Post ride wrap up 2016

Once again, the Village managed a terrific Mt Adams Ride. There were so many things that went right, it hardly seems fair to bring up the things that weren’t so right, but I’m going to anyhow. Later.


30 miler results  67 started, 60 finished for a 90% completion rate

55 miler results  47 started, 41 finished for an 87% completion rate

75 miler results  9 started, 7 finished for a 78% completion rate

100 miler results  30 (!!!) started, 19 (!!!) finished for a 63% completion rate

There were 11 riders who took on the introductory ride and all seemed to enjoy themselves.

So, going back to 2009. Stephanie Irving, the ride’s second ever RM asked me to take on the ride management with her guidance. It was what any RM would call a “healthy ride”. People tend to show up in droves to early in the year rides and Mt Adams has always been one of those rides people try to get to. The big deal with Mt Adams is that there is usually plenty of trail clean up to be done before the ride. Some years the snow isn’t even completely off the upper trails. It’s not an easy ride to put on, but in the end, it’s very satisfying because, well, “if you build it, they will come”.

ride meeting

Ride meeting for the 55’s, 30’s, R&T’ers, and trail riders

It’s always been plenty of work to put on this ride, but they always come, and they leave mostly happy, and that’s more than any RM can hope for. My goal, however, was to make the ride even better. When Steph asked me to take on the ride, I thought to myself, here’s an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. I like to think a trail should be marked a certain way. I like to think that decent awards, sometimes something unique are a little of what people come for. I like to think a well thought out course brings people back. We played around with the trail configurations, we learned by trial and error what works and most certainly does not work in trail marking. We wanted to build a ride that people wanted to go to . A ride that people plan their season around.

On that note, a few comments about what has worked and didn’t work at the Mt Adams.

FEI…a couple of years ago, I was approached by Jala Neufeld and Nicole Miller and asked if I would consider letting FEI co-sanction. There are very few FEI rides left on the west coast, so riders looking to get their qualifications for the various Young Rider Championships and on continent Championships have a difficult time unless they have the means to travel to the east coast, lease a horse, and hope to complete their one and two star FEI rides. Because I believe in being a part of a solution, rather than part of those who gripe and moan about all that is wrong with a situation, organization, what have you,  I agreed to let them co-sanction on the condition that it didn’t put my AERC riders “out”. The ride has lost entries because of this decision, but seeing it work otherwise, and seeing a group of really good people come together to make it happen has been gratifying. Losing a few entries has been a cross we’ve had to bear in order to provide a good experience for both AERC and FEI riders on this side of the continental divide. The first year it went so well, that I agreed to allow a one and two star ride this year. Both went very well, in my humble opinion. It is no easy task to bring in the amount of veterinarians and ride officials necessary to put on an AERC/FEI ride, but they got it done. The vet lines ran seamlessly with several riders commenting on how fast and efficiently they were seen by the vets. Build it and they will come.

My daughter, the semi-pro photographer, was at Mt Adams to take photos again. Thank you Jess! She does amazing work and people seem to really love her photos. You can find your photos of the Mt Adams Ride here: Mt Adams Photos 2016

The Midnight Riders 4-H club again did manure removal duty and worked their butts off most of Sunday after the ride making the place look like there couldn’t have possibly been 150+ horses there all weekend. They are so appreciated! Thank you all again, for donating to them!

Many donations, both monetary and otherwise showed up for the Helping Hands Against Violence house. Thank you so much!! It is all needed and very much appreciated.

