Due to overwhelming Facebook demand, we have decided to offer some of our branded NDR items for sale through the website! Just in time for holiday shopping, we have t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, and more. To kick off the grand "opening" of the store -- 2015 wall calendar are on sale! Visit the store HERE and start shopping! Shipping and handling is free and all proceeds will help fund our 2015 ride. We appreciate all your support to get this epic ride underway!
***Drum roll please!*** After months of studying maps and thousands of miles of trail scouting... here is the final route for the 2015 Nevada Discovery Ride! (You can click the map to enlarge it.)The ride will begin at the geographic center of Nevada. From there the route runs east through central Nevada, drops south down the spine of the White Pine Range, a short jaunt east again, north all the way up near the Idaho border, west across the northernmost part of Nevada along the Oregon border, and then drops south again to finally end in Reno. Whew! With the same plan of averaging 20 miles a day, and rest days built in weekly, this 1,100 mile route will take 70 days to complete. I plan to leave mid-August and should arrive in Reno at the end of October.
In many ways this route should prove to be much more exciting than last year's route. It includes a whopping 23 mountain range crossings, wilderness areas, desert crossing, forests, one interstate and one highway crossing, the Pony Express Trail, Hasting's Cutoff, the California Trail, primitive pack trails, and active railroad lines. Of course, it will also offer plenty of ghost towns and other forgotten sites. This time around we will only ride through one town: Jarbidge (population 182). Cell service will be spotty (just like last time) but I can promise there will be some epic photos and stories to share with you all.
Now that the route is finalized, I can get on with other ride preparations. I have some more gear to acquire, sponsors to find, and conditioning to do with Sage. We also need to set an actual ride start date. On the plus side, I may have secured a house/pet sitter (fingers crossed!) and I have already gotten the okay from my employer -- thank goodness! The next few months may be light on updates, but that's only because I won't want to bore you with behind-the-scenes ride preps. But things will definitely pick up as the ride date gets closer! Stay tuned :)
Welcome to the geographic center of Nevada... or as it will be known this time next year: the start of the 2nd Nevada Discovery Ride! Ryan and I spent this holiday weekend racking up the miles to scout more sections of the route. We began where I plan to begin -- in the middle of the state. There is not much in this valley southeast of Austin, except for this little marker. There's not even cell service, which means I won't be able to post a picture of our send off! But, I think it will be a great place start. Did you notice that road to the right of the sign? That's my road for day 1 heading off into the Monitor Range!
We also scouted Kalamazoo Pass (just northeast of Ely), Schellbourne Pass (on the famed Pony Express Trail), the Antelope Range and Valley, Goshute Valley, the Pequop Range (and it's unsettling route right next to an active railroad line), and finally, my Interstate 80 crossing (not easy!). On that last one -- I always harp about the importance of scouting in advance (where possible) and I think this trip proved my point. After consulting topo and satellite maps I thought I had found a good route across the very busy interstate... but when we went to check it out we found there is no gate along the fence line, and thus no way around the cattle guard! We ended up checking several more exits in an attempt to find a safe way across the highway. It seems no interstate exits have gates built into their fencing. And I suppose it makes sense - why would you need one? Anyway, after checking out several exits we finally settled on one, but it too lacks a gate, so now we know that Ryan will have to carry a piece of plywood in the truck that we can lay over the cattle guard for Sage to cross. Better to know that now then be stuck alongside the interstate next year!
We saw only a few bands of horses in our travels (photos below) but they all looked pretty healthy. There is, of course, beautiful country out there, and seeing bits of it just makes me more excited to hit the trail next year. All that's left to do route-wise is re-scout the Jarbidge area. It's the only part of the ride where I will be on old pack trails in a wilderness area. That means trails that may or may not be visible anymore, very tough mountain terrain, and absolutely no vehicle access - which means Ryan can't get in with supplies. So, we're going to try to head back out there in the fall and that should be our last place to scout! In the meantime, I should have our final route map and itinerary posted this week!!
On a side note, thanks to everyone that came out to the Wild Horse Faire in Virginia City last weekend. I feel like I talked to about a hundred people! Everyone was super supportive and excited to follow the next ride. I also raised about $550 through the sale of our branded merchandise. All of that of course will help fund the next ride. So thank you also to everyone who bought something. I have had a lot of requests, so I will work on getting some of that merchandise available through this website for people to purchase. Stay tuned!
