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REER – Fire and Smoke - Update

September 10, 2020

Dear REER Family:

This morning, the skies looked “normal.”  They had the usual gray overcast for this time of year.  By this afternoon, though, the density of smoke had steadily increased.  As I write this letter, at about 6:00 pm, visibility has decreased to less than a half mile. We are grateful for the decision we made yesterday morning.

Some of our REER Family have left their homes and found shelter with others.  Orick Rodeo Grounds Campground is open and will accommodate anyone needing shelter for their horses. Several club members offer safe shelter.

We have finished the “shutdown process” for Redwood Ride II. We had everything in place for the ride and will likely not recover any of the fees, expenses, etc. We are now moving toward an almost normal cleanup, which will likely be delayed due to the smoke and risk of fire.

Several people have offered to help defray the loss experienced by the club, for which we are grateful.  If you would like to help, please renew your membership in REER or join.  I attach a membership form.  It allows for an extra donation, which we would appreciate.

Other news: I received an email from Marci Cook, announcing the cancellation of the Lake Sonoma Ride.:

We notified AERC last night that Lake Sonoma Ride is cancelled. Park Management continues to suspend special events & camping. The recent Walbridge Fire damaged trails on south side of lake where the old ride finished, and evacuations closed all roads in the area. We are all living in a little bit of limbo as the west coast continues to fight too many new & continuing fires.

For now, please stay home if you can, and stay safe.  If you need assistance, please call: Jim’s cell: 707-616-1955, Home: 707-839-7744 or email.

Thank you for being part of this truly caring community.

Stay safe, care for your loved ones.

Jim

 

REER – Redwood Ride II (aka Cuneo Creek) shut down.

September 9, 2020

Dear REER Family:

We awoke this morning to blood red skies.  At 10:00, the skies are still dark.  What light there is has a strange orange-yellow cast.  Road reports indicate that two principal access routes, Highways 199 and 101, are both closed due to fires.  Some of our key volunteers have called to let us know that they are either evacuating or preparing to do so.

So, after several weeks of determined struggle to put on the ride – changing venue, etc. – we are giving up.  Not because we would not persist.  That’s who we are – endurance riders!  Rather, it is because our first priority – always – is the safety of our riders and their precious four-legged partners.

A few people have already made the journey.  We are working with them to find safe routes home.  The Park Service is bringing their personnel out of harm’s way.  Many have evacuated their homes.

For those who have come here or who need safe shelter, our little equestrian community has the capacity to take in horses.  We are safe, and – because of our coastal location – unlikely to need to move.  Our air quality is still OK, despite the overcast skies.

Our policy at REER is to not cash riders’ entry checks until after the ride.  We will not cash anyone’s entry check.  We will, though, pay those who have already made expenditures for us.  We do not expect to recover the fees we have already paid.  The members of REER’s board understood this and unanimously said that we must place concern for health and safety above any other.

We profoundly apologize for the inconvenience that our decision will cause.  We hope that you will understand and support us next year, as we put on what we know will be three wonderful rides.

For now, please stay home and stay safe.  If you have already traveled and/or need assistance, please call: Jim’s cell: 707-616-1955, Home: 707-839-7744 or email.

Thank you for being part of this truly caring community.

Stay safe, care for your loved ones.

Jim

 

September 8, 2020

REER Redwood Ride II (aka. Cuneo Creek Ride) – Update

Dear REER Family:

The ride is still on!  (It is in Redwood NATIONAL PARK, not a national forest.)

It has a few spaces, if you would like to ride but have not yet sent in an entry.  Please respond by email or call Donna: 707-498-3221.

Air quality at Orick is not the best, but it has consistently had green to yellow rating by Fire.airnow.gov (reference Orick, CA as the location).  A fire burning about 40 miles inland (“Red Salmon complex,” northeast of Willow Creek in the Trinity Alps Wilderness area) has been the source of some smoke.  Another fire recently started burning northwest of Willits, CA.  (“Oak fire,” about 135 miles southeast by air).  That fire has had Hwy 101 north of Willits closed for much of the day.

