Thursday I headed over to the Oakland airport and flew out for Seattle. I didn't want to check a bag, so I just crammed some stuff in a messenger bag and planned to borrow whatever else I needed. An adventure!
I theoretically rented an SUV, but it was just a jacked-up station wagon. Oh well. Since I wasn't towing anything, I could take the scenic route to the ride. I picked up 410 and drove into the mountains
Weather in the western half of North America is really simple, compared to weather in the mid-south. Everything comes from the Pacific, hits a range of mountains somewhere, and dumps a ton of rain or snow. The eastern side of the mountains is always more arid, and the weather systems keep moving and gathering up more moisture to dump on the next range of mountains. Renegade is held just outside of Naches, WA, on the eastern side of the Cascades, but it's still pretty wet, as you will see.
I headed back to camp to ride a horse. I still had some time to kill so I took a nap face-down in the backseat of the little station wagon I'd rented. Aarene was appalled that I was sleeping in the heat, but it's sort of familiar and comforting to me. I've lived in so many situations where I didn't have air conditioning, or where I didn't want to turn on the horrid noisy window unit, and when you're hot as hell there's not much to do but nap. I had really vivid and weird dreams about the ride meeting (which made the real ride meeting a couple hours later kind of surreal).
I don't know how hard I should try to protect people's privacy, so I will default to initials. Most of my interactions were with Aarene's Usual Suspects, so if you read her blog you know them already! Anyway, S had been tasked with making sure one of the loops was properly marked, so she was headed out on one of the RM's horses to re-ribbon the trail, and I got to go with her on another of the horses. S got the big hot Arab and I got the Spotted Couch - a black and white paint built like a sofa. She tried to bite me when I went to get on, so I went all Al Pacino cussing on her and after that we got along great. (I love mares.)
Sadly, we only made it out a mile or so before we had to turn around. The Spotted Couch had managed to truss herself up on her high-line earlier that week and she had some rope burn on her back leg, and we knew she was iffy. We climbed for maybe half a mile, and at the first little downhill stretch she took two really bad steps in a row and I hopped off. I checked her feet, but she didn't have a rock in her shoe, so we were done. S hopped off too and we jogged them back to camp.
S saddled up her beautiful Ariana and headed out to check the trail and I helped pack the Usual Suspect gear bags. Only three of them were riding: S on Ariana, D on Hana, and M on a friend's Arab. They were all in the 25, as was C on Farah.
Aarene wasn't riding due to a chronic hip thing being very unhappy, but she popped me up on Fiddle and let me check out one of the loops. That was probably the highlight of my trip - Fiddle is awesome! She's like Dixie, except even more wicked at heart, and I got along great with her.
When I was up, she took off at a trot to see if perhaps I was faint of heart. I said yeehah, more! and she dropped to a walk. I asked her to trot again and she thrashed her head and kicked with her back legs, so I asked her to walk a few strides then asked for a trot again. Same thing, so we walked another few steps and I asked again. She thrashed her head and said ugh, fine, you win and away we went. I didn't ask for anything close to the Big Trot, just a slow jog for Fee, but it was super fun. We went up and down a switchbacked gravel road, then Aarene pointed me onto a blue trail that went the long way back to camp and I ambled on in. Fiddle tried to convince me that a stump would eat her, and she tried really hard to convince me we should cut off the trail and go straight to camp, but I paid her no mind and she did great.
Saturday, I slept through the start for the 50s (and the one 75) cause I was on vacation, dammit. But I did get up and take some pics of the LD start, which went quite smoothly. People knew where they wanted to be and started appropriately - a few exactly on time, a group a few minutes later, and the rest of the field trickled out over the next ten minutes or so.
Evensong's ranch, so I took a windy canyon road along the Yakima River.
Ellensburg is a wonderful little town. In the South, most of the small towns are either slowly dying or exploding in unsustainable bedroom-community growth, so it's always really heartwarming for me to see a small town that's clicking along happily. Their downtown was mostly occupied with a nice mix of businesses.
Ellensburg grows stuff, mostly hay but some rotational crops too. It's a big valley, only a couple thousand feet of elevation. It looks, to me, like Fallon would look if Nevada got more rain. Everything's irrigated and green, and the low hills around the valley are dry sage and cheatgrass. I immediately wanted to borrow a horse and ride to the top of one of the hills, but I was almost out of time. (I know, you're like will this post ever end? Yes, it's almost over!)
And then, finally, it was time to drive back to Seattle and fly home. Look, mountains! The Snoqualmie Pass is pretty low, only 3k feet, but it's got some pretty views.
I got a cab home (life is more interesting with BART on strike) and settled in on my balcony with a well-deserved beer.