Trailblazers Silver Lake Ride,
by Nick Warhol
July in the Bay Area- it could only mean the annual riding trip up to Silver lake! Trail Boss especial Jean Schreiber led the gang on another fun filled and action packed adventure weekend in the beautiful high mountains deep in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. The horse camp meadow at Silver Lake is at over 7000 feet in elevation, making it a high altitude paradise. (Except for the fishing- that stunk!) A good size group made the trek this year, hoping to avoid the rain and hail soaked disasters of this ride last year. Funny thing- there were a few savvy Trailblazers sporting a lot of waterproof gear this year, myself included. Wouldn’t you know- all that preparation and no rain this time. That’s fine with me! I left Shatta at home to rest for the weekend, since he was between two endurance rides that weekend. Warpaint is still up on the car jacks, so the old man Rowan got the nod once again. He’s in great shape these days- I like getting him o! ut on the weekend trips since he spends so much time at home now that the endurance season is in full swing.
Claire Dugan joined me in my trailer with her Neat-little-mare Habatu so we could share the gas expense. Jean brought her daughter Katie up to ride the ever present Orion, but the new horse of the trip award went to Jean’s very nice Arabian mare named Pheboe. (Phee-be? Fe-be? Fe-ve? I don’t know, but it sounded like that!) She’s a dappley sort of color, but a nice big mare who had not ever been on a camping trip before. Katie brought along her boyfriend ---- he rode Orion a bit, but brought his jet ski and new full suspension mountain bike. Jean’s hubby and all around decent guy Jack tagged along with his mountain bike as well. Andi Schreibman brought her big quarter horse mare Sierra up - she hasn’t been out on a ride in a long while, and was itching to get back up in the rain, Oops, I mean the mountains. Dick Quigley made the trip up with his old faithful Arabian Gelding Babe, also known as Babe. (That’s Bobb! y) Dick has Sue and Jerry Riley’s old camper on his truck, and is loving every minute of this camping stuff now. He and Jack even figured out how to fire up his fridge! Tom Sloan brought the swift gray mare Jewel along with Sally Pringle who rode Kathy Grandfields horse. Karen Schwartz brought her Arabian endurance speedster Chris up for a relaxed weekend in the mountains. He’s usually up there doing stuff like winning races or leading Tevis, so he must have been wondering about the nice easy pace! Kevin and Melody Stoffel came up with Melody’s quarter horse mare Niki, but left Kevin’s huge appaloosa Buddy at home this weekend. Kevin was there to fish! Otheres??Claire and I arrived around noon on Friday afternoon and quickly saddled up for a ride around the lake. It’s about 5 miles of very rocky and technical trail to the other side, but when we got two-thirds around the lake we totally lost the trail! We eventually just turned aroun! d and came back the way we came, making it a little longer ride than we had planned. We arrived back in camp as most of the group was arriving and getting saddled up. Kevin and I grabbed the fishing poles and proceeded to sit on the side of the lake for a few hours getting a sun tan. No fish. Most of the rest of the riders went out for a warm up ride either along the lake or up on the short single track trail loop with Jean. Friday night is the traditional dinner at the Silver Lake restaurant- we had about 13 people at the table. Some of those steaks were so big it was almost comical. The general consensus was the garlic mashed potatoes were superb! (the beer wasn’t bad, either) It was too late for a fire, so it was off to bed.