This weekend (Saturday, August 23) is the 1st annual Wild Horse Faire in Virginia City! This exciting all-day event is going to be a celebration of wild horses. Along with demos, arts & crafts, music, and food, there will be dozens of horse-themed vendors. Look for the Nevada Discovery Ride booth, where I will be promoting the next ride and selling branded t-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars, stickers, and more. Everything is between $0.50 and $20.00 and proceeds will benefit the next ride. We have some really cool new items (I'm loving the t-shirts!) so definitely plan to stop by, browse, and say hello! I've had a few people message me that they can't make it to the faire but want to buy a t-shirt -- so I will get an order form up on the website soon.
The next ride may be a year away, but it takes a lot of preparation to undertake a safe long ride. We continue to pour over maps and finalize the route. In fact, Ryan and I will be heading out once again for another trail scouting trip at the end of the month. For this latest exploration we'll be checking out trails between Ely and Elko (in eastern Nevada). I'm sure I'll have plenty of stories and photos to share with you when we return.
In the meantime, I'll leave you with a few photos from recent activities. Many thanks to the Natural Horsemanship Association of Northern Nevada for inviting me to be a presenter at their monthly meeting last week. I think we had about 20-30 people there (I'm bad at counting!) and it was just a lovely group of people. Yesterday Sage and I headed up into the Mt. Rose wilderness area with some good friends for a beautiful, but challenging, ride through the mountains. Finally, look at who I spotted scuttling across the road on a recent ride through the desert! Six years I've lived in Nevada and that is the first tarantula I've ever seen!
The hardest part of planning for the next ride seems to be finishing the route! I'm about halfway done, but I'm just not sure where I want to end the ride. To help get ideas, Ryan and I just returned from a whirlwind road trip through the northernmost portion of Nevada, where we explored several of my route options. Over the course of 1,000+ miles we got to see some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the state. It is certainly inspiring to see such amazing country and several times I found myself saying "I want to ride through here!"
We began our adventure in Jarbidge, a small town in a remote canyon in northeastern Nevada, not far from the Idaho border. There's no such thing as a spontaneous drive through Jarbidge -- you have to want to go there. That's because after driving all the way to Elko (four hours from Reno) it's another several hours along a dirt road to the tiny town. We loved the mountains and the many flowing streams and creeks. Lots of tall grasses too - something for Sage to look forward to! On the way we did get a flat tire, but Ryan threw on the spare and we made it Jarbidge in one piece. Surprisingly, Jarbidge was pretty busy for such a remote town. Lots of campers and ATVs. Though the winter population is 12 people, it's hardly a ghost town in the summer and fall when recreation seekers and hunters flock to the area. Nonetheless, we found the residents to be quite helpful and they gave us some good contacts for when we pass through during the ride.
The next day, we headed for the east side of the Jarbidge Mountains. We found the perfect place to camp, perched high up on the mountain overlooking the O'Neil Basin far below. We spent a few hours hiking along an old pack trail which crossed a nice flowing stream and led us back into the wilderness area. The pack trail started out great, but unfortunately we lost it in the thick brush. I'll have to find a different route through to Jarbidge it seems. This is why it is so important to scout trails before the ride. You can stare at maps forever, but you don't know what the conditions are unless you see it. Especially with back country riding, it's best to scout in advance wherever possible. I'm sure I'll find a good route through -- there seem to be an abundance of pack trails on the topo maps to choose from. This is one section we'll definitely want to come scout again before the ride.
We left out perfect little camp spot and dropped down the long valley to the interstate and headed east. In Winnemucca we turned north and headed for the Santa Rosa Range. I really liked this range. The road in, though steep, was well maintained. Inside, I was surprised to find a pretty landscape of rolling hills, tabletop mesas, and lots of water and grass. The gentle country was dotted with roaming cows, but few people. This is one section I definitely look forward to riding through. I especially loved the view coming down from the Windy Gap summit. Stunning is the only word to describe it. This is the Nevada most people do not get to see.
