Barbara Ray started the ay with a disappointing run with Maverick. It boded badly for the rest of us as the sheep were sluggish and difficult all the way around. She finished without a shed and pen. So early for the eating indifferent sheep, everyone watching thought the sheep would only get worse as the day wore on. Dorey, two dogs later, got around well. I should have been more selective of collared sheep at the shed. I had one that brought me real trouble to the pen and at the pen. I could not pull it off. In the afternoon, Ron Enzeroth did finish with his dependable Mick to tie Dorey’s score. Quite an accomplishment to run well in the suffocating heat, and it was. Coming the sizzling weather made Dennis Gelling’s winning run the more remarkable, ten points ahead of Ron and me.
I was a miner for gold and I’m getting old.
The awards ceremony is a big show at Soldier Hollow, summoning up the olympic past of the venue. The Salt Lake Pipe Band was spectacular, marching down the brown grass, sage brush hillside in full kilt, with bright bits on drums and pipes, sparkling, and the music commanding the hillside. Vista vista and vista. They piped all the medal winners bringing moment.
The Canadian National Anthem was played for Dennis Gelling’s and Tess’s win, but I got a charge from it too.
We drove to Vernal, Utah, using the daylight remaining, overnighted and drove on to Meeker this morning. Over one of the hills, this brig red sun appeared, there must be a fire west, to cause such has, but it was very pretty.
Everyone, except those already qualified, gets a little anxious on the final day of qualifying at Soldier Hollow. There are but fifteen spots. Lots of good handlers and dogs are vying for them.
Wyatt Fleming started the day with an 84 that lead for a while until Dennis Gellings and Tess laid one down for a 91. The prospects for runners that followed diminished as the hot weather overtook the trial. Then a few made it happen. Beverly Lambert and Nan delivered a very good run in the sweltering afternoon, for an 80. Barbara Ray ran an 85 with Maverick, both changing around the leader board for the top five
Dorey ran in possession of the course, Her pen work was her forte, dashing from foot to foot and checking my side too, just in case I was going to let it down, She scored a 90 at three o’clock in the afternoon, not leading but close.
Tomorrow she runs third, Howell is sixth. Everyone is eager for double gathering and the big show.
No one here got up that early, lingering over a perfect cup of Nicaraguan coffee. I had drawn up at mid day. These extreme trials in the west cannot be discussed without the temperature weighing in. The cold mornings, that tempt the neophyte to turn on the furnace, silly, because the day became the furnace itself–so hot, well before noon.
Scott Glen laid one down early in the day, scoring 90–8:00 am to be precise, the first run of the day, Everything that came afterwards was difficult, sheep challenging dogs, dqs, retires. Angie Coker-Sells ran a 79. Ron Enzeroth did too.
Sometimes, in a sheepdog career, someone says something that meets all the work done to date, that gratifies all aspirations, all goals, all focus for the last thirty years. Such was the case today. Tommy Wilson marched across the back of the lower grandstands to where I waited to exhaust my group. I saw him. He marched purposefully. He came to me with arms outstretched. A hug. He said he had watched Dorey’s run from the VIP Centre and loved it. That I had let her go like a sheep, with the sheep. That I had no stops and starts. That she had taken care of the sheep but most of all that I had let her. I tried to tell him what a high compliment that meant to me. What an honour his comments had been. I don’t know if he knew. Don’t know if he understood. These are emotional moments in sheepdog trialling. Where a respected peer cites admiration for work. Work to which I have applied myself to longer than I can recall. Dorey didn’t catch Scot Glen and Alice but she ran a respectable 86 at high noon, finishing second on the day.
Later in the evening we went to the Tree Room at Sundance. The wine was Kosta Browne, the food was great and the company better.
Everyone congregated for the much anticipated handlers meeting at Soldier Hollow. Same old same old. The remarkable temperature differences between morning and afternoon load the running order—nearly freezing in the morning and ninety in the afternoon. Coupled with the altitude, a very challenging trial.