HWY 299 is open but with some construction delays and some smoke near Willow Creek and Junction City.  Under the present conditions, I-5 and HWY 299 may be the best choice for those coming from southeast of the ride.  Please check with Cal Trans ( https://roads.dot.ca.gov/, 1-800-427-7623) for current road conditions. 

Please allow adequate time and put on adequate water.

Weather-wise, not much has changed.  Weather conditions may still be humid and warm.  Today, temperatures reached into the low 80’s, but the forecast is for cooling through Saturday, with high temperatures in the 70’s likely on ride day.  We will put out extra water, including at locations in addition to those of the August 15 ride.  Some natural water springs and creeks still flow and will likely on ride day.  Still, plan to pack extra water for yourself and conserve water on the trail (use streams for scooping).

When you arrive, prepare for COVID-19 screening and procedures.  Humboldt County has one of the lowest incidence rates of COVID-19 infection in the state (320 per 100,000 residents, in contrast to 1,841 per 100,000 state-wide and 1,914 for the nation as a whole).  Facial covering and social distancing rules are strict and are a condition of our event authorization by the county.

Not much other news.  The Head Ranger at Redwood National Park has discussed the possibility of starting an equestrian volunteer unit at Redwood National and State Parks, similar to the one we have at Humboldt Redwoods State Park (Cuneo Creek).  If interested, please contact me by email. 

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and veterinarians who give selflessly of their time.  We are grateful to have the opportunity to enjoy a ride in these strange times. We could not do it without you.

Stay safe, be well.  Love your horse and look out for your neighbor.

Jim                                   

 

September 1, 2020

Dear REER Family:

So far, all good news as far as the ride is concerned.  We received a permit from Redwood National Park – and a bill.  As soon as our payment clears, we should have the final permit in hand. Then to AERC’s Sanctioning Committee and, from there, to the insurance agency for certificates.  And so on.  The real news is that the ride is on!

Now, here’s the rest of the story. We will NOT ride at Cuneo Creek (I believe I said that before, but now it is for sure).  Instead, we will ride at Redwood National Park in Orick, CA – the same location as the August 15 Redwood Ride.  In fact, we will just about do a repeat of the August 15 ride.  Why?  First, California State Parks and Recreation has not yet opened state park campgrounds for group camping and does not seem likely to do so any time soon.  So, no Cuneo Creek campground; find a new venue. Second, Redwood National Park is smaller than Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and the trail options are limited. So, a one-day ride.

Also, because of all of the extras needed to meet COVID-19 regulations, extra expense and fewer riders, the cost per rider goes up.  REER does not seek to make money on its rides, and the club’s financial reserves are limited.  The August 15 ride lost several thousand dollars, perhaps OK for one ride but not for more.  Based on that ride, we have a budget for this one.  It says that, to break even, we must receive $180 from each rider.

We will have the usual: Nice campground with hot showers, hot meal on Saturday night, etc.  We will also have the COVID-19 procedures: Screening at arrival, riders doing for themselves what volunteers may have done in the past, wearing of facial covering (masks) and social distancing (no meetings, no potlucks, no vet cards, no on-site registration).  The trails will be the same, beautiful and “spiritual” single track through magnificent redwoods, carefully prepared for our use by the National Park Service.  We expect to have HAM Radio coverage again, for communication and on-trail spotting.  We will put out water at a few additional places.

Dr. Chapman and I have redrawn the “Rules of the Ride.”  A copy is attached.  If you have entered and plan to ride, please study them carefully.  We have tried to make everything clear. Maybe we have done so… 

Donna is calling everyone registered to ride, to have a virtual pre-ride meeting.  She also has a limited number of corrals available, at $25 per night.  Please let her know if you would like to reserve one.

I am also finalizing volunteer assignments.  If you intend to volunteer, please watch for your assignment.  If you would like to volunteer but have not yet done so (we need your help), please let me know.  I will get an assignment that you will enjoy.  Volunteers camp for free and get a nice meal on Saturday. We mark trails and put out water troughs this weekend, and set up camp next week.

