FROM: Ron Bell, President Nevada Division
Steve Neilson picked me up at 7:00 am on Sunday June 21, 2015 to start our adventure at Ibapah, to pick up the mail from Utah. After a nice drive we arrived kind of in Ibapah found the trail marker but no people or horses. Steve and I drove around a bit to check out the hot spots in town, well we found slim pickings. The next move was to backtrack to check ranches with trailers, horses and people. I remember a statement that the ranch was about 2 miles out of town. We found at about the 10 mile mark a ranch with a trailer, horses and people, so we eased in and found out that we had made it to the meeting place.
We started to visit with our new found friends and another trailer pulled in, followed by a bunch of other trailers. Now we had people, trailers, horses, and people all over the place. Wendy, Tony and Geno came in and started to pull out the Dutch ovens and had a fire going. Stuff like lamb, ham, ribs were added to the pot and set over the fire, another dutch oven was put on the next fire with beans. I should say that not only beans but Tony’s special beans, low gas brand. We pulled a big old table over and Wendy and crew started hauling out salads and bread. What a layout and we were invited to eat.
A few went to catch a bit of shut eye. About eleven we all started out to meet the mail, the exchange was going to happen at the monument. Well, we thought it was the one down the trail. Steve and I waited for about an hour, then as before we backtracked to find out the monument was on the road. Cars, trucks, trailers and people all over the place, rider in Mochila exchanged, Tony climbs aboard his horse and he is a giant. Spurs engaged into the night Tony hits the trail, we run out a few miles and get ready for the next exchange. Horses out Mochila loaded on one and the other bolted as the rider was getting on, horse one way rider the other. Now we have a horse running loose in the night, we could not find it so we went after the mail and would find the horse later. The next day the horse was found and taken to a Hicks Ranch for safe keeping and will be picked up later.
At this Steve or I never had any idea of just what this group of riders has to deal with when it comes to getting over the many mountain ranges, just to move the mail forward. The riders from Pahrump Nevada started to unload a horse. My first thought was how that horse is going to be able to get any place. Mail on horse moving forward and forward it did move. That Pasofino was jamming down the road. Changing from the Paso gate to a canter another two miles down the road, the next rider is waiting. This is how it kept on for 144 miles. When one trailer finished using their horses doing two miles. Another trailer pulled up and was waiting for the mail, down the trail we went trailer after trailer. Some places the trailers were pushing over sage brush because it was just a trail. Over some of the mountain passes the trailer would be pulled around to meet on the other side. The trail over the top would be five miles but the support team had to drive forty miles or so to get back together. At points like this another group had been sent around by another road to meet and exchange the mail, always moving forward.
On some of the mountain tops the wild horses would challenge the riders; a couple times they almost had to fire into the ground to move the stallions back so they could get on down the trail. This point came up about knowing the trail. Many of the trails are crisscrossed by the mustang’s trails. Our Pony Express trail could not be found. This is why we need the experienced riders who have been over that section for many years and two riders go over together so a new person can learn from one who knows the trail. This point came up later because when we were delivering the mail to Overland Pass our rider missed the trail and came down to the road with a tired horse and totally beat rider. Wendy and Tony picked him up and got him back to his crew so they could get home to go to work in the morning. This was about two or three in the morning.
At one time I was in the back of the pack of trailers heading into a bad section of the road. As I looked forward I could see inside a pickup bed and the underside of the horse trailer. Try this some time. The ditch was deep and I was trying to figure out how they could ever get up the next bank. Well the truck started to move slowly up the bank and the trailer was into the wash. When I got out taking a look what I found was the dirt work Genoa had finished only a week prior had been washed out all over again. With no time to make repairs they just dragged the equipment out of the ditch and moved on to the next problem.
Let’s take a little look at this adventure: one lost horse, one horse that tried to unload from the front window yes out of the race, and one other horse was injured somehow and was out of the Re-Ride. One trailer had an axel spring break; well chain it up and move forward. That is not covering the flat tires. Well not just flat but shredded beyond repair. When we started the trailers all had two tires hanging on the racks on each side of the trailers, by the end of the 144 miles the tires were all flat hanging on the side of each trailer.
Most of all of us who ride west of the Ruby Mountains have a different level of commitment when it comes to the Re-Ride. We pull over fair roads to main highways, yes we spend some gas and need to fix a flat sometimes but most every rider and horse needs to travel the major part of these 144 miles over a trail if you could call it that. My hat is off to this group of dedicated riders; their last word was they felt bad that they could not make up any of the time when they received the mail about an one and one half hours late from Utah. In Utah they had major winds and problems of their own and I think they also received the mail a little late. When you see riders with caked dust horses sweating how anyone can say anything but great job, I think Utah made up two hours.
