Our rest day in Preston was much needed. I got a shower and to sleep in a real bed! Sage and Bella also got to rest. I was feeling pretty sore so I can only imagine how they were feeling. Ryan and I did laundry and made a quick trip to Ely to resupply and also to Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park to pick up more horse feed. So a busy day, but a good one!
We are eager to get back on the trail though. Tomorrow we will cross the valley and head up into the White Pine Range, which is beautiful! We have six days of riding ahead of us before we get another two rest days.
Also, if you are not able to see our Facebook updates - Ryan proposed on the trail yesterday! I said yes of course! Quite a nice surprise :)
Hello everyone! It's been an amazing five days and 100 miles so far. Thank you for all your support and donations. The adventure is underway and is already more than we imagined. Everyday is truly different, with its own highs and lows, struggles and triumphs. The scenery is amazing and we have already seen so much different terrain. Everything is tough in its own way - hot valleys, rocky and steep mountain passes, and unpredictable weather. We have seen deer, antelope, elk, jackrabbits, lots of lizards, cows, and one rattlesnake so far!
Interestingly, the hardest parts are civilization. It's very stressful riding on roads with semis going by at 70 miles an hour. I've also spent a lot of time walking to give Sage a break. I have some blisters, but we are getting into shape. Sage is just a powerhouse and he's really been amazing, especially since we are asking a lot of him. But nothing has really fazed him yet, except for the hundreds of cows we had to ride through! Bella is doing well too, but has already had to take some breaks with Ryan in the road crew truck.
Ryan is taking great care of us, keeping us well-watered and well-fed! We've had great campsites along the way, and Ryan makes sure that when I ride into camp at the end of the day everything is already set up for me. So all I have to do each day is ride...
Anyway, we are enjoying our much needed rest day in Preston, before we head out again. More challenges await I am sure, but we will keep powering through one range and valley at a time. It gives me amazing perspective and respect for the many settlers of Nevada who came before us.
Not sure when we'll have coverage again for updates once we get into the White Pine Range but I'll try to get something out. Thanks again everyone! We will see you on the otherside!
Early tomorrow morning we will load Sage into the trailer and drive six hours across Nevada to Ely, which is near the Utah border. He'll have a few days to decompress from the drive and we'll have a few days to finish any last minute preparations. And then come Saturday... we ride! After three long years of planning and dreaming this project is finally about to begin. I'm surprised to find that I don't feel scared or nervous -- I feel ready.
I have great gear, a great support crew, great sponsors, and most importantly a great horse. Everything is packed -- including clothes, food, extra tack, camping gear, and medical supplies. I finished my last day at work. Sage got a final hoof check and trim. My wonderful mother flew all the way from Pennsylvania to house and pet sit for the month. All that's left now is just to ride!
I am so excited to have such wonderful supporters and I hope everyone will stick with us through this great adventure. We are in a great position to get people talking about wild horses. Yesterday I was invited to speak to at the Air National Guard base in Reno to the junior enlisted. Though most in attendance were local, they did not know much about wild horses. I was very happy to fill them in and share with them my adoption story. They seemed very interested in the ride and I hope they'll follow along too! Not to count our chickens before they hatch, but we're already lining up some post-ride talks around Nevada. I'm really looking forward to sharing this ride with as many people as possible. If even one person goes out and adopts a mustang then it will all be worth it.
So, I'll check in with you before we ride out on Saturday and after that our updates will be spotty (intermittent internet service) but I promise to update as often as I can! Keep spreading the word, and thank you to all who have donated to our cause so far. I leave you with a few photos from a wonderful new local photographer (Patricia Gonzales of Tru Heart Photography) of Sage and I playing this weekend.
The trail beckons!
Less than two weeks to go before we hit the trail... but the preparations never stop! We just returned from a two-day drive across the state and back to drop off all our horse feed. Nevada State Parks generously offered to store our feed at the parks along our route so we visited Fort Churchill, Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, and Ward Charcoal Ovens. All the rangers were very enthusiastic about the ride and we look forward to riding through soon!
After the feed was delivered we went off-road to scout some final sections of our route. Starting at the Ward Charcoal Ovens, we went up and over the Egan Range, White Pine Range, and Pancake Range, and all the valleys between them. Seeing our trail made me even more excited to get back out there on horseback. It is truly as back country as you can get. We saw only a few antelope, but a ton of wild horses! They were really, really wild -- not like our neighborhood horses in South Reno. These horses were like ghosts... you'd just see a flash of color on the hillside as they galloped away when they heard the truck. We did manage to see a few up close including a couple babies. One brave stallion defied the truck and stood us down until his herd was safely away. Ironically, of all the trail dangers it's the wild horses that scare me the most. They can be notoriously territorial and won't take kindly to Sage and I crossing through their land. We have been charged by a wild stallion once before on the trail and it is not something I look forward to happening again. Must be brave though!
We learned a lot scouting the trails though. We found some great camping spots and made note of where watering holes and springs are (and are not). We also found spots where we'll have phone/internet service so I will be able to update you from the trail. And in the tiny town of Preston, Nevada we found a kindly rancher who instantly agreed to put Sage up for the night in his corral so that I can go to the local motel and take a shower. It's nice to know that there are still people out there willing to help their fellow man -- we just have to ask for help!