Finally, please be aware that several of our family have been affected by the recent wildfires.  We have reports that a few have been entirely burned out.  Please reach out. They may need a place to stay or to keep their animals.

Be well, be safe.  Love your horse and respect your fellow riders.

Jim                                              

 

REER: Update on Cuneo Creek Ride – New location due to COVID-19

August 27, 2020

Dear REER Family:

Here’s the latest.  We received word this afternoon that we will have a permit for the fall REER ride.  No, not at Cuneo Creek.  Instead, at Redwood National Park in Orick, CA – for one day, September 12.

Cuneo Creek Horse Camp is still closed to group camping, as are all other State Parks campgrounds.  (Trails are open and a few individual campsite reservations are available, though.)  The State Park Service informed us that no group camping would be available in September and likely not soon afterward. So began the search for another venue for the REER September ride.

The good news:  The owners of the Orick Rodeo Grounds campground invited us to come there.  We will share space with a few other campers, but it will essentially be ours alone.  Redwood National Park’s administration also encouraged us.  Today, they called to tell us that they have approved our request and will issue a permit in time for us to have the ride. 

This change of venue means several changes over the traditional Cuneo Creek Ride.  Besides a change in location (a bit over an hour drive further north), it also means less trail.  Consequently, REER’s board has decided that the best thing would be a one-day ride, a repeat of the Redwood Ride: Redwood II.

Here’s another thing to consider.  Rider entry fees for the Redwood Ride fell short of covering ride expenses, many of which increased to meet COVID-19 regulations.  (REER does not seek to make a profit. We are an entirely volunteer organization, and we operate to only cover actual ride expenses.)  Rider entry fees for Redwood II will likely have a “COVID-19 Supplement.” 

We expect to complete the recap of Redwood Ride’s financial results by this weekend.  That will give a budget for the upcoming ride and tell how much the ride needs for its rider entry fee.  As soon as we know, I will send out another email to everyone, and we will post on REER’s website and Facebook page.

Please watch for emails to come; check the REER website and Facebook page.  Also, please listen for a telephone call, especially if you sent in an entry for Cuneo Creek or if your entry for the Redwood Ride did not make the cut.

We hope that all are safe from fires and COVID-19.  Be safe and be well.  Love your horse.

Jim

 

August 10, 2020

Dear REER family:

With the Redwood Ride less than a week away, we are still optimistic. We received the final permits today, and we have assurance that all trails will be open well before ride time.  We are still working on the best way to get 1,200 gallons of water up to the top of the mountain. All of this feels tight, but it seems to be working – due to the hard work of an excellent team of volunteers.  Thanks!!

Gail posted the final rider list on the club’s web site a few minutes ago.  We still don’t have the registry quite right, so the best way to reach the ride page is either through AERC’s link (on their calendar) or through Gail’s web site: http://www.hought.com/redwoodendurance-Redwood%20Ride.html.

For those who had hoped to make the list but did not, we apologize.  REER has had a policy of accepting all riders, but we found ourselves seriously restricted by the social distancing requirements of California.  We feel fortunate, though, to be the only AERC ride in California so far this season to get all necessary approvals.  We hope, of course, that a good experience with the Redwood Ride will result in easier regulatory approval for subsequent ones.

For those who wish, we are “rolling over” entries for those who did not get into the Redwood Ride to REER’s fall ride (Cuneo Creek).  We do not know, though, whether we it will go, as its venue may not be available.  As we get closer to the date (September 12-13), I will keep everyone posted.

For those who will ride this coming weekend, I ask that you please understand the restrictions we face and help us to meet them with a safe and enjoyable ride.  Most important, we must follow the rules on facial coverings, social distancing and hand washing/sanitizing.  Please understand that the success and the future of other endurance rides, as well as everyone’s health, depends on everyone’s cooperation and support. 

If you are riding or volunteering, please watch for emails with more details.

Again, many thanks for the support and understanding.  We all greatly appreciate it.

Jim

 

July 31, 2020

Dear REER Family:

I’ll make this letter brief.  No change!

