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2011 Grand Canyon XP – Photos & Ride Report

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Karen and Bo, Grand Canyon XP 2011. Photo by Steve Bradley.

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Karen and Bo, Grand Canyon XP 2011. Photo by Steve Bradley.

I’ve been trying to get these photos posted for the last couple of weeks!  The first two at the top were taken by Steve Bradley.

You can see we had a really gorgeous ride this year.  The fall colors were spectacular and as an added bonus we even got to ride through snow on a couple of the days.

This was a really special ride for me.  This was the first time I’ve ridden Pro Bono every day on a 5 day pioneer ride!  He’s done plenty of 2, 3, and even 4 days at various rides and was fantastic this summer on the long XP.  Yet, till now he had not ever completed all 5 days by himself.

The ride was a great test this year, more for me than it was for the horse.  The altitude in camp (over 8,000′) combined with the weather made for quite a challenge.  It started out raining then turned to snow and sub freezing temperatures.

That caused things to not work.  I can’t even begin to mention all of the things that stopped working.   When things get wet first, then freeze that is REALLY hard on things – both mechanical and HUMAN.

Here are a few of the more important things that quit working (or tried to):

  1. Furnace/heat
  2. Refrigerator
  3. Outdoor lights
  4. Door latches
  5. Clips and snaps on horse ropes, blankets, etc.
  6. Water – all outside plumbing and hoses frozen solid
  7. Generator ran out of gas (contributing to the furnace and lights not working)
  8. Awning broke
  9. ME!

I managed to get through it.  The first day after the hard freeze I couldn’t get my tack room door open.  I poured warm water over the latch.  I learned to bring my horse’s water and mash inside at night — which worked great till the furnace gave it up, though it still stayed a balmy 34 degrees inside the trailer which was much better than the 12 degrees outside!

On the plus side, at least my shower was still working – I had hot water and a water pump.  I could also boil water on the stove, so could make hot stuff to drink.

Grand Canyon XP Karen Chaton 54 300x225 2011 Grand Canyon XP   Photos & Ride ReportMany of us at the ride were experiencing the same problems.  I’m going to be writing an article for Trail Blazer on how to manage yourself and your horse (and everything involved with that) and share some of the things I did, learned or had already been prepared for in order to help get through a week of riding 250 miles and camping in extreme conditions.

Bo was such a trooper.  I am becoming so very impressed with this horse.  He has come along so well in the last year.  He never gave me a single thing to worry about all week long, either in camp or on the trail.  He ate and drank well both in camp and during the ride each day.  He moved around enough on his high-line every night that he never got stiff and was fairly neat keeping his manure spread out far away from where he’d step into it.  That was important since it was frozen solid and no chance of moving it till things thawed out!

The best part I think was that Bo just went down the trail every day with a smile on his face!  Me too, what a joy to be able to ride 5 days in a row on a horse that takes care of you.  It was such a relief after what happened to me just getting to the ride.

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What was left of my rims....ouch!!

Yeah, the trip down was less than stellar.  I was doing pretty well until I got within about 10 to 20 miles from camp. I’d driven down by myself, a 640 mile trip.  About the time I got off of the pavement and had the last few miles to go to camp, it started to rain and got dark.  Well, turns out that along that dirt road I blew out two tires on one side of my trailer.  The tires quickly became shredded.  I didn’t feel a thing in the truck.  I slowed way down when I hit the washboards on the rough dirt road.   From what I could see of the trailer behind me in the dark and rain, everything looked good.  I did start to feel something and pulled over and was totally shocked to see what had happened.  @#$%!!!!  The rims barely had any tire left and what was there was shredded.  The rims were bent up and things were smoking.  The wires from what was left of the tires damaged the brakes and all of the wiring.  Ughhhhhhh.

Grand Canyon XP Karen Chaton 31 300x225 2011 Grand Canyon XP   Photos & Ride Report

Bo is an optomist, and loves the trail no matter what the weather does!

I quickly got Bo out of the trailer.  Being thankful that I had only one horse with me.  He seemed calm, and everything in the trailer was in it’s normal place.  I hoped that he hadn’t been bounced around too much back there!  I got Bo set up with food and water after walking him around for a couple of minutes to pee.  Then I disconnected my truck from the trailer and turned on all of my outside lights so that nobody would run into Bo in the dark and headed to camp.

Dave Rabe, Dwight and Annie came to my rescue – between the four of us we got the trailer jacked up and my two spares put on, and put air into a 3rd tire that was losing air.  This was the first time I’ve ever needed both spares at the same time and boy was I glad that I had them!  Then we got the truck hooked back up in the dark, which wasn’t much fun simply because I was so tired and the back of the truck was full of hay blocking the view.

When we first got back to my trailer with two trucks and the jeep, Bo stood there blinded with all four legs spread out and I thought on @#$% I hope he isn’t injured or sore or something really wrong with him!  It turned out that he just didn’t really appreciate all of the high-beams from our vehicles pointed at him in order to work on the trailer!

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Grand Canyon XP, Day 5. Photo by Steve Bradley. Karen and Bo on the Rainbow Rim Trail.

Bo went right back into the trailer and I drove the rest of the way into camp and got set up in the dark.  It was a long day and I was just happy to be there.  Stranded for sure, but happy to at least have good company in camp and most grateful that Bo was okay.

Everything in my trailer was in place – all the tack, cupboards, horse feed, etc. so I don’t think that Bo was shaken up that badly.  However, he must have had quite the experience as it had to have been noisy.  I had the radio on rocking out so didn’t hear anything.

So yeah, ride good.  Trip there not so good.  I can’t even begin to say how much I appreciate Bo for helping make the rest of the week turn out to be so great.  Also, to all of my friends who helped pick up the pieces and put me and my rig back together again – all of the Nicholsons (Dave, Annie and Dwight), Dave Rabe, Joseph Johnson and Chris Herron.  Love you guys!!

Here are my photos from all five days of the ride.  Enjoy!  Next year we’ll see you there on Labor Day week as this ride will now take place on the dates that the Bryce XP previously had.

Slideshow:
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