I just got back from a visit to the Chief Joseph Appaloosa Trail Ride, an annual event (this was the 43rd) that covers a 100-mile segment of the 1,300-mile Nez Perce War Trail. The first installment begins at Wallowa Lake near Joseph, Oregon, and the final one ends in the Bearpaw Mountains of Montana, near the Canadian border. This year's route crosses the Lolo area of the Bitterroot Mountains, which happens to be A) one of the most remote sections of any state in the lower 48, and B) the area that the Lewis and Clark expedition nearly didn't survive over 200 years ago, on its journey to the Pacific. The country remains essentially unchanged since then, still primitive, wild, and beyond easy reach of the outside world.
About 200 riders set out to make this year's trek over some of the most rugged terrain North America has to offer. For some, the ride will be the adventure of a lifetime. Others will wish they'd never decided to undertake it. You really don't know who's tough and resourceful, and who's not, until you put them into this kind of riding/camping environment. This year's participants will ride about 20 miles a day, set up a new campsite each night, then saddle up at dawn the next day and do it all over again--for five days in a row.
While I've been on previous editions of this long-standing trail ride, I didnt' get to go with the riders making this year's trek--just got to visit their assembly camp about a 2.5 hour drive from our ranch. Their anticipation was palpable, and made me wish I got to ride along this year instead of coming back to my regular work week.
Have you ever ridden a horse for 20 miles a day? When and where? Would you have wanted to do it again for four more days?
Just curious as to whether this kind of riding sounds appealing to anyone other than those hardy regulars who undertake it every August while keeping a tradition alive.