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City of Rocks National Reserve
Images by Merri Melde
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For more information, contact Ride Manager Regina Rose, rrose4u2002@yahoo.com
Day 1 & 2 Ride Photos by Merri Melde



2020 CITY OF ROCKS PIONEER ENDURANCE RIDE
It's Amost but Not Quite the 10th Anniversary!
Nine Years, 10 Events!

Talkin' Trot Podcast - Episode 10
Talkin about City of Rocks...

Photos from the weekend


Pre-Ride

Around Camp

On the Trail


City of Rocks Pioneer Ride: Endurance in the Time of Coronavirus

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

It was 10 years ago that Steph and I were driving back from the Big Horn ride in Wyoming, and we detoured through City of Rocks National Reserve in the bottom of central Idaho, and Steph said, "Wow, this place is amazing, we should put on an endurance ride here!"

Because what ride manager doesn't think nothing of (first of all) ride managing a new multi-day endurance ride and (second of all) putting on a new one that is 4 hours away from home where you have to organize and pack and load all you need for 10 days of camping in the heat/wind/rain/cold/dust and setting up ridecamp and designing and marking trails and riding them and of course doing the reverse at the end of the ride.


City of Rocks Pioneer endurance ride was held this year for the 10th time in 9 years (one year we also hosted the National Championships), and Steph passed over the ride manager reins to Regina Rose this year. Regina had the added bonus of trying to navigate post-COVID-19 lockdown state, county, local, and AERC regulations, as all horse sports had shut down for months. City of Rocks was one of the first rides to be approved to start up again by AERC, after Regina put together a Covid ride plan designed to keep riders and veterinarians and volunteers safe during the event.

And, being one of the first rides to happen again post-Covid lockdown, Regina had so many riders enter that she had to close entries and start a wait list. Since the normal ride meetings (as well as communal meals) were verboten under the new ride rules, riders who pre-entered got the added bonus of a 34-page (homework) packet that included all the ride information they'd need. (And if you didn't enjoy your reading homework, imagine what fun it was for Regina putting the Covid plan together.)(And when you asked Regina a question, her first response was, "Did you read your rider packet?") :)


Some of the new rules under the Covid-19 plan for riders included wearing face coverings, either masks or bandanas in the vet check (all vet checks were conveniently in ridecamp) or, in the case of Dave Rabe, his tank top, which he doesn't wear half the time anyway when the weather is warm. :), spacing out in the pulse down areas, spacing out in the 4 staked-out vet lanes while waiting to vet your horse, hand sanitizing stations for volunteers and vets, and for washing stethoscopes and hand-held heart monitors between each use. Riders had to pre-register online (probably the hardest part!), and they received their awards as they arrived at Ridecamp.

Any minor inconveniences riders might have had with the new Covid-19 protocols were over-ridden by the thrill of the opportunity of being back on the endurance trails. Of course the scenery at this ride, and the challenge it provides you and your horse makes up for most anything. I overheard several riders proclaiming it one of the most beautiful rides they've ever done.

It's not an easy ride: basecamp is at 5500 feet, and you'll climb to 7500 feet - sometimes on each loop. Jeff Stuart rode the 55-miler on day 2, and he told Regina, "Man, you took us up to Mt Everest!"


Day 1 had 124 starters (76 in the 50 and 48 in the LD), day 2 had 97 starters (44 in the 55 and 53 in the 30), and day 3 had 68 starters (29 in the 50 and 39 in the LD).

We had many new riders to City of Rocks, some of whom had this ride on their Bucket List, some from as far away as California. We had a number of Hall of Famers/Pard'ners Awarders - humans and a horse - join us: Joyce Sousa, Hal Hall, Dave Rabe, Naomi Preston, Suzy Hayes, Gina Hall, and Fire Mt Malabar.** I rode day 3's 50 on Hillbillie Willie, and he ogled these famous riders on the trail, and he said hi to his mentor, Uncle Mal.