The sheep were thoroughbreds–long legged fit, racing machines. Big efficient strides. Radar on for the uninspiring dog. They have a story to tell about every dog they encounter. Such a joy to run on range finewools.
Bev, Barbara, and I drove to the Zermatt, a transplanted Swiss Hotel in Midway, for pastries, well worth a drive. The Swiss would have been proud of the croissants, Danish ,and sweets for later in the day, Utah notwithstanding.
The first two runners of the day led the running–Bill Berhow with his veteran, Coal, and followed in order and points by Angie Coker-Sells and Soot–a clean flanking, efficient bitch, no nonsense. Afterwards, the running was difficult, with retires and grips to DQ abounding. In their first appearance at Soldier Hollow, Mary Minor and Feist had a great start, which wound down to a grip in the last portion of the cross drive. Barbara Ray had a respectable run around with Stella to clock out in the ring. The running was wonderfully informative, so intriguing to watch.
Howell ran well around the course, only to have his handler lose her mind in the shedding ring–sheep out of the ring. I had two full minutes to pen and could not manage it, not after bungling the shed so successfully, putting the sheep on edge. Still his score held up to lead the day.
I have been having some trouble with my onboard Onan generator. Call me a blond, but when the thing is haywire enough not to stop priming on its own, I have to wonder where the gas is going. Danger. Danger. Calls to Onan had produced offers of a repair date after I was back in Canada. But one resourceful certified Onan technician called to say he had a job in Meeker and could look at the generator before. Jubilation. He spotted the problem, an internal computer gone south, and made a sacred promise to order the part and bring it to Meeker next week when he had to go to a job in Steamboat Springs. Too bad for whoever wanted the maple syrup, as I gave it to him. I love this man.
Fishing guides would have been cheated out of there own, if Roger Trout had not been a guide In one of America’s richest trout rivers. the White. We went upstream, to a babbling part of the river that was the meeting waters of a few branches. The water was cold. The footing difficult. He pushed me onward in my red icebreaker skirt. A demanding guide. I have never measured the success of a fishing trip by the number of fish caught, but his trade relies on ensuring clients catch them. And catch them I did— six or seven jewell like trouts which swam happily back for more, and a pair of big ones slipped away, Of course, the biggest fish got away. But this one stayed for the photo op, in all his glistening, sparkly glory. I wish I could have sauteed one in a bit of butter, not so much a sportsman as a foodie.
It was too hot to sit around so I jumped behind the wheel of my trusty pickup and rode westward to Soldier Hollow, following through on a forced affair with the open road. Deer, elk and antelope traverse this route at night, much better in broad daylight, at ninety five degrees, than smashing in the front of a perfectly good pickup truck with wild game.
Everyone is Soldier Hollow bound, for the big show.
My route went eastward to the Thousand Island border crossing and drive that took south of the Great Lakes. As one raised on the north shore of the lakes, the creeks and rivers that flowed northward to our shared lakes always seem a contravention of all things natural. At Lake Erie, they could be seen coursing to their lake, bottlenecked for the violence of Niagara Falls and onto our Lake Ontario, a congregation at Kingston for a surge to the Atlantic, down the St Lawrence River. We will have watched that water at Kingston Sheep Dog Trials, perhaps without a thought of its origin.
Once a day of driving is behind you, all thoughts of turning around dissipate. You are committed. I stopped for the night in Ohio, making an early start to pass Chicago at the least traffic infected time. It worked.
Why there is no fanfare at the Mississippi will always be a puzzle for me until someone does something about it. A river whose name is uttered with similar reverence to Amazon, Nile, Danube Yangtse, MacKenzie—no lights, no special brass section playing. It was somber this time, with dull chilly weather and a rain storm passed over just before I did. The water roiled along, oblivious to all the chaos it would meet at the Gulf of Mexico, where Harvey was on the rampage.