With only two weeks until ride day, we still await the results of a late review of our permit to hold the ride.  Although we are optimistic about it, we cannot yet say for certain that the ride will actually happen.

Just the same, we are moving forward with preparations.  Donna has been holding “virtual pre-ride meetings.”  I have been organizing the team of volunteers.

As expected, we have inquiries, “If the ride does go, will I have a place?”  Even there is more uncertainty.  Humboldt County, the State’s authority, has asked us to significantly reduce the number of participants over what we would normally have.  AERC’s sanctioning committee has also limited the number of riders.  We don’t yet know what other authorities will require.  Under any possible scenario, though, we have more entries than the ride can accommodate.

In an earlier letter, I mistakenly said that REER club members would have preference.  That is not true.  It would violate AERC rules to do so.  We are giving preference only by date of entry, using the postmark dates on entry envelopes.

Please be aware that, if the ride does go, things will be different.  The ride itself will still follow the same beautiful trails through the old growth coastal redwoods – no change there.  Among required changes, we will screen all participants beforehand by telephone and again as they arrive.  That will include, among others, taking of body temperature with an infrared thermometer upon arrival.  We will also require the wearing of facial covering (masks) by all participants and volunteers.  Everyone must also sign a release of liability that includes possible COVID-19 infection. Go to this link.

Please know that we are working and doing our best to have this ride actually happen and to accommodate every rider who can be safely accommodated under the rules we have to follow.

More coming as things move forward. 

Take care – be well.

Jim

 

July 29, 2020

Dear REER Family:

Here’s a quick update on the status of the rides, Redwood and Cuneo Creek:

Cuneo Creek (September 12-13):   No change in status.  California State Parks Administration has not opened state campgrounds for group camping.  They have opened for individual camping, though.  Until they open group camping, we do not have the Cuneo Creek Horse Camp as a venue for the Cuneo Creek ride. 

Is the status likely to change? Will we have the ride?  These are the questions I am asked.  When I ask the same questions to the regional office of the State Parks Administration, they say “Not likely.”  They expect state campgrounds to remain closed to group camping for the duration of the 2020 season.  Like everything else, though, they say that could change.  We might also find another venue.

We have asked AERC to show the ride as open, and we are accepting ride entries.  If State Parks Administration does open group camping or we find another venue, we may have rider limits.  In that case, early entrants will have priority over later ones. If you wish to be included, I encourage you to send in your completed entry form (with signature and payment).  Please include a signed COVID-19 release as well.

As we go ahead, I will periodically send out a status update.  Please watch for my emails.  Check the REER webpage ( www.redwoodendurance.com) and Facebook page (Redwood Empire Endurance Riders).

Redwood Ride (August 15): Status still uncertain but optimistic.  We are going ahead with all preparations while we await rulings from administrative bodies. That will tell us how many riders the ride can accommodate or whether the ride can be put on at all.  We expect to have that information by the end of the week.  When we hear, I will send out another email, and we will post it on the REER website and Facebook page.

In the meantime, we have asked AERC to post the ride as full.  We have received enough entries to exceed the ride’s capacity under any likely scenario.  We cannot say who has a place in the ride and whose entry will be placed on a wait list, however.  It is possible that the ride may be able to accommodate as few as half of the entries already received.

Part of the limitations come from available campsites with adequate separation and part depend upon number of participants.  Humboldt County has authorized only actual participants – “No Spectators or General Audience Members.”  Given that we may reach a total participant limit, we ask that only riders and volunteers (with an actual job assignment) come to the ride.

Early arrivals:  Anyone desiring to arrive and camp before Friday should make reservations with the Orick Chamber of Commerce, who operate the Rodeo Ground (707-488-2885).  Payment must be made directly to them.  They can accept payment by credit card.