Also present at the ride this year was: WIND. The whole 10 days we were there. There was so much strong wind that any coronavirus particles blew to Iowa. The wind could be described in the words of a famous family mountain climber, John Melde (yes, my older brother), "This howling wind - aw c'mon, it's just air in motion, or is it - relentless, cutting, chilling, biting, freezing, pushing, shoving, tearing, ripping, rending, swirling, roaring, wailing, maddening?" Yes, it was all of those. But the rain (and snow up higher) did hold off until Tuesday morning after the ride! And no thunderstorms this year!

We did have a rider, Kim Elkins, lose her tacked horse in the park on Day 2's LD. On the subsequent days many people volunteered to look for the horse, on horseback and on foot. A super special shout out goes to the Church family in their search efforts. The family showed up to ride the LDs, and they stayed on for days after the ride ended, to search for the horse, on horseback and foot, every day, sometimes twice a day, in wind and cold rain storms. The horse had not been found as of a week later, but there are rumors that it may have been found by someone not connected to the endurance ride. We are awaiting further word on that.

In all it was a successful return to endurance riding in the time of coronavirus, and the new Covid-19 regulations for endurance rides were simply not a big deal for riders and volunteers.

**Here's the detailed list of 'Famers!
Joyce Sousa (Hall of Fame horses LV Integrity 2015 and Jim Bob 2005, Pard'ners Award with Jim Bob 2001)
Hal Hall (Hall of Fame person 1999, Hall of Fame horse El Karbaj 1978)
Dave Rabe (Hall of Fame person 2009)
Fire Mt Malabar (Hall of Fame horse 2018, Lee Pearce and Naomi Preston)
Naomi Preston (Hall of Fame horse Mustang Lady 2001)
Suzy Hayes (Hall of Fame horse Kootenai Zizzero 2011, Pard'ners Award with Kootenai Zizzero 1997)
Gina Hall (Pard'ners Award with Fire Mt Destiny 2015)
...and I hope I did not miss anybody!


Come join us for this spectacular ride at the City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park. The park has amazing rock formations and scenery, as well as a rich pioneer history which you will experience on the trail. We will have marked Trail rides as well as 25 and 50 mile rides each day.

COVID-19 will of course affect the ride: we will have certain safety protocols and precautions that you will have to follow... see below.

In normal times thre are plenty of things to do for families and fun. Durfy Hotsprings has swimming and soaking pools for every temperature preference (be sure to bring your swim suit!). Try the Great Pizza at Rock City, and explore the trails and scenic spots. We will let you know if these places are open!

Basecamp is a large field adjacent to the City of Rocks National Preserve, elevation 5500 ft. The trail footing in this area is very good, with just a few rocky sections - it is NOT a rocky ride! City of Rocks is known for its botanical diversity - you'll see cactus, pinion pine, sagebrush, aspen and sub-alpine fire - all on one day's ride! The wildflowers should be in full bloom in June!

Day 1 will be a badland loop and a Parks loop.
Day 2 will be loop to Castle Rocks and a BLM loop.
Day 3 Badland loop and Park loop.
All vet checks will be in camp.

Camp: We'll be renting the same basecamp as in years past, large fields on both sides of the gravel road. We haul all of the water for horses to camp, you will need your own potable water.You do not need certified weed free hay in camp.
Basecamp is at 5000 feet, this is a high elevation ride!

City of Rocks Pioneer a Go: New Ride Safety Protocols to be Followed

City of Rocks Pioneer Endurance Ride in Almo, Idaho is currently on schedule for June 13, 14, and 15 in Almo, Idaho, with certain COVID-19 safety measures to be followed, per AERC rules regarding coronavirus issues.

The ride will be following the state of Idaho's re-opening restrictions and travel rules. Please be aware conditions can change any day due to the virus, and the ride can be cancelled at any time by Idaho having to shut down again if current disease cases start to go up again. In other words, the ride is a Go until it is not.

We will have certain mandatory protocols in place to protect our volunteers and veterinarians and fellow riders.