So onto trail commentary…note to rookie RM’s…do not ever, and I mean EVER change a loop color, for any reason in the middle of a loop. For any reason. Make complete loops in one color, marked on one side of the trail only. (preferably the right side as you go, since that’s MO for rides, typically.) Have your corners marked clearly and follow the ribboning through the corner to give your riders confidence. Better to have your old timers thinking your trails are overmarked than your rookies wandering around in the woods because they see some old logger ribbon that must be the way. Through the brambles. Over down logs. Because, that’s what they do. And Dean. Dean does it too on occasion. A ride manager must Dean Proof their trails in order to really consider their ride a flaming success. Quite honestly, we’ll all fail. Dean proves us wrong a lot. Use ribbon that even color blind people can differentiate. One frustrating thing about printed ribbon like checks, stripes, etc, is that they are only printed on one side. Gail Williams once told me to always put a white or pink ribbon with any ribbon color you have out there.  That way it’s distinguished between trail ribbon and just ribbons tied in the woods by party goers, loggers, surveyors, and the like. Steph and Steve, years ago procured some old parachute ribbon and it works amazingly. It doesn’t get “eaten up” by branches. It hangs down and does its job well. Several years ago, we took to marking our corners differently. I learned this from the gals who manage the Klickitat Trek ride over in Glenwood, WA (one of my top 5 favorite rides ever, btw). They hang a streamer of yellow CAUTION ribbon with the trail ribbon at corners and dangerous spots. A side note about something I’ve learned…putting a yellow/white loop out there can be confusing with yellow caution tape. No one has ever directly complained, but it bugs me. We use lots of lime. The sort that is found on baseball fields. That stuff practically glows in the dark. Some RM’s use flour, but, well…it bugs me. We use the real stuff and it works well. Glow sticks! Yes, I do love glow sticks. There are those hard core riders out there who don’t need/want glowsticks, but I love them. They don’t bug me. Unless they aren’t hung the way “I” like them hung. A few years ago, I began to color code the loops with glowsticks, blue ones on the blue trail with red on the corners, green ones on the green loop, with red on the corners, orange ones on the…ok, it got a little out of control. I changed to green glow sticks on the dark loops with red glowsticks on the corners. Then because it seemed like a cool idea, we added a strip of reflective tape to the trail ribbon. That made my brain happy. It didn’t bug me at all.

trail markings

All of our trail colors represented on the “IN” trail!

Laminated signs. Yes, I know that good ole paper plates have been the mainstay of trail marking since the dawn of endurance riding, but one day, here in the somewhat damp Northwest, a thought occurred to me. Hmmm, what if we *laminated* signs and hung them out there! My trail captain, Max, thought that was a great idea. The ride invested in a $50 laminator that we powered with a Honda generator. We bought some paper and some plastic laminating sleeves, and booyah!! Max fashioned some stakes, we drove them in the ground, stapled our “Dean Proof” signs on and felt quite pleased with our damnselves. The signs don’t turn the other way when the wind blows, they don’t melt when it rains, and they can quite clearly state what we would like to get across to our riders. I do not regret the expenditure one bit. Every RM should have a laminator.


Max organizing our laminated signs.

Typically we go up to the ride a weekend or two in late winter, early spring. We have to haul pack animals, chainsaws, chainsaw juice, gloves, ribbons, signs, etc and begin to work on the upper trails. Those ones that are on USFS land where quads are not allowed. We put in a hard weekend or two, then gather there again the weekend before the race. That week before the race is spent going back over the areas we’ve already worked. We finish marking trails. We clear and mark approximately 85 miles of trail for this ride, so again, it’s work intensive. Once the trails are done, or nearly done, we set up camp. We set up boundaries for the vetting area, the P&R area, Anna and Mary’s parking. We set out water tanks in camp and fill them. On Friday am, Max heads out with his water wagon and sets the tanks we want on the trail. This is pretty much an all day job.

water duty

Max is filling one of our main tanks. This job is huge and one of our most important duties.

Since we’ve hauled CWF hay up, we have to keep records on that and make sure that reserved hay doesn’t walk away with the wrong person. For more on the whole CWF hay debacle, please refer to an earlier post. CWF hay is frustrating at best. But, I digress…we’ve spent a week cutting, clearing, marking, putting water out, putting porta-potties out, organizing and just working our hineys off, putting the finishing touches on the trails and camp. I don’t think I can count all of the man hours that go into putting this ride on, but it’s all worth it. Then, we wait. If you build it, they will come.


hay and tanks

Bringing in 3 tons of CWF hay and water tanks.