For a Sunday, one would have thought the traffic on I-80 would be light. It was always heavy, all the way past Lincoln Nebraska. No breaks for the driver. The plains were well watered and showing how bountiful they be. Iowa was top heavy with corn. I nearly made it to Wyoming in one day, stopping twenty miles short. Next morning, I turned south off the interstate at Laramie, Wyoming, winding down an untravelled road for me, to Steamboat Springs, Craig, and on to Meeker. A breached credit card needed remedying and I needed altitude for blood building in the dogs. Lake Avery, up towards the flattops from Meeker, took me to 8,000 feet, the perfect place for a day’s respite and fortification from within.
I think Joe could have tried a little harder on our split but he claimed not to understand which group I wanted him to turn on ending our chances at making the final. Still we did better than I had anticipated and I’ve had a good time.
I was running the wrong kind of dogs for these sheep. I’ve had dogs that would have suited them very well. If I again have that kind of dog I might even be tempted to make this trip once more.
The running in the semis got off to s really strong start with s perfect run my Serge Vanderbilt sweep and progressed generally downward on a slow trajectory of deteriorating sheep. There were some great runs all day to remind people it could still be done. I was especially impressed by Michael Gallagher’s young dog who had a great go. Will be a strong final tomorrow.
Went to the gala this evening for some of the best food thus far this trip.
It’s late, so this will be short. You’ve all no doubt seen the highlights as the day progressed. The only one to get through was Derek. Amanda had an ok morning run with a missed panel, but there were too many runs with nothing missed for it to hold up.
Nan and I had an independent sort of ewe that out-foxed us and we had not much. Did get the second panel, which was nice after our Belgian trip. Nan ran well, but not our day. Joe tries tomorrow. Amanda and Monty and Ron and Sky as well. Ron had a very good trip around with Shadow but a poor shed and no single.
All and all the US team didn’t shine, but we all had respectable runs and good excuses.
Rainy morning picked up considerably when Amanda texted to say she wanted to go the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. I picked her up at her hotel and we made the 45K joint in about an hour. Traffic was very slow in the city and by the time we got parked and to the Museum we had over an hour wait in the not inconsiderable rain.
I waited in line while Amanda did a little light shopping which happily included rijksmuseum tickets. So we spent a few hours looking at some of the greatest art in the western world. Then we drove across the city center to the old part of Amsterdam to a famous chicory shop and lunch.
After I dropped Amanda back at her room I was back to my hotel to drop off a few purchases and pick up my dogs for the handler parade through Hoodsweg. It was really nice. The village sidewalks were full of people clapping and wishing us well. It was a 2 mike walk and then a good part of an hour standing for speeches followed by a half mile walk back to our cars. So we were glad to get dinner at field 1.
The day finished st 8:00 with the brief handler’s meeting on field 2 where Ron, Amanda and I all run tomorrow. The running starts st 7:00 so by the time you all get up our dates will be sealed. The field is big, very green, perfectly trimmed and flat as a pancake. The sheep looked fit and happy and not dissimilar to what we’ve been running although less multicolored.
Things went a bit better for us today. I’m still missing second drive gates with alarming frequency but my dogs are performing better. Now I just need to step up a bit more.
Derek had a really good go on field 2 scoring 109. I haven’t broken 100 yet but I’ve hit a couple of second drive gates so I’m happy.
We’re running the end of this to a standard so they can try and finish by 5:00. They aren’t going to make it as I’m writing at 4:00 and this field at least has at least 15 runners to go. I know very few of them and so am never sure where we are in the order.
I think Derek and Scott are in contention for the double lift but the computation is incredibly complex and we won’t really know until they publish the results.
I’m leaving as soon as I run Nan to drive to my hotel at the World Trial venue. We don’t need to be there until tomorrow afternoon but I’d as soon get there now as drive it tomorrow.