Riders *must* pre-register with ride manager Regina Rose. Please email her your entry information to rrose4u2002@yahoo.com. Not having to register at camp will prevent riders and ride manager from close contact.

Face masks or bandanas *must* be worn at vet checks, including pulse line and vet line. If you do come to vet in your horse or consult with the vets without face protection at any time, you'll be asked to go get your mask and come back to vet in or talk with it on.

You will be required to untack to vet in at the vet checks (all of which will be in camp), to minimize the contamination possibilities with our volunteers and pulsers. The pulsers will have special hand baggies for vetting each horse to protect themselves and riders and to minimize the risk of spreading germs between different horses and people.

There will be no meals or big gathering for meals. BYOF - bring your own food!

There will be portapotties in camp... but use at your own risk. We can't clean and sterilize between each customer. We recommend you come to the ride self-contained. There is a dump station on the road that leads into the park campground (you can see it from Ridecamp). And note that some or all of the park potties may be closed.

There will be no ride meetings. Protocols and all ride info (ride meeting information, vet check time, start times, trail information) will be emailed to you after you email your intent to enter the ride. You can ask questions via email or when you arrive at camp.

Please remember that you yourself may feel healthy as a horse, but you could be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19, and we want to protect our volunteers and veterinarians who will be constantly near every single person at the ride, as well as riders who may be jonesing to ride but who may have compromised conditions. Please take these COVID-19 protocols and precautions seriously at this AERC ride.

Thank you for your cooperation. Please be patient, kind, humor-ful, and please follow the rules. Times are different; we can easily adapt to these minor changes.

We look forward to seeing you at City of Rocks, and getting back on the endurance trails!

Keep checking for updates and developments at this page.

Regina Rose


Directions
From Boise take I-84 to exit 216 (Declo); go south on Idaho 77 to Conner Creek Junction, then southwest on the Elba-Almo Road.
One mile south of the visitor center in Almo, PASS BY the intrance to City of Rocks/Equestrian Campground. Instead, continue straight south onto dirt road, and you'll shortly see Ridecamp on your right - Castle View RV Park.
From Pocatello and Idaho Falls, take I-86 and I-84 to exit 216 and proceed as above.
From Salt Lake City take I-84 to exit 245 (Sublett/Malta) then head west toward Malta.
Turn left (south) onto highway 81 for .2 miles to Highway 77, then turn right (west). At Connor Creek Junction, follow directions above toward Almo.

Trails: The trails are challenging with elevations up to 7500' Day's 2 and 3, and 6700' Day 1. Footing is very good though, very little rock (except for the scenery), some gravel road, lots of single track in the mountains and jeep roads and cow trails through the BLM land.


2019 City of Rocks: Bemer Cuff, Scoot Boots and Fellow Endurance Riders Save the Day(s) at City of Rocks Pioneer Endurance Ride

June 17 2019
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

I felt something rip below my knee when I squatted down, 2 nights before the City of Rocks Pioneer endurance ride, and I'd been hoping to try and ride all 3 days on Hillbillie Willie.

Fortunately Naomi Preston saw me limping the next day. She offered me her Bemer Cuff for equines. "Bemer originated in Germany 20 years ago," Naomi said, "and delivers a patented PEMF (pulsed electro magnetic frequency) signal. It improves microcirculation and helps the body heal itself. Use it 3 times a day if you can." I did, because I really wanted to ride!

And it was either the BEMER cuff or a miracle or both, but the strain or sprain or whatever it was went away and I did not once feel it the rest of the weekend! (Naomi is a distributor of the BEMER cuff; if you want more information you can PM her.)

It was Hillbillie Willie's first attempt at finishing 3 days of a Pioneer ride at City of Rocks. His riding partner was Jackpot Jackson, with Debbie Grose aboard. The two geldings were moving along splendidly on Day 1, into the first vet check - when we discovered Jack had lost his right front shoe. With the vet check out of camp, no farrier was available, and when we hollered if anybody had an Easyboot to spare, there wasn't one.

