Time and days are blurring together once again. I find myself happiest in seasons like this and now is no exception.
There’s a different energy at the ranch this year. Last summer Mike worked for Dave. In the off season Dave and Michelle sold the business to Mike. Now Dave works for Mike. Somehow everybody is happier now. Dave’s strengths are in working with people outside, not running a business, and now he gets to do just that. Mike and his nephew/business partner Adam have packed the place out with Smithwicks. There’s at least ten of them at the ranch now. There’s also an interesting lady named Kathy who somehow ended up here for the summer. She left a note on Mike’s door to let him know that the refridgerator light was out. There’s no electricity at the ranch and the fridge runs off propane. Cory’s here too which has been awesome. Alicia is back for the summer, her sister has been here for over a week. More energy, good energy, just lots of it.
So after I renewed my CPR and First Aid certification, online, in 45 minutes… I became official and capable in the eyes of the Forest Service and insurance company. I love it because my expertise in first aid is significantly greater than anything I could learn in a basic first aid class. And CPR stuff has changed recently, so that’s easy enough to get caught up with online, and since I’ve actually performed CPR on somebody, I don’t exactly need to practice on a dummy. The joke of it all though is that somebody could acquire their CPR and Basic First Aid certifications for their first time in the same manner that I did and be wholly incompetent when it comes to real life situations.
The following day I led my first ride by myself, a trio of lesbians who were fantastic. It felt good and scary at the same time, holding the most responsibility I’ve had in six years since I last guided people down the river. Gnarly shit happenes in both contextes, and your job as a guide is to remain calm, cool, collected, and competent. I’m good at it, but having six years of rust to scratch off gave me a bit of concern. It’s felt good guiding again though, and I’m proud that I’ve learned enough about wrangling in the past year that I’m trusted to lead groups into the wilderness.
The next day we had a five day pack trip coming out of the high country. I was leading a ride in the afternoon on the ranch and didn’t think I was going to have to drive to the trailhead but realized things had changed when i saw the van still parked returning to the corral. Dosha and Brianne, Mike’s mother and niece, helped with the horses and informed me that something’s wrong. She said I hope they’re joking but I don’t think they are, walk the custies back and I’ll tell you later. Cory then calls the ranch line, coming back from the airport with Alicia’s sister, I tell her something’s wrong, I don’t know what. “What’s wrong?” I told you I don’t know. Just c’mon back.
Turns out Dave had to shoot a horse. C’mon ladies why all the mystery? That stuff happens. Now Cory’s driving back freaked out. After just completing the last and toughest difficult section of the five day trip but still above treeline, Yarrow, first in line of a three horse pack string, stepped his back leg over the lead rope of the second horse, Arco. This happened when they were stopped for a reason, and horses hate ropes under their legs or tail. Arco must have raised his head, the rope then freaked Yarrow out, he took off running, and the two horses behind him decided to run with him. They’re tied together using hay twine, and the idea is that this is a saftey device in situations like this, but since Arco and Spike ran right along they never put tension on they hay twine to break it. A rocky trail above treeline downhill with packs isn’t a place to run horses, and Arco suffered a compound fracture of one of his legs. Since horses do everything on their legs, including sleep, it’s impossible to mend a broken leg without physically suspending the horse off the ground for the duration of the healing process. This usually costs more than the horse is worth and the horse will never be the same. Then consider the aspect that they’re five miles into the wilderness, and there’s no way this horse is ever going to make it out much less get healed. Dave got Arco as far off the trail as he could and then put a bullet in his skull to end his misery.
Something exciting has happened every day, as is such in life where the mundane is a mission, like procuring drinking water for example. We went whitewater rafting on Monday, saw a bear in a tree next to the river, and then saw a bear at the ranch that evening. A few days later, relaxing on the deck waiting to lead the afternoon ride, I hear six gunshots come from the direction that our morning ride is in. It doesn’t take six shots to kill a horse, and we have bear and mountain line on the ranch. I grab my .44, some extra ammunition, and haul ass across the dirt toward where I see riders. By the time I get there three of them are riding down the hill while Mike is walking sans horse. What, did you get pissed at Chisel? Turns out they came across a ginormous rattlesnake, Chisel spooked and gave Mike an E ticket ride, eventually bucking him and almost falling on top of him as Mike found himself eye to eye with the rattler. I probably would have killed the snake six times too. Chisel took off running, Mike’s back and arm were hurt, and we had to find a panicked horse before he hurt himself.
Our mounted and vehicular search party turned up nothing, but when Barb came back from her morning ride she found Chisel waiting at the gate saddled and unmounted. She brought him back and everything was okay.
I strongly considered going back to Vegas for the first event of the Epic Poker League a few days ago. No rake and $650k added per event is cool, but the way to make a living at poker is to game select. When the top 252 tournament professionals in the world are invited, and I’m at the bottom of the list, it means I’m the fish. Granted I think I’m better than a lot of these guys, but I bet they do too. Putting up twenty dimes to play against superstars on television isn’t smart business unless there’s outside incentive to do so. The added money is nice, but I don’t think it’s enough. Thanks to the (GFY) Department of Justice there isn’t endorsement opportunity anymore, but there is strong rumors of online poker being legislated in the States by the end of the year. If that’s the case then the EPL members are going to be the ones getting deals, and if that happens the league has a place to recoup the millions that it’s dumping into this first season.
I finally realized that since I didn’t want to leave the ranch in the first place, I would also know that I could go busto and fly back to the ranch, and that’s not the mindest to be entering a main event against studs with. I’ve got a decent chance of showing up for the one in September, but we’ll see. Life feels pretty good out here.
Peace and good luck,
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