FROM: Ron Bell VP, Ride Captain, Rider
WITH THE HONOR OF RIDING YOU ALSO HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF RESPECTING THE HISTORY.
(THIS WAS TOLD TO ME BY A NEW RIDER)
Ron Bell VP
Saturday June 10th it is time to start getting the typical stuff ready to head out to join up with the crew in Eastern Nevada. I will make this drive on Sunday so to be at the Hicks Ranch to enjoy talking with all of the Schellbourne Riders led by Gene Ockert, Wendy Anderson and Tony Zamora.
Dinner was great as always, Jim and Crew from Pahrump came in and other from Henderson Nevada. Dean and Jack were also on hand to help make the gathering official. Oath taken fire going low everyone retreated to get some sleep.
Utah got the mail in faster than expected so we were a bit late getting started, Tony was up and started the mail moving to the West. The race to the Diamond was under way. Trailers are stacking out along the trail with riders waiting. As the mail moved West the weather started to go South, this meaning the cold from the North pushed the warm air South or to some other location leaving us out in the cold.
Snow and rain first then came the mud, wild horses challenged our rider up Egan Canyon, all was ok, they went on their way after a bit and the mail moved on heading west over the mountain. I have to say that this section of the Pony Express Trail is a must to see. The work it takes to move the mail along is beyond words.
At the riders start over one side of the mountains another crew is going miles around to be in place to receive the mail coming down. I got to play a major part on much of the trail, each cattle guard the fence that had to be re-attached to keep the cattle in and the rancher happy. The rides that came off the mountain leading down to the rest stop on US 93 was flying. I was following along at a nice clip of about 18 to 20 mph then she hit high gear. I was looking at 26 to 28 mph.
As we started to get closer to the end the weather started to get rather harsh, snow and the rain was making the roads if you could call them roads, turning them into solid mud. This limited access to fresh horses rather hard, we could not pass to get ahead. All trucks had to stay in the center of what road there was.
During this time I punched a hole in my left front tire, added some stop leak that slowed the air loss some. After reaching the road leading back to Eureka Nevada I got a chance to get the truck onto some grass so I could stay out of the mud while changing the tire. Two blocks of wood to support the jack the tire changed with some help.
The next problem to deal with is Tony is up the trail leading to the Diamond with horses and his truck is rather stuck, the best part of having a 4×4 truck is when you do get stuck it is a problem. Gene, Ken Head and I started a rescue mission after getting Gene’s trailer unhooked and horses in his corral.
Four wheel drive on up the hill we go, how Tony got up this hill I will never know. Tow straps, chain hooked to the trailer the mission is under way. Gene in the truck and our two trucks pulling we get the beast out onto better ground. Now can Gene make a circle to get pointed back downhill ready to load the horses and get off this little hill, yes we could still the light from Tony heading our way but still a mile or so away.
From a start at 5:00 am having coffee to 3:00 am heading to Eureka to find a place to sleep for a few hours, reaching the main road I slid into the ditch. After a few minutes I was able to get traction and got out, now the fun started. This road was solid mud about 4 to 6 inches deep, every turn or downhill section the truck wanted to slide into the ditch. Now if I went into the ditch I would not have any help until someone from our crew came along later in the day. Top speed was 10 mph at best, this went on for miles then I could see the reflectors I knew what that the paved road was in my view.
44 miles to Eureka too far had to take a nap, closed my eyes but no luck. Water bottle out and over the head, washed my face and was on the road to a room. Found some fuel first the light came on 10 miles outside of town. Yes I had taken extra fuel but used it all, next time I will take 10 gallons rather than the five. We had to back track so many times caused me to use the extra fuel. Room was found shower sleep for three hours back on the road it only cost me $118.00 for the three hours.
RIDE CAPTAIN REPORT: RON BELL
COLD SPRINGS TO SAND SPRINGS SECTION
I meet up with the radio crew in Austen all was well so some food then off to Cold Springs. Tent up crashed for three hours then stated to get ready for my section from Cold Springs to Sand Springs at Ranch Road 34 miles.
Riders started to show up as the time marched closer, I got lucky two weeks ago and was allowed to become Ride Captain for this section. So Sue my wife and I made a couple of trips over this section to see how would be the best way to set up each rider’s part. We started at Cold Springs and set short sections of 1 ½ mile to 2 ½ mile sections so we could save the horses and make a fast time.