However, Francis Lewis had a spare Scoot Boot that he offered. It happened to fit. Jack finished the ride with no problem, escorting and mentoring Hillbillie Willie through Day 1. Fellow rider Lee Pearce put a shoe and pad on Jack when we got back to camp, and Deb packed the Scoot Boot in her saddle bags for Day 2, just in case.

On Day 2's 55-miler, on the first loop we came upon 2 horses and riders on the Boise-Kelton stage trail, one of whom had lost a shoe. (Made us think of those old days where the horses and oxen lost their shoes, some of which you can still find on those old trails, if you know where to look.) Deb was able to offer Jeff and DWA Malik her new Scoot Boot - and Malik went on to finish 3rd and take Best Condition.

Wisely, at the vet check, Deb fetched the second Scoot Boot from Francis (she bought the pair), which happened to come in awful handy when, out on the second loop in one heck of a frigid wind storm blowing down off the mountain, one of Jack's hind shoes twisted. After wrangling the shoe off and the boot on (made challenging with human fingers freeing, and horses trying to keep butts to wind), Jack finished Day 2 sound and ready to continue.

Wisely, Deb packed the other spare boot in her saddle bag for Day 3. Which came in handy when, near the end of the first loop, the other of Jack's hind shoes started clinking! At the vet check, Regina got the shoe off and Deb put the second Scoot Boot on Jack's hind foot, and with the two hind Scoot Boots, he finished the third day of City of Rocks - his first 3-day pioneer ride completion.

That's one of the best parts of endurance riding - the willingness of other riders to help you get back on your horse and keep going. So, thank you Naomi Preston and BEMER, thank you Francis Lewis, thank you Scoot Boots, and thank you Lee Pearce for the shoe; all that effort got 1 rider and 3 horses through finishes at City of Rocks!


9th Annual City of Rocks Pioneer Endurance Ride: EPIC


"EPIC" is how ride manager Steph Teeter described the 9th annual City of Rocks Pioneer endurance ride in Almo, Idaho. "We had heat, Thunderstorms (hail/rain/50mph gusts), cold, snow, more wind, the most beautiful scenery imaginable. Still cheerful riders and all of the horses looked great all weekend." (One wind gust blew a porta-potty over. Nobody was inside at the time.) :)

Katrin Levermann, who journeyed 2 full days from British Columbia to get there, also called it epic. "Put it on your bucket list! This ride is epic!"

"Disneyland for horseback riders," said Bobbie Walker, who rode all 3 days aboard Dreamer. "I can’t say enough about that ride. Not only is it a beautiful ride, but there is so much to see in addition to the rocks!"

"A feast for all the senses," commented Naomi Preston, riding "Uncle Mal," Fire Mt Malabar, to a second place finish on Day 1's 50 miler.

The horses thrived on the cooler weather. "I've been vetting rides for 40 years," said veterinarian David Hayes, "and I've never seen a better group of horses. They got stronger every day." Head veterinarian Jessica Heinrick agreed, saying endurance is the only horse sport where people really take excellent care of their horses - they have to, to be able to ride long distances.

Indeed, any kind of weather can occur at any time of year in south-central Idaho; and after last year's rather warm and dry and windy event, this year felt more like July with its storms and September with the rather cold weather over the weekend. Not that I, the Ice Princess, was complaining! You just have to get lucky with the thunderstorms (we did this year! They passed around riders and Ridecamp), and if you wear or carry the proper clothing - because conditions can change drastically in 15 minutes - weather won't even be a factor.

This year's City of Rocks Pioneer was the first leg of the inaugural Idaho Ironhorse Challenge: 3 days of City of Rocks, 3 days of Top O' the World (July 26-28), 3 days at Autumn Sun (October 10-13).

Ridecamp sprawled with a boatload of horses and riders in a grassy meadow just outside City of Rocks National Reserve, at 5500 feet, with a view of Utah to the south and Castle Rocks State Park to the north.