COVID-19 Changes: Compliance with county regulations and a desire to keep every rider and volunteer safe has led us to make significant changes to the way the ride will operate.  The following is a summary and partial list of the changes (more detailed rules will follow): 

1. Use of facial covering (masks): Humboldt County mandates that everyone at the event wear a mask whenever in any “public area.”  We have set the rule that everyone must wear a facial covering (mask) except when in their own camp (and at least 10 ft. distance from anyone not actually in their camp party) and except when actually mounted on a horse.  Humboldt County has approved these two exceptions.
2. Social distancing: The ride activities must be organized so as to ensure adequate social distance (12 ft. on ground and 25 ft. on a horse).  These rules will apply to organization of campsites, vet checks, etc.  I will send out more details on the way that vet lines will work, etc. in a later letter.  Important now, though, is organization of the campground.  To do that, we must know the following:

1. When the rider expects to arrive at the campground (Orick, CA Rodeo Ground)
2. Who will actually be in the rig at arrival and in the camp (riders, crew, etc.). Keep in mind that any non-rider must have a volunteer assignment in order to accompany a rider.  We need complete contact information and a signed COVID-19 release from accompanying individuals as well as riders.
3. Overall dimensions of the rig (trailer plus truck) and which side to tie/pen horse(s). Spaces will be designated by overall length of rig (trailer plus truck).  Long rig (50 ft.) spaces will be limited.

3. Screening of Participants: We will screen all participants (riders and volunteers) upon their arrival.  This screening will include the following:

1. Answering questions in a questionnaire designed to determine whether the individual has any symptoms of COVID-19 and to determine where the individual has been that could be a possible place of contact for COVID-19 transmission.
2. Check of body temperature with a non-contact infrared thermometer. Any individual displaying an elevated body temperature will be given a digital fever thermometer and asked to do a personal temperature check.

I appreciate the burdensome nature of these changes and know that not everyone may agree with them.  They are a condition of participation in this ride, however, and they have been set by the authorities who authorize us to put on the ride.  I also appreciate the fact that the COVID-19 epidemic has become highly politicized.  Therefore, I ask all participants: Leave your politics at home!  We are doing this so that every participant may have an enjoyable time in one of the most amazing places on earth, the giant redwoods.

As we move forward, I will send out additional updates by email.  They will also be posted on Facebook and on the REER website.

Take care – be safe and be well.

Jim

 

July 21, 2020

Dear REER Family:

We have some good news.

REDWOOD RIDE: This past weekend, we received the necessary approvals for the Redwood Ride.  The ride is now sanctioned by AERC and ready to proceed.  All that remains are the usual: Recruiting and organizing the volunteer effort, obtaining veterinarian support, arranging emergency and community services and campground, preparation and marking of trails, administration and records, etc. 

This year, we have an entirely new concern, COVID-19.  We will follow the “non-spectator event” plan approved by Humboldt County and AERC.  It contains a significant number of changes and additional procedures from our normal way of putting on an endurance ride. 

It also limits the total number of attendees, volunteers and crew, not just riders.  We may be approaching those limits, if we have not already reached them.  If you wish to ride, please submit your ride entry request immediately.  By mail, please, with a check enclosed.

We need every rider, crew, or volunteer to understand the changes.  We have made a commitment – which we will honor – to ensure social distancing, wearing of facial covering, etc.  Some of these procedures may seem burdensome or even intrusive, possibly measuring of temperature with an infrared thermometer of all arriving participants, for instance.  If you intend to come to the ride, please understand that we must have cooperation with these new procedures.  My next letter will contain specifics, and we intend to call every registered rider during the week before the ride.

Also, please be aware that, despite our best efforts to minimize the possibility of COVID transmission, this will not be a totally risk-free event.  Other groups may use the campground (rent strings or another camping group, for example), and the park is open to other users.  The ride date is one of the most popular for other park users.  Many attendees may also come from COVID “hotspots” and places where people have not followed transmission mitigation behaviors. Although we will do what we can, much depends upon people’s actual behavior, and the risk is real.

Humboldt County carefully tracks all COVID-19 cases.  Altogether, the county has traced the source of over 85% of all cases.  To date, the county reports 189 confirmed cases with 17 hospitalizations and four deaths.  Community transmission is relatively low (12.7%, with one community acquired infection since June 15), but travel-acquired infection is common (25.4%).  An event such as the endurance ride falls into the realm of likely transmission, “travel-related.”  Even though community-related transmission is relatively low, county health authorities rate the risk of spread at “Level-2: Moderate Risk” (Humboldt County COVID-19 Dashboard). Possibility of contact with people from out of the county – event participants, other campground users, and other park users – places the risk of attending this event at a higher level than normal community activities. 