One thing I really wanted to do when we took on the Mt Adams ride was build the 100 miler. This is a world class course, and I have received lots of sage advice on building the 100 mile course over the years, and about three years ago, we hit it right. Word got out, and the numbers started building. I never in my wildest dreams expected 30 people to sign up for the 100 miler! I never expected 8 people from California alone to show up to ride OUR 100 miler! The Mt Adams 100 miler has turned into a bucket list ride and I couldn’t be happier about that. That’s like a dream come true for me. We had riders from Nevada and California make a point to come to *this* 100 miler because of all the good things they’ve hard. I give much of the credit for those good words to Nicole Chappell. Nicole first made the trip up to ride the 100 at Mt Adams in 2010 (on her Golden Knight horse, who she finished 2016’s 100 on!) and did her darnedest to return every year. If she couldn’t  make it, she sent her friends, her mom, everyone who would listen, to ride our 100. Thank you for endorsing our 100 miler, Nicole.  You’re a dear person. This year, in to kind of mark our departing from management duties at the Mt Adams ride, and to celebrate 100 mile riders, we decided to give out custom polar fleece coolers as completion awards to all of the 100 milers that finished the ride.


AERC/PNER rider, Michelle Kronsberg, working on the 100 mile completion coolers. 

This year, I tried something a little different. Something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with, but it was something I’ve seen done for other things. It seemed like a good way to get the word out. I was getting many calls/texts/PM’s/emails about things like the trail markings, the WEATHER, you name it…so I thought, what the hell, give it a try. Put that shy person in the corner with her blanket and give it all ya got. I started making short videos of our daily progress prior to the ride. To my amazement, they were very well received! People loved them! I’m still in shock over that, but I’m happy it worked!

In 2016, riders began showing up in earnest on Thursday. Thursday! We couldn’t believe it. We had  people showing up from California, Nevada, Montana, BC, Idaho, Oregon, and of course, Washington. They just didn’t stop! There were rigs pulling in around 10:30 pm Friday night! On Saturday morning, the riders saddled up and began their rides in a most organized, patient and courteous manner! I was incredulous over how great everyone did on the starts of each distance. Thank you!

Anna Sampson has been our esteemed Ride Secretary for several years now. I will never regret asking Anna for her help when I was in college and wasn’t able to oversee the registration desk. Anna does that, but she also manages the P&R area, she keeps the most meticulous time sheets ever, and she has the ride results into AERC accurately, almost immediately! She’s incredible. Anna told me this year to be sure that everyone knew how much she appreciated the stellar bunch of volunteers we had at the ride this year. We do. We have riders who, if they can’t ride for some reason, the come and volunteer anyhow! So we do what any good ride management team would do. We feed them. We try to feed them well and keep them happy with some token trinkets. It seems to work, because they come back and they’re happy. Volunteers are the backbone of our endurance organizations. AERC and PNER both rely heavily on volunteer efforts. I want to name names, but I will inevitably forget someone and that makes me feel bad, so I’ll just say, thank you volunteers!! You keep the Mt Adams Ride running efficiently.

PR crew

This year I had a new sidekick helping take pulses! My grandson, Tristan, stuck by my side most of the day! 

Our 100 milers did such a great job this year! Yes, we had 30 riders, and inevitably, we had some pulls. But finishing 19 of 30 is amazing. What is more amazing is the fact that 3 of those 30 were junior riders! Sanoma Blakeley in 6th place, Alex Niehaus in 7th place, and Jack Bowling in 15th place all started and finished the 100 miler this year. What a bunch of well brought up young people! Sanoma has finished three 100 milers now, Alex has finished two, and Jack finished his first 100 on an awesome horse called Rushcreek Notail.