Day 1's trails took riders to and through Castle Rocks State Park. 40 riders started the 30 miler, with 36 finishing. Two of the muleteers from Heart 2 Heart Ranch stole the show, with Junior rider Annie Edmonds finishing first on Rusty, and Trinity Jackson finishing second on Ebony. Fifth place Cat Cook took Best Condition aboard her mare Diamonds.

20 riders started the 50, with 17 finishing. David Laws and Che Ole took first place by seven minutes over Naomi Preston on Fire Mt Malabar and Lee Pearce and JAC Winterhawk. Winterhawk took Best Condition.

The memorable weather took center stage on Day 2, with trails heading out across the desert and around one Big Bad Bull by a water trough (he was flirting with lady friends so he didn't bother anybody) and over the Boise/Kelton stage route, and by an old stage stop, before heading down the California Trail into City of Rocks National Reserve park.

Most of the 25-milers finished their ride before the weather excitement and its aftermath occurred. 37 started, with 36 finishing. Simone Mauhl and Boogey finished first, just a second ahead of her husband Wade aboard Sundance. Behind Anna McNamer and Dash in third were those mules, Sophie Martin aboard Irish, Trinity Jackson aboard Hope, and Leila Fry aboard Gracie. Boogey got the Best Condition award.

All 13 started and finished the 55 miler, with David Laws winning aboard Fancy Grace, with Sara Ewing and Cal's Carisma finishing second. Third place DWA Malik, ridden by Jeff Stuart, took Best Condition.

Most of the 55 milers had the (take your pick) anguish/excitement/delight of watching a fierce cold front blow in. (I put my third coat layer on, so it was a delight for me!) We were above the clouds for a time, watching the cold layer of rain/fog shoot over a pass and into the park valley below. The winds had to be ripping along at 50 mph. But our horses just kept trotting onward. During the last miles of the ride we were pelted with hail and snow (yay!), even while the sun shined down upon us lucky endurance riders. Steph Teeter and Connie Holloway drove up into the park with extra jackets for anybody still on the trail who was frozen. We stayed warm riding, but it was the vets and volunteers and ride management in camp who froze, waiting for riders to come in!

Day 3 repeated the trails from the day before, the only difference being the Big Bad Bull was laying down right beside our trail (his lady friends were gone and he looked tired), and there was 0% chance of precipitation, though it did spit a bit of snow on us in the afternoon!


45 riders started the 25 miler, with 44 finishing. The mules took the first 5 out of 6 placings, with Parker Wynn and Irish pulsing down first. 7th place Carrie Johnson and Payback Daysea Duke got Best Condition.

18 started the 50 miler, with 16 finishing. Lee Pearce and JAC Winterhawk tied with David Laws and Che Ole for first place, with Winterhawk getting Best Condition.

The Idaho IronHorse Challenge got off to a great start, with 18 horse/rider teams in contention, having completed all 3 days on the same horse - 4 of them on the 50-mile rides, and 14 on the LD rides. The Idaho IronButt Challenge (one rider, multiple horses, any distances) has 6 riders in contention, and the Idaho IronTeam Challenge (horse & rider team, mixed distances) has 3. More on this in the next post.

City of Rocks is truly one of the most beautiful rides in the country. Next year's 10th anniversary is sure to be memorable. Put this Bucket List ride on your calendar.

***Fact check: the storms did not miss Ridecamp. Hellacious hail thunderstorms Thursday afternoon... not long after we were congratulating ourselves on such a smooth day. Saturday got pretty interesting in camp too....
- Steph

That's right! I'd been referring to that wicked lightning storm (because we all know how scared of lightning I am) I think it was Friday evening that passed just NW of us in the park, and that looked so scary that Connie and I both got scared out of our tents and took refuge in the back of horse trailers!
- Merri




Previous years, photos and stories:

2016

2015

2014

2013

2013 AERC
National Championship

2012

2011


Circle Creek High Trail Video by Merri


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