Saturday morning was a nice sunny day with bright blue sky. The group was so big we split up into two groups- one to go on a longer faster ride, and the other going on a nice slow easier pace. Rowan and I joined the slow group for an easy ride through the rocks up to a couple of lakes up behind the meadow. It is so rocky in places a mountain goat would be welcome. We sort of lost the trail a little on the way back due to the leader missing some turns (OK, it was me!), but we jusst plonked our way through the rocks back to camp where we took a nice lunch break. After a rest we headed back out for a longer loop up a long steep single track climb to the main ridge which runs high above the lake. We worked our way through the mountains in the exact spot we got so wet last year. Jean was being cautious with her young horse, so she and Katie split off from the group and headed down the huge slide back towards camp while the rest of us continued down th! e ridge. We had a nice uneventful ride going until Melody took a bad fall off her horse while crossing a creek. Niki was climbing up a slight grade- she stopped, wheeled back around, and jumped back over the water. Poor Melody fell off and almost got trampled! She took quite a whack on her hip, but thank goodness she was not seriously hurt. Except Niki took off running down the road! I hopped down from Rowan and gave chase on foot. I ran hard and fast for about a mile and a half or so, and actually caught up to the horse who was still trotting down the road. I called to her- she slowed down and sort of stopped for me. Good horse! I led her back up the road to where Andi had fabricated an Ice pack for Melody out of a baggie and some snow! Yep- very handy to have snow laying around. Melody got back up and we continued down a few miles to the downhill single track which leads a long way back to camp. We got there just as the riders returned from the long ride as wel! l. My wife Judy had just arrived in her car- she drove up to join us for the evening and to ride Rowan on Sunday while I fished.
Tonight’s dinner was a huge pot-luck, and as usual we out did ourselves. What a pig out! Jack fired up the little Yamaha generator and made margaritas for everyone. Andi’s Byron corn was once again a hit, and the wonderful prawns with cocktail sauce lasted about ten minutes with me there. Claire’s Chili was not chili, but it turned out to be a great dish of baked beans. Dick’s chili WAS chili! A huge bon fire kept everyone toasty warm from the cool evening air until it was time to go back to sleep. Sunday morning brought another nice sunny day. A few people went for a short ride and packed up for the return trip, but five or six formed a group and went out for what turned into about a five hour ride. (Funny how that happens?) I went fishing in the morning and caught a big nothing, so being discouraged I decided to go for a mountain bike ride with Jack and ----. I brought my old clunker junker mountain bike which was of course broken. I h! opped in the car and shot over to Kirkwood for some parts, which they were out of. Instead I came back with a rental mountain bike the likes of which I had never been on before. It was fully suspended, very light, and was an absolute gas to ride! ----- and I went on a long ride up the ridge to where we had been on the horses the day before. I had such a good time on the bike I went out and bought myself one a week or so later!
We returned to camp to find the riders still out, and an entire herd of rigs pulling into the meadow. They were a huge group of riders from Napa who wanted our prime parking spots. Some were good natured about it, but others said "move out of here!" I watched in shock as This rolling band of lunatics tried to set up camp. I started making notes of all the crazy stuff I witnessed since I could not believe it kept going on! In no particular order here’s what I witnessed: A horse got it’s lead rope under the dressing room door of a new trailer, lifted it up, and pulled the entire door off! The door flew through the air like a demented kite towards the horse! Two horses went through a hot wire and ran off for a while. And ah yes, the driving. One guy backed his trailer into a tree, like hard. CLANG! Nice dent. Another lady drove a truck through the meadow with 5 bales of hay on the back, which fell off and broke open all over the! place. Another woman backed her trailer up right over the bicycle which was leaned up against the back of the trailer. Crunch! No more bike! One guy backed up right over a hot wire, freeing yet another horse. Two different horses pulled back on their ropes and escaped. This one was great- a guy cranked up the jack on a fifth wheel trailer all the way up off the truck, pulled the truck out, then suddenly KERBLAM!!!! The jack slipped, or something, and the entire front of the trailer came crashing to the ground. Lucky there were no horses in it. A woman set up her camp right behind my truck, which was no big deal since I could still pull out forward. Until the nuts strung up a picket line directly in front of my truck, like 5 feet in front of it, effectively pinning me in! This guy takes this huge Appy and ties it on a picket line next to another horse, who immediately start kicking the heck out of the Appy. It was like watching a comedy show. After the riders all made it back safely we departed the camping circus and made our way back home. It was another fun and exciting weekend of riding in the mountains, complete with no crazy rain adventures.