I saw parents, grandparents, friends and strangers all cheering on the 100 mile juniors. That made me happy. Mostly because I was the mom of a 100 mile rider. I know how it feels to send your kid out with someone and trust that that sponsor will take care of your kid and their horse.

In all, we had 5 juniors complete the Mt Adams Ride this year. Morgan Miller finished the 55 and, cute as a button, Kaidyn Griggs finished the 30 on her pony, Moonpie.

We also had a couple of junior riders on the Ride & Tie. Carson and Jordan attempted the short course. I have to hand it to these two young men, because (watch out…here comes a Whack on the Knuckles Award)…they’re young, 14 and 12, and they decided to give it a try, which is commendable in and itself. Being inexperienced, they inadvertently allowed their mare to crowd the horse in front of them and she was kicked, causing a small laceration on her chest. The boys decided to walk her back to the nearest radio crew and ask to be hauled in from the trail. They got chewed out for letting their mare follow too closely, which is an honest mistake. However…these KIDS are new to it all. They participated in a “hand tie” which involves a person holding the horse while the runner catches up and takes the horse and goes on. In their mother’s words, “after the hand off he was walking back on the trail- he wanted to make sure he was not in anyone’s way so he was walking a bit off the trail in the trees – one rider politely told him he should be on the trail and in view so as not to spook the horses- he said oh yeah good point – so then he stayed on the trail, ensuring to be at most visible points in curves- and then later another rider came up and said “Jesus Christ you dumbass!”  REALLY??? One of you riders had to go and talk to a kid that way on the trails? We don’t talk like that to riders, kids or not, at the Mt Adams Ride. I take pride in this ride being well thought of because we are kind to people! It would have been much nice to simply ask him to step off the trail a bit so he didn’t get run over!  That is such poor sportsmanship, and I am so appalled that any person was treated by that at our ride. I have apologized to their mom, and I feel terrible. She asked me what she might suggest to her boys, should they attempt to try ride & tie again. Your KIND suggestions are welcome. No name calling, no harassing, no demeaning at this ride. No. Not here. Ever. A solid whack on the knuckles to whomever decided it was appropriate to call a kid names on the trail.

Since we’re already there, and I’m riled up now, I’ll move on to a second Whack on the Knuckles Award, and believe me, if I find out who you are, I’ll be pulling your completion for this one. Because this ride is so big, and we don’t want to take up too much space in the Mt Adams Horse Camp, we base our ride out of the other end of the seed field. In the FREE zone. I thought I had made it abundantly clear that if a rider chose to park in the Mt Adams HORSE CAMP, they had to pay the USFS fee of $5/night for the privilege of high tying and nice toilets. When the USFS agent made his rounds though the horse camp prior to the ride he found several Mt Adams entrants parked within the Mt Adams Horse Camp. Several had not paid but agreed to do so, however one person decided to be belligerent and refuse to pay. They verbally abused the USFS agent and made it clear that they would not be paying. OVER A $5/NIGHT FEE!!! $5…REALLY???

Thanks…you could have cost us our permit for next year. No permit, no ride.

Quoted from the letter Stephanie received from the USFS:

Veronica and Stephanie,

We hope you had a great event over the weekend.  The weather seemed to cooperate!  A couple of things for next year.  We need to make sure that people absolutely know that they must pay if staying in the campground next to the seed orchard.  We had one camper who was part of your group that refused to pay.  Unfortunately this will make monitoring and enforcement of campground payment more stringent next year.  Or we may have to exclude the campground from  any of the participants.   Also, if folks use the campground, they must use the highline.    

One item of concern, is that we need to make sure that  the hay being utilized is  weed free.  This is an absolute must do, and in future years, if the hay is found to have weeds, could result in cancellation of the permit, and we don’t want that. 