After descending the Santa Rosas, we headed for the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in the western part of the state. It is desolate and dry country out there, despite the numerous springs. We saw an abundance of pronghorn antelope in the refuge, but only two wild horses. These handsome guys were standing in the tall sage near the road, but didn't run off when we drove by. The stallion in front with the little star on his head seemed to have sustained a pretty serious break in his rear left pastern or fetlock at some point. His lower leg was pretty swollen, but most disturbing was how his hoof now twisted unnaturally sideways. Despite this horrific injury, he seemed to be quite healthy and mobile. I was glad to see he had a friend with him. Ryan and I checked out two of the refuge's "horse friendly" campgrounds, both of which had corrals. This region is a question mark for me in terms of the ride route, but I'm glad we got to see it.
So it's back to the maps for me as I continue to firm up the final route. For now, I'll leave you with what is certain... I plan to begin at the geographic center of Nevada and head northeast to meet up with the Pony Express Trail. Just before the Utah border we'll head north and make our way northwest to Jarbidge. From there? Well we will see what the maps suggest. I'll certainly keep you all posted!
I am so happy that the winter doldrums are over! Sage and I have been busy taking advantage of the warm weather, logging many miles around the Reno area. In fact, we already did a three-day horse camping trip! Lucky for me, we were able to dive right into riding this spring because we never really stopped during the winter. Conditioning is much easier when you don't let snow slow you down!
Along with riding, I have been very busy with other horse activities. You may remember that Easyboot was a sponsor for the first Nevada Discovery Ride. I can't say enough about how wonderful the Easyboot Epics were during the ride -- I absolutely credit them with our success and Sage's healthy hooves after 450 miles. Well, I am very excited to have been chosen to be a 2014 Team Easyboot member. As such, I can be a reference for people who want information on the different kinds of boots and help with sizing. I'll also be blogging for the Easyboot website once a month. I'm working on my first blog so stay tuned for that!
But first I had to finish another article: http://www.equitrekking.com/articles/entry/experience-nevadas-diversity-riding-the-american-discovery-trail/. Equitrekking is an Emmy award winning PBS show that highlights some of the best horseback riding destinations in the world. I am very excited to contribute to their 50 State Trails Project - with the first article for Nevada all about the American Discovery Trail equestrian alternate route which is what I rode last year. I'm happy to showcase all the things Nevada has to offer, especially to an audience that, for the most part, doesn't really know Nevada.
It's wonderful how popular the ride continues to be... Next month I have two talks scheduled. On May 2 I will speak at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Reno and on May 31 I will speak at the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park in Minden. I might be running out of Reno-Carson venues to speak at -- time to start looking out of state! Speaking of, I'm also in talks with Colorado Public Radio for an interview on long riding next month. Busy, busy!
All of this publicity is very exciting and I am honored to have a forum to use the ride to talk about so many things that interest people -- whether it's wild horses or adventure, there's something for the ride that appeals to everyone. I consistently meet amazing people because of the ride and I am grateful for that. Of course I constantly ask myself how I can do more to encourage wild horse adoption - which has always been the goal of the NDR. Sage continues to be a wonderful ambassador and we've generated a lot of buzz in the local community, but I wish I could take it to the next level some how. Well I'll just keep dreaming/scheming and see what I can come up with :)
As for our next adventure -- Now that the 2015 route is pretty much finalized Ryan and I will spend portions of the summer scouting. I've already started replacing gear and thinking about the many logistical issues. One of which is how I'm going to justify taking 2 1/2 months off work!
Enough about me! I want to let you know about another long ride that I am keeping an eye on. The Long Trail Home begins in just a few days. Matt Littrell, a former Marine, will ride two mustangs (!) from North Carolina to California to raise money for Semper Fi Fund which aids wounded veterans. Matt has already received a ton of press and he seems well prepared for his journey. I'm looking forward to his updates from the trail. Unfortunately, his route avoids Nevada, but we won't hold that against him!