It struck me as we were driving home that in some ways we are reinventing the wheel. Prior to the automobile, people spent years creating horse and wagon trails across this treacherous terrain of Nevada. It involved scouting and researching routes and watering holes, clearing trails, and creating infrastructure to support travelers. After all that work, it just disappeared... and here were are starting all over with those things so that we can ride across the state! I really hope that this trail we have rediscovered becomes THE equestrian route across the state. I hope that we inspire a new breed of back country riders who want to get off the beaten path and see a whole different side Nevada!
We just returned from four long days of riding and camping. The days were great for training, but they also turned out to be a little dramatic!
Sage, Bella, and I headed out to Fort Churchill State Park on Friday with some other horsey friends, and spent three days riding around the park. The main trail that goes through the park is the famous Pony Express Trail! We're already seeing 80+ degree days so riding all day was pretty tiring. Sunscreen was a must, and of course, lots and lots of water. Luckily we got to do many water crossings which was great for the horses and the dogs. Sage and I also got to try out some new gear, including a fly mask that you can put over your bridle so you can ride with it. This turned out to be a much needed, since Fort Churchill is notorious for its bugs. On the third day we explored old overgrown trails along the Carson River, and even walked a short distance along some railroad tracks. Luckily, no train came by. I don't think I'm ready to try desensitizing Sage to them! We packed up Sunday night and headed back home for a night before heading out again the next day. It was a fantastic trip - with great trails and great riding partners. After three days Sage and Bella were pretty tired, but they both kept up the pace well so I'm feeling pretty good about their conditioning levels.
When we got home I found a massive fire ant nest right next to my trailer. I tried to straddle it so I could put away gear, but alas - I was attacked! I sustained several bites on my leg. Having never experienced the bite of the fire ant, I now understand why they have that name. Several minutes after the fire ant attack, a very large bull snake (gopher snake) slithered underneath my trailer. Have you ever tried to shoo a snake away? It's not easy! After a quick rest the snake moved on... but that wasn't the last of our snake encounters!
On Monday, Sage and I trailered out to Dayton State Park for a more formal test ride. I let Bella sit this one out since her paws were a little sore from the past few days of hard riding. Otherwise this was an "all hands on deck" ride, so we arrived at the park with all four road crew members, representatives from Nevada State Parks, and a film crew from KNPB, the local PBS station. Nevada State Parks generously presented us with four beautiful bales of Nevada-grown alfalfa for the ride! KNPB came to shoot for a special that will air after the ride. After interviews and tacking up, we rode out of the park and headed for the town of Dayton. When we turned the corner to pass the Dayton Historical Society we were met by quite a crowd! The Wild Horse Preservation League had whipped up several Dayton residents and ride supporters to come cheer us on. A videographer from the local CBS affiliate also came out to shoot interviews and scenes on the trail. I'm not sure when that airs, but I will post a link as soon as it does! After a short break for water, photos, and conversation we rode up the mountain to Gold Hill.
The first half of the trail was wide open desert with no trees so it was very hot. We also gained quite a bit of elevation -- 1,447 feet to be exact! Luckily, when we got up to Silver City we were able to cross over into a mountain canyon that offered a lot of trees and streams. About halfway up the canyon, I spotted a flipped over car on a trail above me. I stopped to assess, and could see where it had come over mountain further up. It looked like it had rolled before landing upside down. Being a pretty good distance from top to bottom the car was pretty smashed, but it looked recent. I thought about getting closer to inspect it, but decided to ride on and tell my road crew since I was only a couple miles from camp in Gold Hill. When I got there I told everyone about the car and we decided to report it to the Sheriff's Office. That brought out about six sheriff's cars with lights flashing to come out to talk to us! We spent almost two hours going over maps while I tried to explain to them where I had seen it. They tried to drive around the area to search, but ended up coming back to camp again for more directions! I finally convinced them that they would have to hike it, and by dusk they finally left to go look again. I was on the phone with them several times yesterday to give even more directions, because apparently they are having trouble finding it!
Needless to say it was a very unexpected end to to a long ride! Trail-wise, Sage did great. The ground was super rocky so now I know this is a section where boots are a must. I am positive that the few small streams we found along the way will be dried up when we come through in June. Again, we are reminded of the importance of carrying enough water. And I had to cross a very busy active mine road, which was not pleasant, so I am looking at a short alternate route for that section. (While we were riding through the mine area we almost stepped on another very large gopher snake sunning on the side of the trail. I just about jumped out of the saddle, but Sage walked on with just a quick glance at it!)
Now 23 days out from the ride, we've got a few busy weeks ahead of us. This weekend we are going to pick up the rest of our feed from our local sponsor Menezes Brothers, Inc. Then we will spend a couple days driving across Nevada and back to distribute the feed to several state parks who are helping us store supplies. Of course we'll also keep riding as much as possible, since that's all we can do at this point to stay in shape and get ready for the hard trail. We're also excited to have a new sponsor for boots -- Easy Care, Inc. makers of the famous Easy Boots!
Donations have been coming in steadily since we opened the link, and I want to sincerely thank every single person who has supported us so far. Don't forget, 100% of the proceeds from this ride will go to the Wild Horse Preservation League of Dayton, Nevada. Whether it's $5 or $50 - every bit will help wild horses. If you want a chance at something more for your money, we're grateful to have a beautiful print from famed wild horse photographer Mark Terrell up for raffle. Valued at $400, it will look great in any home. Get your tickets on our donation page!
The latest updates from Samantha on the Nevada Discovery Ride.