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Spring Ride History

          Methow Valley Annual Spring Trail Ride history

      North Central Washington will again play host to a relaxing weekend of riding and fellowship on the last weekend in April.  Situated near Twisp, the event, commonly referred to as “The Spring Ride” marks the 31st year in 2015 and may be the winner in longevity of rides.  Betty Wagoner organized the first Spring Trail Ride out of Pateros in 1984.  It was just a day ride and about 100 people attended.  The proceeds from this ride were donated to the newly forming Backcountry Horsemen of Washington organization. Wagoner, with the help of Ken Wilcox, then began the development of the Methow Valley Chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen.  The chapter was ratified in 1986.
      The following year the ride took place out of French Creek and it was an overnight trail ride and in1986, the 3rd Spring Trail Ride was held in Elbow Coulee, with about 90 riders attended. Again in1987 and in 1988 the ride was in Elbow Coulee, and 95 riders attended, netting $250.00; half of which was donated to BCH of WA.
      In 1989, the 6th Spring Trail Ride was moved to the Beaver Creek Campground, located just outside of the town of Twisp.  This area would accommodate more people with campers and trailers and affords not only suitable camping, fresh stock water but lots of riding areas for those that come early and are able to stay late.
      In 2004, the Methow Valley Chapter celebrated the 20th Annual Spring Trail Ride.  Folks attended from not only Washington, but Oregon, Idaho and Montana.  This is one of (if not the) oldest continuing horse rides held in Washington State.
     Chapter members spend the weekend prior to the ride cleaning up the campground and removing wire from old fence lines.  Each year up to six truck loads of wire have been removed from the area of the planned route.  

    The events begin on Friday evening with registrations, shirt sales and a Dutch oven pot luck.  Participants bring their ovens and ingredients for a favorite recipe and cook in an area set aside with multiple old iron hot water tanks that have been cut in half lengthwise to accommodate briquettes.  The process is teaching for some and learning for others.  Stories, special tools and recipes are shared in the course of the cooking.  Saturday starts early with the recording of those that are left to register and coffee around the campfire.  The riders leave at a designated time, behind the lead riders. Although the trail is marked, one needs to be aware of the trail rider courtesy and remain behind the leaders.  A coffee stop with outhouses and friendly faces greet the riders about two hours out… a welcome site in the sometimes temperamental spring weather.  This is also the site of the third poker station and those that participate in the game obtain that card here.  Another hour or so up the trail will find the trucks, trailers and worker persons buzzing around and you find you have arrived at the lunch spot!  Find a spot to tie your horse, who is pretty agreeable to that idea at this point, a wash station for horsy hands and you are lined up ready for the meal.  The picnic lunch menu varies year to year but is always welcomed.  Lunch is pretty well unrushed and you are only expected to be in front of the drag riders to allow the poker people to know when they are finished with their task.  There will be one more poker station on the trip back to camp, and another in camp consisting of a dart board with cards mounted on it, requiring a great deal of skill to stab just the card you need. 
     Meanwhile, back at camp, members have been busy setting up the tables and articles for the silent auction. This is held in the afternoon and is great entertainment as well as an opportunity to prevail on some of the donated items.  Some guests bring items for their donation to the auction and proceed to buy other things as well.  As the auction is ending, the huge pot luck dinner is beginning with the declaration of the poker winners and other pertinent announcements.  What camping trip would be complete without the campfire and lots of cowboy songs!  In the grand tradition of the old west, unplanned and spontaneous performers grace the circle around the fire and only the laughter rises above the singing. 
     Early Sunday, smells from the buckaroo breakfast lure folks from the warming campfire to the awning covered cooking area.  A real meal deal and you can either return to the fire, go for a ride or, those that must, prepare to return home. 
     The Methow Valley Spring Trail Ride offers a extraordinary experience for horsemen wanting it all crammed into one weekend…. But, come early and stay late!