It isn't often that the expectation of an event surpasses the actual occurrence, but it happened this past week as I experienced my first Las Damas 5-day Ride. This was the 61st anniversary of the all-women ride. I was a "Pigeon" or first year invited guest. If I ride on 4 monthly rides this year, and attend the 5-day ride next year (and ride on 4 of the 5 rides during the week), I COULD be invited to join the Las Damas organization. It would be an honor to be included with the wonderful women who plan, organize, and carry out these rides.
This year the ride took place at Coopers Ranch, a 28,000 acre private property near Peeples Valley, about 30 miles south of Prescott. It is near the source springs of the Hassayampa River, which eventually flows down to Wickenburg. About a hundred years ago, a dam built broke, and a 40' high flood of water wiped out many of the ranches and much of Wickenburg. The remains of some of those ranch buildings can still be seen today, and we observed them on our trails.
I had a shady campsite under a huge cottonwood tree that overlooked the riverbed and surrounding mountains. The meals were catered, and we were treated to BBQ ribs and chicken, prime rib and lobster tail, roast pork loin, individually made omelets.....you get the picture....it was all first class. The week was planned with skits around the evening bonfires, songs song by local songwriters and poets, much fun conversations and laughter, beautiful well-trained horses, and a daily fashion show as the riders and horses were decked out in beautiful attire for the rides and evening meals. One night was designated "Bling Night" for dinner, and one almost needed sunglasses as we had our Happy Hour adult beverages and observed all the decked out cowgirls!
The trails took us through desert cactus and blossoms, up rocky hills, and across the Hassayampa River many times, which was a treat for thirsty horses. My palomino, Bartles and Jaymes proved to be the trailhorse that I appreciate, and carried me safely over the 5 trails we chose. There was an official photographer for the week, and she thought Bart was a pretty boy, and took many pictures of him....including one that she had enlarged, framed in a wood and barb wire frame, and had displayed on an easel with all the proofs!
So I have safely returned...my "new" 2006 Ford diesel 4x4 crew cab was awesome...towing my trailer easily over the mountain passes though Yarnell. I was a dusty, pooped cowgirl when I got home last night, and Bart seemed happy to be home in his pen....about 70 pounds lighter and up a notch on his backcinch. I left him snoozing and brought the trailer home. I now have the sheets washed and bed remade, trailer emptied and cleaned, and will now get the propane tanks filled and bring the trailer back to the ranch to drop off.....until the next time! We are already discussing a trip to Grooms Creek next month....and I can't wait. LOVE this horse-camping and the great friends that share the rides!