FROM: Wendy Anderson
Jim Hannah and Tony Zamora. It was dark, pitch black. The horses moved out carefully, watching all the shadows from vehicles in the front and in back of them. Their ride went well, then the next two riders headed out, and things went drastically wrong quickly. One rider came off and the horse disappeared into the dark morning. Luckily, the rider seemed to be okay, and the mail had been on the other rider’s horse, so the mail must go on.
A big thank you to Lyle Ladner and Dean Atkins for staying behind and searching for the missing horse.
From here the riders lined out into the dark morning. We had a truck go ahead to open all the gates at every cattle guard and get prepared to take the mail across Tippets. Here Tom Love, Carol Hunt and Eva Jensen took the mail across Tippets, they were met by some of the Hannahs who took the mail up to what we call the turn around. There, Ed Ockert had dropped off riders who would be waiting to take the mail through Rock Springs. In this stretch of trail, we cannot take trucks and trailers, so the majority of the riders not participating waited for Ed to get back, so we could lead him around the mountain to pick up riders on the other side of the mountain. It takes about 45 minutes to drive all the way around to get to the other side of Rock Springs to the pond. We had been traveling slower than normal, because of brake issues, (yes some more issues we would have to deal with for the remainder of the re-ride) so it took us longer than normal to cover the miles. When we finally got to the top of the mountain, the riders were already coming off the mountain. I hurried and kicked out my horse, Cowboy and we trotted down the mountain. I handed off the mail to Tony Zamora, who quickly covered a few miles, then he handed off to the ride captain’s granddaughters and they hurried down the trail to Vogler’s Y. At this point, Tom Love had lined out some riders to get the mail up and over Schellbourne Pass and into Schellbourne Station rest area and monument. Vince Hannah carried the mail into Schellbourne for us. We are very excited to have him join us for the re-ride, as earlier in the year, he had to have back surgery and was told he might never ride again. We are very happy to see him on a horse again. Great job Vince.
At this point, we are all very appreciative to Joyce Christensen as she was gracious enough to once again bring out breakfast and lunch for all the riders. So, everyone hurried to clean up, eat, drink, grab lunch, water horses and head back down the trail.
Here, we had some more bad luck, one of the Paso Finos decided he wanted out the front of the horse trailer and ended up getting hurt in the trailer. So, now we were down a rider and two horses. This was hard because the other horses were wearing down in the 95 plus degree heat with all the rough terrain to cover.
But, the mail does not stop, so Jimmy Hannah jumped on a horse and headed out towards Cherry Creek. Other riders quickly took care of business and got down the trail to help him out.
Doc Chris, Chris and Drake was already headed down the trail to get the mail and head up over Egan Canyon. The rest of the riders had to drive all the way around Cherry Creek and head over to Butte Valley.
Once the Christensen’t got the mail over Egan, they handed off to Eva Jensen, who took the mail down off the mine road and then handed off to Nora and Deanna, who rode across Butte Valley, where they handed off to Tony and Gene Ockert (the ride captain) so they could ride for several miles through White Rock. White Rock is a very interesting area to ride through, there is no marked trail, in fact, a lot of wild horse trails through this area of 7 or 8 miles, make it very hard to figure out where the trail actually is. Both Tony and Gene said they seen several wild horses that made their ride quite scary as Gene was on a young mare.
Luckily, they made it through White Rock without too much more adventure, to find all of us waiting to get the mail on down the trail. Schellbourne riders lined out across the hot dusty trail and we covered the miles as quickly as we could with hot, tired horses and riders.
When we arrived at the Mavericks, we found that Tom Love and Carol had lost what they thought at this time as the transmission in their truck, so they were done. 3 more horses and riders were out of the ride. All we could do at this point, was tell them we would be back for them if necessary when we were done.
With a lot of miles left to cover and tired horses and riders, it was not looking too good. But, my hat is off to the Schellbourne Re-riders, we all dug down deep and kept getting the horses out of the trailers and covered the miles.
Jim Hannah got his beautiful Paso Fina stallion out of the trailer and quickly covered the miles across the valley for us. It is about 8 miles across the valley, and he really helped us pick up some time on his ride.
Then, we all lined out for the last 19 miles of the ride.
I was questionable for the ride as well this year as I came off a few weeks prior to the re-ride. But, everything worked out great between my horse and I and we quickly covered several of the miles towards the end of the ride too.
Tony Zamora was really tired and had two tired horses in the trailer, but he got his horses out and rode both of them again too.
When everything was all said and done, I don’t believe anyone could say they did not get to ride enough.
Between Drake and Chris, they finished the ride for us by getting the mail up to the top of the Diamonds for us.
Chris was supposed to be to work the next morning bright and early and finally got down off the mountain in the dark, tired, hungary, and slightly off trail. We cannot say thank you enough to the Christensen’s for going the extra mile to make sure the hand off was complete. Thanks for your devotion to Pony Express, you are awesome.
Everyone else headed to camp to get horses fed and watered. I had lots of help preparing super and those that could stay, got ready for bed. I had to be to work in the morning, so we headed home. With limited brakes, it was a very long trip home.
What else could be said about our adventures in Pony Express this year? Well, we all had a really great time, we love the Pony Express, the trails, the friendships and of course the great horses.
Gene Ockert is our Ride Captain, he did a great job this year. We are going to work on a couple of things that could help time wise for next year, but he rode his horses and covered the miles in 2015.
So, until next year, keep the history alive and we will see you on the trails again.