Till next time ~ Samantha
It's so exciting to see the next Nevada Discovery Ride start to come together! It brings back all those exciting pre-ride feelings of anticipation and expectation. We have what you might call a first draft of the proposed route put together. It starts and ends in Reno, making a big loop across Northern Nevada. It tops out at just over 1,000 miles, which I'm estimating we can complete in 2 1/2 months. We're thinking of a fall ride this time - heading out in August or September. What's cool about the proposed route is that we will spend the first portion on familiar terrain... We are going to ride back across the American Discovery Trail, the opposite direction from the way we rode last time. In some ways that will prove to be a nice warm-up for Sage and I, since we already know what to expect. But, we will cut off the ADT near Cave Lake and head north. The trail will eventually touch Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and California. It will include portions of the Pony Express Trail, Hasting's Cutoff, the California Trail, and the Applegate Trail. Once again it will take us through ghost towns, state parks, and wilderness, but we'll also get to ride through some new hidden Nevada gems like Jarbidge, Tuscarora, and Sheldon Wildlife Refuge. Ryan will provide much of the support of feed and water. We're aiming for next year - 2015.
Of course anyone who followed the first ride knows just how much planning goes into a long ride. Now that we have a first draft route we need to scout questionable sections, make TOPO maps, and fix/replace gear from the last ride! I'll also need to try to talk people into helping. (Who is going to house/pet sit this time? Mom? Mom???) But this next year will be fun (and challenging) as the ride continues to morph and change until we're ready to hit the trail. Did I mention that Ryan and I both are still at the University of Nevada, Reno working on degrees and working full time too?? It will no doubt be a busy year ahead...
In other news, winter is severely delayed in our neck of the woods. Not great for the Sierra Nevada snow pack, but great for riding. Sage and I have been out and about as much as we can. Often, we're lucky to ride with great friends. Bella is still accompanying us on the trail as well. She seems to enjoy the day rides as much as we do, zigzagging across the desert chasing jackrabbits. Sage is doing well. Today he and Geo got adjusted by a new chiropractor. Sage was a little tight in his poll and the bottom of his spine, but it was nothing a few good cracks couldn't alleviate.
I'm still making the rounds regionally giving talks on the ride. This month we were honored to be invited to speak at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City. Nearly 100 people came out to hear about our adventures! It was a wonderful crowd. We have a few more talks in the works, and I'll add them to the website as soon as they are confirmed. I'm happy to share tales from the trail with anyone that wants to listen - from horse aficionados to city slickers. If you'd like to book an entertaining and educational presentation on long riding, wild horses, and the beauty of Nevada just email me at email@example.com.
Ryan and I spent this Christmas Eve on our first trail scouting mission for the 2nd Nevada Discovery Ride! We explored an area about 150 miles north of Reno. The country was nice with rolling hills and old dirt roads. We saw a huge herd of wild burros and another huge herd of antelope. We didn't see many people! We drove as far as we could until the "road" became impassable thanks to large volcanic rocks. We decided not to risk the truck so we hiked around a bit. One really nice thing about this trail is that there is plenty of water flowing from streams. We found an old sheepherders camp complete with an old wooden corral, windmill, and a pump-fed cattle trough filled to the brim with water. We also found an hot spring -- but we didn't get in.
I'm pretty excited about our first scouting trip. It really looked like pleasant country to ride throuh. Of course there is plenty more scouting to do before we're ready to hit the trail again! I'll be hitting the maps hard over the next few months. By the time the nice spring weather rolls around we'll be able to do a lot more reconnoitering.
In other ride news, we just passed 2,000 likes on Facebook! Amazing! Thank you so much for all the continuing support in our endevor to raise awareness for wild horses and encourage adoption.
We planning a nice quiet Christmas at home and I'm hoping to squeeze in a holiday ride with Sage of course. From the entire Nevada Discovery Ride team -- Have a very merry Christmas!
~Samantha, Ryan, Sage & Bella
Hello! It's been awhile since I've felt like I had a proper update for everyone. For one, Ryan and I had to settle back into our lives -- but instead of settling, we dove in. First and foremost, we eloped! Even after losing the engagement ring on the trail, he still agreed to marry me. What a guy! We eloped in true Reno style, opting for a wonderfully cheesy wedding chapel with a western theme. The next morning we headed out for a relaxing honeymoon on the California coast.
I should also add that all the animals have settled back into their lives as well. Sage is doing really great... he's currently getting pretty shaggy with winter approaching. He suffered no long-term affects the ride, though he's lost a bit of that fabulous muscle he built up! Not walking 20 miles a day will do that to a horse I suppose. Bella is good too -- back to being a couch potato.