Thanks for your attention to these items, happy riding,



David F. Wickwire
Recreation Program Manager
Forest Service

Mt. Adams

p: 509-395-3410
f: 509-395-3424
2455 Hwy. 141
Trout Lake, WA 98650
Caring for the land and serving people

Ok, so to reiterate…if I do find out who this belligerent and uncooperative person was, I will be pulling your completion. I asked if the USFS agent had taken down license plate #’s and am waiting to hear back. If the rider were to contact me and agree to write a letter of apology and submit a camping fee, it would be most appreciated, and I will consider keeping the completion intact.  That sort of behavior is not tolerable or acceptable at the Mt Adams Ride. Ever.

One last Whack on the Knuckles Award goes to the person who backed over one of “our” water tanks (and by “our” I mean Charleen Farrell’s. She manages the Oregon 100 ride and has bought and maintained these tanks for years. She graciously lets other RM’s use them for their rides. She has lost tanks this way due to one thing or another and didn’t get them replaced.) The person who mashed the tank didn’t come find us to report it. A good Samaritan rider came to find me and let us know that one of our tanks had been mashed by someone making a corner. You can’t tell me that you didn’t feel that or hear it breaking apart. It was mashed! These are heavy duty Rubbermaid tanks. Anyhow, the Mt Adams Ride will be buying Sharke two new Rubbermaid tanks this year. Anyone who has purchased one knows they’re top of the line and not cheap.

Well, now that I got that out of the way, I would like to continue with what was an otherwise beautiful enjoyable day. The weather gods smiled on us and kept the conditions temperate, which the horses appreciated. Our markings were not sabotaged, and the water tanks never ran dry. And, we enjoyed an 83% overall completion rate.

So now it’s two weeks later, I finally made the time to get this all down. No, I’m sorry, to those of you who’ve asked, I have not found (I do have them!) and sent your vet cards to you. This is difficult for me. I know it seems easy, but we were wiped out after the ride. I’ll get to it, I promise. I will bring the cards with me to the Klickitat Trek ride, as well. Keep bugging me, politely, so I don’t forget. Hey! Your results are turned in to AERC and posted online already. That, in itself, is nothing short of miraculous to me!

Thank you all for the many kind words out in social media land, for our ride. That is the best form of advertisement ever! I love seeing what everyone has to say about Mt Adams, both positive and suggestion wise. We take the suggestions seriously, as I hope you all have witnessed. Please be sure to share your posts on the Mt Adams Facebook page!

And so, as most of you know, Max and I have made the difficult decision to pass our beloved Mt Adams Ride back to Stephanie Irving. We intend to help out next year, and we know she cares for the ride as much as we do. This evidenced by the fact that she hasn’t ridden an AERC ride in years, yet has a passion to keep this ride going for…who? YOU!! The riders! Treat her well, help her out and come ride the ride. I know we will.

Next year, you’ll find Max and I managing the Grizzly Mtn Ride, over between Madras, OR and Prineville, OR. It’s near our place and on some of our favorite training grounds. Be prepared for some things to look different at the  2017 Grizzly Mtn Ride, in mid April of 2017.

Thanks for making the Mt Adams Ride the Bucket List ride it has become! It would not have been possible without you, the riders.

trail crew

Stephanie Irving and Max Merlich. Best trail crew ever!

Darlene Anderson, Mt Adams Ride Manager 2010-2016




2 thoughts on “Post ride wrap up 2016

  1. Great write-up. We had a wonderful time. We’ve been waiting 13 years to make it to this ride and it was everything we hoped. Now we must plan for the 100 so we can see even more of the trails.
    And I do hope the bad apple admits their poor decisions and changes their behavior because there’s just no point in living that unhappy a life.
    Thank you for all that incredibly hard work!


  2. I really enjoyed reading your write-up. It would make a great mentor-reading list for new RMs, and AERC and PNER could post it as well as other “best practices” from experienced RMS. I felt like I was there, by golly, and I’d sure like to do that ride. Besides, we don’t see as many of our Oregon/Washington buds at our Idaho rides anymore, and it would be nice to do some cross state PNER rides. Best to you – Carrie Thorburn


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