Alina Raabe needed to be sworn in prior to the ride so I asked David Kittles to do the honors. Short safety meeting to make sure all knew we wanted everyone to come out on the other side in good health including the horses. Rider is only miles from the exchange we moved out to the staging area at Cold Springs Alina and Bell were ready, Bell is her horse. Rider in mail exchanged I walked her to the trail I told her to be safe and have fun.
When I got back into my truck and looked for her she was flying along the trail by the fence. The sun was setting shining through the mane and tail of her horse up hills and down at the same speed about 16 to 18 mph. The next rider is Amy Rasmussen a great rider running all the way to the next exchange, she also made great time. The third section was being ridden by Anne Martins and Fred Winkler, when I looked over they were flying down off a small hill with Fred in the lead then Anne came flying by and off they went.
Alina was up again dust flying mail moving West, horse and rider were enjoying the ride it is getting dark along the trail. Rene Williams is up, a new rider this year and is an inspiration to all who see her ride another fast time and having fun along the trail. Jill Andrews is up now, I asked her to take this section because it was part on the road and then without a specific trail to follow. Jill made a great ride, with a solid time and her horse still had some gas left in the tank for her second ride later.
Rachel Endel new rider just like Rene she came up beside the road using the truck lights front and back to show the way. She came thundering down the edge of the road at a solid gallop at a solid 12 mph. With the next exchange waiting Alina was waiting for her third go at the ride, no moon yet using the lights from the two trucks she punched out this section in a great time going between a trot and canter along the edge of the road.
Cassidy La Gaux was the next rider darn that horse is large with a trot at about 15 mph. Following her it looked like her horse is just jogging along but she is getting 15 mph plus at times, great rider and she will be making another ride. Rachel picked up and started West to meet up with Amy at mile marker 24 from Cold Springs. Amy was now riding on the left side of HWY 50 on a dirt road she was logging a solid time pith black with no moon yet. Amy would take the mail to another new rider Julie Rowan.
Julie yes is a new but not new to riding, as a young girl she had wanted to ride for the Pony Express but at that time only men could ride. Yes a few years later she has the mail and is galloping over the Pony Express Trail doing just what she wanted to do so many years past. Julie is handing off to Jill Andrews second ride of the night.
I asked Jill to do this section because of a couple reasons, one was I needed a solid trot from start to finish. The speed was not what I wanted this is an uphill section all the way to the top of Sand Springs Pass over 2 ½ miles. If she could keep a 8 to 10 mph the next rider could pick up the pace on the downhill side heading to Ranch Road Cattle Guard. Yes she set the trot at 10 mph and never slowed down, great ride.
Cassidy got the mail after I got a stepladder out to get the mail up on that very tall horse, could be 17 hands? I asked her dad to follow her because I had to get to the Cattle Guard and pick up a trailer and my horse to drive around to the power station so I could do my ride at around 2:00 am. Cassidy caught me before I could even get into the truck, this young lady can ride.
AS THE RIDE CAPTAIN FOR THIS AREA IS DONE, NOW I AM GOING TO BE A RIDER.
Anne Martins and Fred Winkler started to the water tank 5 miles West, Brian Bell had taken Anne’s trailer to the end of their 5 mile section so they could get back. As always they made great time. Brian started to the power station to meet me and Julie, we will take the mail up and over Simpson Pass and down to the Pipe Line road about 7 miles.
Julie and I picked up the mail and started over at a trot then gallop, as we reached the tip of the pass Julie said can you smell that, I said yes I do need a bath. No, “smell the sage”. I had wanted her to take this ride with me so she could get the feel of the trail in the middle of the night. “This was a bucket list moment for her”. We then handed off to Rex and received a great greeting from Rene and Rachel they had hauled Rex’s horse and him to the location because his truck had a problem. Rex headed West with a jeep following, I don’t know how fast he was going but when he reached Wild Cat Station they were not in sight. Rex then rode on to Schurz Highway or Top Gun and the mail moved forward heading west.
I want to say that I was never more tired during this Re-Ride but with that I need to say. This was the most fun I have ever had being part of the Pony Express. The riders that rode with and for me during this ride are the best of the best.
This is my view and I will stand by it.
Ron Bell VP, Ride Captain, Rider