I have been busy doing talks on the ride around the region. I've found that there are things about the ride that can appeal to a wide audience, whether they are horse people or not. More than 50 people came out to my talk at the Wilbur D. May Museum! We've also spoken at private events and make appearances at some public events like the Wild Horse Preservation League's annual fundraiser - where we had a booth and met many fans. I actually have events booked well into next year. Those events are listed on the homepage of the website.
I am so excited to talk to people about the ride, about wild horses, and about the Nevada Discovery Trail so please send me an email if you'd like to book a talk. Within reason, I'm pretty much willing to talk to any group in any venue! I have hundreds of photos and lots of stories. I think it's a great way to keep a dialogue going -- not so much about my ride -- but about wild horses...
Another really exciting development is that I was invited to be an associate member of the Long Riders' Guild! The LRG is an international organization for long riders, based in London. It's members are an amazing group of horseback explorers. It is an invitation-only group, and the main requirement is that the long ride is a minimum of 1,000 miles -- that's not cumulative, that's consecutive in one ride! Imagine my utter amazement when I received an email which read:
"Your journey was 450 miles long. As you know that is not enough to
be listed as a Member of the Long Riders' Guild. However, you rode nearly 500 miles, across a challenging desert, in a dignified and ethical manner during your journey. Moreover, you undertook to alert the public to a pressing need to assist horses in need.
That is why I am writing to invite you to be listed as an Associate Member of the Long Riders' Guild. We hardly ever offer this option, as we always urge people to try and pass that elusive 1000 mile mark. But in rare cases we offer Associate Membership - on two conditions. The person has ridden at least 500 miles and they hope to make
another, longer, journey at a longer date. I think you are close enough to the former and I feel confident
you will someday achieve the latter."
Obviously I am beyond honored! More so because the Long Riders' Guild was a major inspiration for the Nevada Discovery Ride. It was 2010 when I decided to plan the NDR. That was only after visiting the LRG website and reading about their amazing riders. I felt that 1,000 miles was far beyond my abilities, but I thought I might be able to accomplish a mini-long ride. That was when I started planning my 452 mile trek!
After four months at home, Ryan and I have often found ourselves daydreaming of the trail. So what's next? Receiving the invite from the LRG energized both of us. We had initially thought of the Nevada Discovery Ride was just a one-time adventure... but it doesn't have to be. Let's go for the elusive 1,000 mile mark! With that, I am excited to announce that we are in the early planning stages of the second Nevada Discovery Ride! And we're going bigger and better -- aiming for three months on the trail and 1,500 miles! Because we love the Silver State so much and this is ground-zero for wild horses, we're planning to do the ride entirely in Nevada once again.
There's much planning to do before we can hit the trail. It took three years to plan the first ride, so I'm giving us two years to plan this next one. We've been pouring over maps looking at trails... and right now we're investigating a loop from Reno to Caliente (outside Las Vegas) to Jarbidge (N. Nevada near the Idaho border) and back to Reno. (Ryan's calling it the Nevada Horseshoe Trail!) Of course, as we discovered the first time out -- trail plans evolve. So, stay tuned as we continue to plan this next adventure. I will continue to update here and through our Facebook page. I'm really excited to continue to advocate for wild horse adoption!
Lots of administrative things to do post-ride... like announce a winner for the beautiful print from Mark Terrell and Wild Horses of Nevada Photography!!! Exactly one month after riding into Reno, Ryan and I drew for a winner today. Apologies in advance for the low-budget filming ;)
Congratulations again to Heather Nichols of Reno, Nevada and thank you to everyone who donated during the ride. With the raffle over, I've taken down the donation page on the website. The final tally for donations is $1,530 -- all of which will go the Wild Horse Preservation League to help wild horses. Curious about where those donations came from? Check out this map I whipped together:
It's amazing that we had donations come in from as far away as Louisiana and South Carolina! Receipts are going in the mail this week so keep an eye out for those.
So, what are we up to now? Making appearances around the area! Look for Sage and I at the Wild Horse and Burro Expo on August 2 & 3. We'll be riding after the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard and competing in some trail trials. Fun! And mark your calendar for our ride presentation on August 24 at the Wilbur D. May Museum. Come hear stories from the trail, see new photos, and ask questions! We look forward to seeing everyone there!