Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Big Horn Adventure! 2010
It was quite the drama.Many were lost, wet, cold and bedraggled on weary horses. Miraculously, no once was hurt and all ended well.I had to spend the night between my saddle and saddle rug in a sage bush while most of the other lost riders somehow fumbled their way through the darkness on an unmarked section of trail. We all suffered but experienced nothing like what Cindy Collins went through. As a result of vertigo she started vomiting as soon as darkness fell. This went on for hours until she became so weak she could no longer stay on her horse. Walt and I got her down and stayed with her while the others continued on in hope of somehow finding their way down. It would have been senseless for everyone to stay. Cindy was lying on the trail shivering uncontrollably. We covered her with my driz-a -bone coat and set our brains to work juggling the options. Walt tried to make a fire to mark where she was so we might be able to leave her and go for help but everything we could find to burn was wet. Cindy was far too sick to get back on a horse so eventually Walt, a diabetic and at risk of getting ill himself prompt her up and walk her out while I tried to find my way down ponying Jack, Cindy's horse. I got off trail more than once until finally deciding to follow a fence line quietly sneaking around giant sleeping bulls back to a gate where there was one flashing light. This is where I made myself into a saddle and saddle blanket sandwich and waited it out until enough light would help me to find my way out. A few miles down i did find some Big Horn flags and managed to follow them out with only one hitch. There were three flags which turned me up to someone's campsite!?? I didn't wake them up. I find it hard to explain why I would choose maybe being lost in the vast wilderness over simple embarrassment. I knew I'd find my way out now it was light and I'd spotted at least a few flags. Wow! Up and over the mountain way up in the sky looking over that vast panorama took my breathe away. The road felt to me like just a ledge but off course it was much wider. I dismounted and walked both horses down to carefully negotiate the next danger:Slick rock! Yep this is what they were talking about. Nasty stuff! The horses were slipping and sliding on the big slabs of it while i was rollerskating on the loose rocks around them.I was on my bum a few times too many. Just as well it was numb from so many hours in the saddle. Naturally, my crew Chris Compton was relieved to see me ( an understatement of course) as were Dr Haeberle and Callie Bermann. Chris wouldn't let me ride the rest of the way in.She didn't want to let me out of her site.Tim French was there also helping everyone as usual.These people are THE BEST! They were there for us, lots of tired people and muddy vehicles as testament to a long and anxious night. Jeanette had her own set of terrible mishaps to report and coupled with the difficult weather and terrain conditions found it impossible to get the trail marked out there. There are a lot of angry people as a result of this ordeal. I know those who were on the rescue end, the friends and families left not knowing what condition we and our horses were in would have been sick with worry and very upset. There may even be a protest I suspect. For myself I do not want to spend the energy in that direction. I do know that we all need to think seriously about all this and offer help to the Tolman's to ensure we have better emergency operations in place to ensure this doesn't happen again. (Yes i know it's happened before) My plea is to Jeanette to graciously accept the help I know is going to be offered. Its an incredibly spectacular ride but this debacle surely will hurt its future attendance.We all need to put our heads together and figure something else.
I'm so relieved to know Cindy is home safe and we can thank Walt for that. People like him those angels at the bottom of the mountain is what it's all about.