  Lots of irrigation and green hay fields, and open range pasture.  One thing about road riding it’s easy to talk to a lot of other riders, so it was a good first days ride.

At one point a deer jumped up and scared Dandy, he spun around and sent Tammy Fae scrambling, which she in turn ran into Hopper.  Sandy and I were behind them and just watched the scrambling.  When it was all over, everyone was still on top, but the GPS had flown out of Doug’s saddle bag and gotten stepped on.  The screen was cracked and it would not work.  Darn, we are going to miss that as we have used it so much.

At lunchtime we walked through an area that had 3 or 4 houses in it.  The people knew we were coming and were out waiting for us.  That was fun.  One man had a sign in his yard that we had gone 8.4 miles.  If we had the GPS we would have known that… Oh well. It was fun to see that other people in the area were excited that we were there.

Later in the day we were going down a road and had to go through a gate because we had run into an auto gate, or what some people would call a cattle guard.  As we started around it we stirred up some old barbed wire.  One of the horses stepped into the wire, but stopped and waited for the wire to be cut.  Once we had the wire pulled out of the way everyone could get through the gate.

We were almost to camp when we passed a pasture of mules and horses. They all had a US brand on them, so we knew they were government animal.  We have a US Forest Service law enforcement person with us all the time.  The officer explained that this forest is backcountry forest so it is monitored and serviced buy mules and horses.

Camp tonight was in a beautiful setting, we were all glad to get out of the gravel pit and onto better ground. After dinner we have some kind of speaker each night.  I really look forward to this, as you learn more about the area and the history.

One of the riders, George, brings coffee beans to the ride each year and roasts them for the camp coffee pots. Every afternoon he roasts beans once we get to camp.  The smell of roasting beans floats through camp, and we all know that George is busy.  Tonight, the cook told us that camp almost had no coffee this morning. Apparently the coffee grinder did not work, but the crew had managed to fix it.  A part had broken and needed to be soldered back together. The kitchen staff had a micro torch, but no solder.  It did not take long before they figured out how where to get some.  They took a bullet, and using the micro torch were able to melt the lead in it into a folded piece of tin foil, thus making a string of led solder to fix the grinder with.  Pretty resourceful if you ask me, and we all got our coffee.

It became obvious to us that water was going to be a real issue on this ride.  We were going to have to be very resourceful about every drop we had.  Thankfully our rig and the 50-gallon barrel that we had along were full when we started, however 4 people living in the trailer for a week, things were going to be a stretch. It seemed that the contractor that was bringing us water from Cody WY either had underestimated what 140 horses and 200 people needed, or he just was contracted for so much water.  The horse water tanks would get empty fast, so being the usual resourceful people that we are a plan was devised.   There was a ½ ton pickup in camp that had a water cube on it.  One like you might see the contractors using to build roads.  Each day some of the crew would go find us more water.  That poor pickup would come back loaded down, but we had more water then.  We all said it was the smallest truck in camp, but got the job done.

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