Seriously, how does one go about obtaining a adventure? I always do my best thinking on horseback, so headed out to the stable to ride. As I was throwing a saddle pad on my mare Estella, I called out to a rider coming in the gate, off the trails.
“Hell ya! - finally broke my 5 mph average this week!”
Linda was an endurance rider. A bit of a strange duck. Obsessed with color matching her tack and riding tights and constantly muttering about heart rate recovers and “CRIs”. And I'm pretty sure I saw her peeing in the bushes once with her horse munching grass besides her - she actually waved to me as I rode by and said something about practicing the "cavalry" thing for an upcoming ride. I preferred to do the “casual acquaintance” thing and throw out a hello or two, but avoid deep conversation.
Linda reached down and patted Boomer’s neck. “I think he’s finally ready. We have a 35 mile ride scheduled in 4 weeks. I’ve been working to get his trot up to 9-10 mph be able to maintain at least a 5 mph average and I think we’ve got it! Got to keep moving if I'm going to do a 50 mile ride on him by the end of the season”.
I let the blur of numbers sail pass my head and nodded politely as I tightened Estella’s girth.
“Did you hear? Another horse went off the side on the American River trail”.
I straightened up. I may not be a serious trail rider, but even I couldn’t miss the buzz that was going in the news. “Really? Isn’t that the second horse this year?”
“Yep. No riders have gone off the side yet, and at least this one survived. The Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) headed out a couple hours ago to assist with the rescue.”
“Do they have any details on the fall?”
“Nope. Just like the others, the rider said he felt dizzy for a moment, stumbled, and when he looked back his horse was gone - exactly at the same spot the horse went off the trail last month, and the same spot as the others last year. Apparently, there’s going to be an actual investigation now”.
In the last three years there had been some curious accidents on the trail that paralleled the American River. Five horses had disappeared off the trail in the last two seasons. One had fallen with his rider. Two of the horses had never been found. One, the horse from today, was alive. Two had been found dead either in the river or on the way down. The trail was a popular one and with it’s narrow single track only 18 inches wide, with a steep hill on one side and a drop off heading straight down to the river hundreds of feet below, accidents weren’t unheard of, but there certainly seemed like something funny was going on.
Linda was continuing to talk. “I was considering doing a training ride there next weekend but now I don’t know. There’s something weird going on.”
“Hope they get it figured out”, I replied. I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and stepped away from Linda who was rinsing Boomer off to answer it.
“Hi Jessica, what’s up?”