The handoff at Overland pass was made and the mail started down heading west, we could not find out the location from anyone. Steve and I headed to Dry Creek to check on the next ride team and the radio crew, they had no word either so we got an hour sleep and drove back up to Robertson Creek and the mail had just went past. Somehow the rider or the radio person missed each other so we were all in the dark, “Ya” about three in the morning at that time so it is easy to miss a rider or radio operator.
Steve and I drove back to meet at Grubbs Well but were too late. Did meet the mail just east of Dry Creek, helped with the exchange coming from Grubbs Well and she was flying. We followed the mail on to Dry Creek. We drove into the ranch just in time to see Char Myers and her daughter and other rider galloping out of camp and over the bridge heading west. We watched until they reached the timber heading up and over the Mountain. Turned around and headed to Austin to meet Arthur Johnson. When we got there we found out that he was on the trail heading west. Melody was getting ready to trailer up to the Park to meet the rider heading down. Exchange made now the run started for Railroad Pass for the next exchange. Leaving Austin Arthur’s team used the two mile exchange program. The mail stopped only a few seconds and back on the trail at a stiff canter. They did deliver the mail early at Rail Road Pass, Great job!!!
Steve and I cut over to highway 50 and headed on to Cold Springs Station. Doug Jares held the time and Petra Keller delivered the mail to Cold Springs, Lyle changed the batteries in the tracker and Nancy Upham started forward to Sand Mountain for the exchange with Grant Bell’s team. The mail was late at this point.
Fred Winkler was waiting for the mail with Sam, Fred hit the trail with dirt and rocks flying and into the dark he rode. The jeep was jamming to keep up with Fred; at the two and a half mile he exchanged the Mochila onto Jane. At this point he still had seven miles or so to make the next exchange. Note: Fred made the eleven plus miles in fifty two minutes. Pitch black on he went to exchange with Brian Bell and Jamie Neilson who were taking the mail up to the trail at Simpson Pass. I should say this was Jamie’s first ride with the mail and her first night ride. Grant Bell was waiting for the mail and when they arrived we added a new rider to our list Steve who had helped me along the trail by driving and other stuff climbed on Dandy and rode a short way so he and his daughter both made their first ride the same night and the same location. Grant jumped Dandy out heading over the pass to meet Rex by Pit Road, no Rex’ so on he road to find Rex or take the mail on over to Top Gun. Well they did meet out on the playa and made the exchange. Rex went on to Top Gun and Grant headed back now seven or eight miles back up and over Simpson Pass to load up the horses and head to our next ride location. Rex Hall delivered the mail to Jill Andrews forty five minutes under our allotted time. Rex loaded up and headed forward to Fort Churchill to meet up with our new riders and the rest of Grants ride team.
Jill moved the mail forward to Hootan Wells where Team Bugg started west to meet up with Grants team and Vicky Moya. We had two new riders I was lucky enough to do the oath and greet them as our new members. Maxi and Heather started our second ride of the day doing five miles each and did a great job. They both covered the trail in a great time, ten miles down of the thirty two. Vicky picked up and rode to Dayton at Highway 50, exchanged to Red and Jamie to head on into Dayton. Grant Bell and Rex Hall covered the next few miles, then exchanged to Brian Bell to ride around the back side of Dayton to meet us on top of the hill just short of Moundhouse. We had time to water the horses and get ready for the last run into Carson City. Brian and Rex exchanged the mail with Rex heading to Carson City; we picked up a VIP as Rex headed out. By the time we got to the hill heading down into Carson City we had two Highway Patrol and three VIP cars and one Sheriff blocking traffic for the horses.
Rex pushed his horse hard and that helped out a lot because the next two horses were tired. The exchange was made and we tried a horse but he just could not move, so we called back Red and I took the mail down the road a mile and changed riders to Brian Bell who rode to the park. Grant took the mail over the park and headed into the next exchange point at The Nevada Day Store and Trading Post at 108 Telegraph St. The next riders were ready to go so they headed on to Genoa and we cooled Dandy down and got him some water. Steve was following the mail on to Genoa and I picked up with my wife Susie Bell. We followed on to Genoa and watched the exchange in town by the fort. By this time my gout was screaming so I knew I could not walk to the exchange point so I headed home from Genoa. Later I received a call telling me that the mail was delivered and I hate to say over four hours late. Thanks to all who rode, we will start planning for next year.