CUNEO CREEK RIDE: We expect the approval from Humboldt County’s health authorities for Redwood to roll forward to the Cuneo Creek Ride.  Cuneo Creek presents an issue different from Redwood, though.  At Cuneo Creek, we use the State Park’s group campground.  At present, the Cuneo Creek Horse Camp is open for individual use, but its group camp areas remain closed.  Until and if the state opens state campgrounds for group camping, we do not have a venue for the ride.  How likely?  State Parks Administration tells us that, although possible, they do not realistically expect campgrounds’ group areas to open at all this season.  So, although we have not given up hope (and, consequently, we keep the ride on AERC’s calendar), I rate the probability rather low.  As we get closer to ride date, we will know more.  I will keep everyone posted.

Please look for more emails over the next few days. 

Take care – be well.

Jim

 

July 20, 2020

Dear REER Family:

We have some good news.

REDWOOD RIDE: This past weekend, we received the necessary approvals for the Redwood Ride.  The ride is now sanctioned by AERC and ready to proceed.  All that remains are the usual: Recruiting and organizing the volunteer effort, obtaining veterinarian support, arranging emergency and community services and campground, preparation and marking of trails, administration and records, etc. 

This year, we have an entirely new set of things to consider, COVID-19 regulations.  We will follow our “non-spectator event” plan approved by Humboldt County and AERC.  It contains a significant number of changes and additional procedures from our normal way of putting on an endurance ride. 

It also limits the total number of riders, volunteers and crew, not just riders.  We may be approaching those limits, if we have not already reached them.  If you wish to ride, please submit your ride entry request immediately.  By mail, please, with a check enclosed.

We need every rider, crew, or volunteer to understand the changes.  We have made a commitment – which we will honor – to ensure social distancing, wearing of facial covering, etc.  Some of these procedures may seem burdensome or even intrusive, measuring of temperature with an infrared thermometer of all arriving participants, for instance.  If you intend to come to the ride, please understand that we must have cooperation with these new procedures.  My next letter will contain specifics, and we intend to call every registered rider during the week before the ride.

Also, please be aware that, despite our best efforts to minimize the possibility of COVID transmission, this will not be a totally risk-free event.  Other groups may use the campground (rent strings or another camping group, for example), and the park is open to other users.  The ride date is one of the most popular for other park users.

Humboldt County carefully tracks all COVID-19 cases.  Altogether, the county has traced the source of over 85% of all cases.  To date, the county reports 181 confirmed cases with 17 hospitalizations and four deaths.  Community transmission is relatively low (12.7%), but travel-acquired infection is common (26.5%).  An event such as the endurance ride falls into the realm of likely transmission, “travel-related.”  Even though community-related transmission is relatively low, county health authorities rate the risk of spread at “Level-2: Moderate Risk” (Humboldt County COVID-19 Dashboard). Possibility of contact with people from out of the county – event participants, other campground users, and other park users – places the risk of attending this event at a higher level than normal community activities.

CUNEO CREEK RIDE: We expect the approval from Humboldt County’s health authorities for Redwood to roll forward to the Cuneo Creek Ride.  Cuneo Creek presents an issue different from Redwood, though.  At Cuneo Creek, we use the State Park’s group campground.  At present, the Cuneo Creek Horse Camp is open for individual use, but its group camp areas remain closed.  Until and if the state opens state campgrounds for group camping, we do not have a venue for the ride.  How likely?  State Parks Administration tells us that, although possible, they do not realistically expect campgrounds’ group areas to open at all this season.  So, although we have not given up hope (and, consequently, we keep the ride on AERC’s calendar), I rate the probability rather low.  As we get closer to ride date, we will know more.  I will keep everyone posted.

Please look for more emails over the next few days. 

Take care – be well.

