Thursday, October 03, 2002

Michigan on a Morgan - Mary Coleman

In 1987 Blazing Hawk (my horses sire) had finished the Shore to Shore ride which starts you in Lake Huron and ends you in Lake Michigan. Yes 5 days of 50 miles each day across the state. For some reason this is one ride I always wanted to do. So when I bought Hawk I informed him it's in his genes to one day get me across Michigan. August 10th, 2002 we were loaded and headed to Oscoda, Michigan.M
Prelude: Dust Bowl Camp: We didn't make it to this camp actually called River Road(renamed by me) till 9 p.m. and it looked like everyone in the country had decided to traverse across the state this year. We were a little cramped but set-up in a good selling spot even though a layer of dust settled in every crevice of the trailer. Charles and me decided to go scope out the next camp and to see where the vet checks were held. YIKES now the eye opener I had heard that water was a problem but little did I know that meant there was none! Midwesterners ideas of holds was you pull along a dirt road you're on your own for water etc. This ain't even funny I'm on a Morgan which require 9000 gallons more of H2O to make the pulse especially when its hot! And it's hot; so much for traveling 600 miles northwest to escape the drought and humidity of Pa.
One of my favorite sayings is that even a blind squirrel finds a nut in the woods once in a while. Luckily Cindy Simcox had decided this was her year to attempt S to S. So we came up with a plan her husband Rick was to haul both rigs to the next campsite, set-up the pens for the horses each night and be ready for us when we arrive to get our completion. Charles was to crew for us at the three holds each day on trail. This is when he found out this ain't no vacation. I had both a 50 gallon and a 30 gallon drum for water each would have to be refilled wherever.
Monday Day 1 Body Piercing Day: After 3 miles of this permanently marked trail I decided Michigan trail riders all ride slender, short ponies. Hawks big stride didn't fit in the "ditch" well and my body took a beating from all the overhead branches. The closer to any camp you were the more heavily used the ditch (trail) was and the deeper the sand was. If the trail didn't beat me to death I was on my own dumping water on Hawk and getting soaked myself which means by tomorrow I will be getting rubbed from being drenched. This day was hot and the water was a continual worry for me. We were expecting to finish at 2ish each day but came in closer to 4ish. Then Rick found out 2-5 gallon buckets of water don’t cut it with a Morgan. It’s my turn to fix supper and our husbands wouldn’t go for my taste which would have been Honey Nut Cheerios and M&Ms. So after minimal sleep, constant worry about the heat and 7 hours in the saddle I get to cook! And of course repack the truck for tomorrow. I’m just loving this pioneer thing.
Tuesday Day 2 Tear Down the Wallpaper Maggie We’re Moving Again: We realize this is not just a horse race but a trailer race also as rigs are fired up and hauled out before daybreak to the next camp. Once again the heat is a concern ( I could just kill the weatherman that promised rain and a cool front). Hawk failed the CRI so much I was ready to CRY! I kept telling Barney (yes our AERC President) to give him a break he’s a Morgan. It never worked but give me E for effort. On day 1 I had successfully ridden 9,000 ECTRA miles and ½ way around day 2 was the 1st time I ever relinquished my helmet on a ride. I felt naked but no way was my sore, chafed, hot body going to be able to keep going with the helmet. I was to the point of saying Uncle- 100 Michigan miles was enough for me. C’mon rain.
Wednesday Hawk and Stormy’s (Cindy's horse) Fun-meter Shuts Off: The rain cameth! Overnight we got a good downpour and it rained off and on most of today. Never did I think I’d be so happy to see a puddle. Now we had other problems to deal with i.e. girth sores, interference marks, and just plain bad attitude from the horses. Course ours wasn’t the greatest either; we’d just keep saying shut-up and trot to each other. This was called the long day and we did not finish till 5. Oh what fun! Stay tuned for the exciting end of Michigan on a Morgan
Thursday Day 4 First Time for Everything Day: It was cooler and this was the first day Hawk did not fail the CRI. First day Cindy succumbed to Aleve, first time I ever ate a Whopper (yes Charles has turned into quite the pit-crew) first time we had road riding which meant we were done before 4. And best of all first time we got to eat at a restaurant all week! Complete with flush toilets and telephones we’re almost out of this pioneerism thing.
Friday Day 5 Eye on the Prize: If you complete all 5days eventually you are sent a Shore to Shore jacket embroidered with yours and your horses name. I told Wayne the manager I had my eye on the prize! This was my favorite day the end was in sight, lots of road riding, puddles were still there and the horses seem to sense it was almost over. The 50 ended along side a major highway you received your completion there but in order to be a true pioneer you had to ride 3 miles further into Lake Michigan. The waves were enough to bowl Hawk over but he did reluctantly go in. He didn’t seem to understand water that wouldn’t stand still when he wanted a drink. I swim like a rock and only agreed to go in because I was promised an ice cream cone and it was my birthday what a great present to finish.
Epilogue: Cabela’s Here We Come: Right over the Michigan border is the Wal-mart of the outdoorsmans store. We had promised our husbands they could finally have some vacation fun and spend money on items other than ice, bandaids and Desitin. It was a great feeling sitting in the truck not worrying about changing diagonals. I actually think this was the hardest ride I’ve done- makes Old D look like a cake walk. But what a sense of accomplishment to make it all 5 days with a horse that was none the worse for wear. I’m really not sure what to follow this up with I bet Charles and Hawk can’t wait to find out!

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