FROM: Carol Hunt, Schellbourne Re-riders
June 23rd, 2016 PST

Carol Hunt riding her Missouri Fox Trotter, Eagle.Photo by Harry FrankeThe weather wasn’t too friendly here in C/E Nevada for us to get on our “ponies” and get them conditioned, but finally a few days with no rain, the wind died down, and we brushed the dust off the horses and saddled up and we were off and running. My granddaughter, Nicole, a new horse owner of just a couple of months, but with a couple of years of riding experience and a love for horses (what teen girl doesn’t love horses?) wanted to ride “the Pony.” Daughter, Karen, and Nicole came up a few days before the XP so we could get in some last minute conditioning and for them to escape the So. Nevada heat. We enjoyed lots of riding. A friend of Nicole’s from Henderson, “Walking Tall” Louis Hall, had joined the Pony Express, and has really been excited to do it, and now it was here! Louis brought two horses, an Arabian and a Paso Fino. Louis knows the Paso owners from Pahrump that have ridden with us for two years, and he was ready to see what all the fun was about. We went to McDonald’s to meet riders from around the state who would convoy out to Huntington, at the foot of The Diamond’s, the mountain range dividing White Pine and Eureka Counties. We greeted old and new friends, then Gene Ockert, ride captain, arrived, and away the entourage went to the base camp. I and my “group” went home to finish loading the truck and trailer, then we set out to join the XP riders for dinner. It was quite a distance to go for dinner, but the idea was to see the country, and know what was in store for our part of the ride. We got to camp in time for dinner, and reunited with friends and swapped a few stories before we left for home, and our beds! We would meet them with fresh horses the next morning. Geno told us to be at Schellbourne about 8 a.m. because “he thought the mail would be early.” So, who gets any sleep when you’re excited about riding the Pony? I guess we got a little shut eye, then up way too early, fed horses, and got ready to head out. We passed Joyce Christensen on the highway. She was hauling up water, and lunch, and gas/fuel as there just aren’t any convenience stations along the 144 mile trail, plus other added miles. We got to Schellbourne, and enjoyed the facilities, and the Kiosk which tells about the Pony Express. We also learned that the mail was four hours late. (Groan. What was that about sleep?) Oh, well. We stalled around for awhile, Karen and Nicole, and Eva Jensen, who would be riding for her fifth time. We went to our exchange post, unloaded the horses, and set about to relax. We went on a little limbering up ride. We sat and chatted. We watched a cattle drive come up from Schellbourne, passing not too far from us, and go right up Egan Canyon. We wondered if they would cause a problem for any rider. National President Lyle Ladner and First VP Dean Atken showed up. We visited. We all were wondering where the pony rider might be. Nicole rode. It was 75 degrees, and a strong wind, but it was pleasant. And we waited. We did another little “limbering up” ride. We saw a couple of deer cross the road. Maybe here is a good time to tell you about Eva. She is an archaeologist with Great Basin Park. November of 2014 she and her crew were checking out where a project was intended. She happened onto a little grove of trees and brush, and there propped up against a tree was an old, weathered rifle. It turned out to be an 1873 Winchester, which obviously had endured a few decades in the shelter of the trees from the snow and rain of the 8,000′ elevation. Eva’s group “rescued” the rifle. She took it to Cody, Wyo, to have it stabilized. The rifle story exploded on the internet, and on Face Book. Reno and Las Vegas newspapers told the story of the rifle. The London Telegraph called Eva and interviewed her, as well as Hong Kong and Seoul, Korea. The humble little Winchester had gained a following of gun buffs, history enthusiasts, and just people who wondered why the rifle was left there, who could have left it, why? Was anyone harmed so couldn’t go back for the rifle? The Winchester is now enclosed in a glass case, complete with a little brush to remind viewers of where it had been found. Then, Winchester invited the “rifle” to the Shot Show in Las Vegas this past February. Eva got to “escort” the rifle. Then the Winchester and Eva were invited to the NRA convention in Louisville, KY, last month. How fun it has been for her. Makes me want to go “prospecting” for a gun, or gold, or whatever!Finally, almost seven hours in to our wait, we saw Gene and Louis’s rigs turning up Egan Canyon. Finally action! After a while here comes Louis, galloping in like the Pony riders of old. The mochila was put on Eva’s big paint mare, and away we went for a four mile stretch. Nicole’s wonderful paint horse matched strides with Eva’s horse, and they ate up the trail, finally passing off. There was six more miles into Schellbourne. We passed other riders waiting for their turns. We got in to Schellbourne, and riders and crews got there and got a break and some lunch. We were assigned to go to the top of Schellbourne Pass, and take a downhill stretch of trail. Nicole rode Louis’s Arab, and away they went. Then I let Nicole ride my Missouri Fox Trotter. This 13 year old girl was having the time of her life. Louis and Nicole hitched a ride to Rock Springs, the tallest part of the entire 1,966 miles of the Pony Express, almost 8.000 feet. They were to take the mochila up the “hardest part” of the hill, and no one seemed excited about doing it, so with his well conditioned horses, the two adventurers did the job. I think they passed on to Wendy Andersen and Candy Zamora, from Colorado. Eva and I drove on around and followed the truck route that bypasses Rock Springs. We got to Tippets and waited. And snacked. And fed and watered horses, and waited. Finally Tony Zamora came and headed up the back side of Rock Springs to pick up riders. After some time other rigs showed up. Here came the mochila, and the mochila was passed to Doc Christensen, our “eldest” wiry young “orphan” on his 36th or so time riding the re-ride. He passed to Eva and I for our two miles. It was now dark, and riders scampered to get in line, and head the final 17 miles into the National Pony Express monument at Ibapah, Utah. We had cut off an hour and 20 minutes of the deficit. I knew those hardy Utah riders would close that gap. We got into Ibapah, and saw several rigs waiting to take the mail and continue east. The Schellbourne Re-riders headed for camp, where a very late night dinner was just starting to be prepared. I saw beautiful steaks on the grill, but we didn’t want to wait 45 minutes before dinner would be ready, so we headed for “home.” This is our part of the story. I hope some one writes about the first half. I heard there were some pretty exciting events happened. I look forward to the riders’ reports. So go get on it. God Bless all of you for your efforts in making a success of the 156th re-ride. Oh, did I mention the National Park Service administrates the historic trails, including the Pony Express trail? Eva was quite a handy person to have along! This was my eighth year. Don’t know how long I can be a “young, wiry orphan!”