Jim

 

July 3, 2020

Dear REER Family:

I have not written for some time.  I hope you will forgive me.  We have been “sequestered” to avoid COVID-19.

People have asked about the status of the Redwood Ride (August 15) and the Cuneo Creek Ride (September 12-13).  I have wished for a definite answer, but all I have is, “We don’t know.”

As of today, AERC has both rides listed as going. We await information from our public landowners, though.  At present, neither will process our permit application.  Both, it appears, look to the same source for their information, California Parks and Recreation, which gets its guidance from the state.  I have learned that they (and Humboldt County) await California State’s “re-opening guidelines for gatherings and events.” It may be included in the next release, due July 15.  Perhaps we will have a clearer picture then than we have now.

REER will continue to accept entries for both rides, with the following understanding.  If the entry fee is paid by check, we will not cash the check until after the ride (and then only if the entrant has actually ridden the ride).  If the ride does not go, we will contact all entrants, and we will shred the checks.  We hope that entrants will enter rides individually, as one ride may go and the other not.

If the ride goes, it will likely have restrictions, both in number of riders and conditions to be met during the gathering.  Social distancing and wearing of face covering (masks) are almost certain, as both are mandatory for all reopening business in Humboldt County.  Keeping and reporting data for contact tracing will also likely be mandated.  There may be more restrictions, and riders, crew and volunteers will have to sign and agree to follow the protocol.  Actually following it would be a condition of participation – for both rider and crew.

Restrictions on number of people allowed at the event would likely include riders, crew and volunteers combined.  We would hope that the number allowed would be large enough to make the event viable.  If we must allocate places, we will take entries in the order received (mailing postmark date), with preference given to REER club members. (We will accept new or renewal memberships up to a week before the ride.)  Entry forms and membership forms are available on the REER web site.

For those wishing to ride during the COVID-19 shutdown, some people have become creative.  Two members of our community have offered “virtual rides,” and more are likely to follow.  Audra Homicz has presented the Trinity Virtual Trail Ride, and Elicia Kamberg has presented the Wild West Virtual Endurance Ride.  Distances vary, as does the possibility of including other activities besides actual trail miles.

Both virtual events require riders to use distance recording apps to record their rides.  (“Relive” seems easy to use, but almost any app is acceptable.)  Some riders have also posted their ride activities on their Facebook ages.  CSHA Endurance is donating awards provided by CSHA Endurance sponsors to the Trinity virtual event, which has drawings for prizes among those that enter for a fee and complete miles as directed. Wild West has also provided prizes (and charged a fee). For more information on the Trinity virtual ride, please email Audra ( dogwoodspringsfarm@yahoo.com ). For the Wild West virtual ride, Elicia posts on her web site (wildwestendurance.com).

Other ride opportunities: Trails are open at both Redwoods National & State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  Camping is available at the Orick Rodeo Grounds with a camp host and hot showers/restrooms. (For information, call the Orick Chamber of Commerce: 707-488-2885). Cuneo Creek Horse Camp has four individual camp sites available for reservation on Reservecalifornia.com and one more on a first come basis.  Cuneo Creek’s showers and restrooms are open, but group camp sites are closed for the season and it does not have a camp host.  Also, Jackson State Forest campground in Mendocino County opened for camping on July 1 (See link below for information):
https://www.fire.ca.gov/programs/resource-management/resource-protection-improvement/demonstration-state-forests/jackson/

A couple of words of caution.  First, if you go to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, please be careful where you park.  The ranger service has reported an increase in incidents of vandalism to vehicles, especially ones parked at the old mill site (beside Mattole Road, between Albee Creek Campground and Cuneo Creek Campground).  A member also reports that her horse became ill with a tick-borne illness.  It is tick season, and ticks reside in grassy areas near wooded ones.

As I get more clarity on the Redwoods and Cuneo creek rides, I will send out another letter.  In the meantime, though, we will post on REER’s web site and Facebook page.  AERC will also have the latest information.

I hope you are sheltering-in-place and observing social distancing and face covering rules, as are we.  Be well and be safe.

