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Island in the Sky attracts 48 riders

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Photo submitted Carrie Gardner of Eckert was one of 48 riders to participate in this year's Island in the Sky trail ride, held Aug. 5-7 on Grand Mesa.

The Women's Surface Creek Saddle Club (WSCSC) staged its bi-yearly competitive trail ride on the Grand Mesa, Aug. 5-7. Forty-eight riders from Colorado, New Mexico and Texas participated in the nationally sanctioned NATRC (North American Trail Rider Conference) event. The event was permitted by the USDA Forest Service.

Many riders show up early to begin the weekend party, arriving in the rain on Thursday afternoon. The heavy cloud cover and the rain drops continued off and on Thursday and Friday but miraculously stopped for the veterinarian check-in that began at 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Fortunately "Mother Nature" cooperated and Saturday only about five minutes of the eight-hour ride had rain. Sunday was a mix of clouds with occasional glimpses of the sun but the rain stayed away.

Camp fires were seen smoldering all weekend as most NATRC competitors, WSCSC members and their husbands are a tough bunch. Members of the WSCSC who were riding or volunteering were all camped together and affectionally labeled "The Grand Mesa Mafia." Eight local riders competed in the event, Carrie Derco, Carrie Gardner, Isoble Hertlein, Krisite LaValley, Johnnie Lyons, Judy Mason, Jo Oatman and Syndi Scott.

There were at least forty-five volunteers, as it takes nearly as many volunteers as riders to put on this event. The members of the WSCSC and hard-working husbands who came out in force to help were; Carolynn Andersen, Vicki Civello, Rose Cox, Kari Durfee, Juleen Feazell, Brandy Ferganchick, Betty Garrett, Holly Jones, Viki Mangano, Paula Mitchell, Lorie Molitor, Jennifer Nichols, Carol Nudell, Syndi Scott, Melanie Son, Gwen Williams, Neil Gardner, Jimmy LaValley, Mike Mason, Dan Scott, and Greg and Weldy Feazell. Baked goods of cookies, cakes and pies were donated by club members unable to attend but enjoyed by everyone all weekend.

All meals were provided to volunteers and competitors thanks in large part to the generosity of local business in Delta and Mesa counties. Chuck Smith was the cook who traveled from Farmington, New Mexico in his very large RV volunteering his time to make sure all had some delicious hot food.

Prizes awarded on Sunday afternoon were some of the best awards given this year thanks to the generous donations of local business. Nancy Baker and Amy Daniles, from Cedaredge, helped hand out the awards on Sunday afternoon. The three Sweepstakes awards were extra special this year as they were tack/mounting boxes hand crafted by Victor Hansford of Cedaredge. Bobbi Hansford made a quilt that was awarded to Kay Gunckel, from Longmont, Colorado, for Kay's multiple displays of Outstanding Sportsmanship during the weekend.

Local riders receiving awards, Carrie Derco, sixth place Novice Lightweight Horsemanship and her horse, Guron, second place horse award. A very good accomplishment for Carrie and Guron as this was their first NATRC ride. Kristie LaValley was fourth place Novice Lightweight Horsemanship. Johnnie Lyons took home second place Novice Lightweight and her horse, Sixes Peppy Lady, took third place horse. Carrie Gardner was the big winner taking first place Novice Heavyweight and her horse SAS's My Future is Spots placed third horse. Isobel Hertlein and her horse both took home first place in the one day Novice B ride.

The Women's Surface Creek Saddle Club would like to thank all the wonderful volunteers, which includes many husbands, family members and friends. Also the generous donations for prizes and meals. Kudos go out to all.

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Surface Creek
Island in the Sky
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