Jim

 

April 20, 2020

Dear REER Family:

Please note this correction:  AERC has only suspended rides up to May 11 th, rather than indefinitely. The Board is meeting on May 4th (phone) to determine what further action is to be taken.  I’ll let everyone know how that turns out in my next letter.

Please keep in touch with friends and family.  I have found time to have satisfying phone conversations with cherished family members, including one nephew whose wife was quarantined with an illness that her physician believed to be COVID-19.  He cared alone for their young son, whom he was afraid would get sick. 

Now may be a good time to mend things that need mending.  A few kind and caring words may go a long way.

I hope that you are well and safe.

Jim

 

April 20, 2020

Dear REER Family:

Here’s a quick update on things.

What is happening?  Mostly, we are staying home. Although Humboldt Redwoods State Park is closed (parking areas and Visitors’ Center), trails that allow 6 feet of separation are open.  The campground is closed, but parking at the roadside turnouts is still OK.

As I wrote earlier, the rides – Chalk Rock, Redwood and Cuneo Creek – are still on hold.  Right now, we expect the California and Humboldt County stay at home orders to be in effect for most, if not all of May.  Even as mitigation efforts seem to be working, we expect that California, Oregon and Washington will take a safe road to reopening.  We expect Humboldt County to follow state guidelines, even with no new cases reported.  AERC has also stepped forward, with its board withdrawing sanctioning of all rides until further notice. 

For now, Donna and I are following guidelines and remaining at home except for an infrequent trip to buy groceries.  That has meant that we have not been going to the post office to get club mail.  As a consequence, we have not picked up membership renewals or ride applications.  If you sent either with a check, please forgive our delay.  Our policy is to not cash ride entry checks until after the ride, anyway; and we will let you know when we plan to cash your check for membership renewal.

I am grateful to those who understand the importance of social distancing, as it is the only way we know to slow or prevent the spread of the virus.  As I hear protests by people who say that they will take the risk, I wonder if they appreciate that is not only themselves but family, friends and community members at risk.  With asymptomatic carriers apparently commonplace, it only makes sense to avoid the possibility of unaware transmission.

As we have a clearer view of what lies ahead, especially as we have an idea of whether any of this year’s rides are possible, I will let everyone know.  Until then, please be safe and stay well.

Jim

 

March 24, 2020

Dear REER Family:

Here is a little letter to bring everyone up to date on what is happening. We hope that its arrival finds you well.

First, we understand the purpose of “shelter-in-place” and other social distancing efforts, and we fully support all the efforts.  We have talked with staff at AERC about our upcoming rides, and we have received information from Humboldt Redwoods State Park about the status of our event there (Cuneo Creek Ride).  As a result, we (REER’s board) have agreed that we should comply with the social distancing requests and suspend our gatherings.  Consequently, we will not hold the Spring Awards Banquet, scheduled for April 5. 

Also, we will suspend preparation for the Chalk Rock Ride (ride days: May 22 and 23).  That, of course, will mean that the ride itself will be postponed.  When we have an idea of things to come, we will find a new date for it, one that will be consistent with the Barnwells’ operations of their wonderful ranch.

With regard to regular meetings, we will hold them “virtually,” using an as yet-to-be determined virtual meeting platform.  Please plan to join us online for the regular club meetings.  (I need time to get things set up, so the first online club meeting will take place on May 5.)  The usual potluck will not be possible, but I will try to find a way to have open social time.  Any suggestions?

With regard to the other REER rides, Redwood and Cuneo Creek, we are in a “wait and see” mode.  Humboldt Redwoods State Park (Cuneo Creek) has returned the checks we sent to reserve the campground and pay the event registration fee, but they have said that they will hold our reservation, pending as yet unknown future park special event policies.  For now, though, they have suspended all special event activities in the park and have closed the visitors’ center, at least until April 15.  They tell us that the trails are open for use but have asked that trail usage be limited to pedestrians only (no horses or mountain bikes).  This is because of trail conditions, not social distancing – trails are soft and unstable, due to recent heavy rain and snow.  We expect to receive information when they judge the trail conditions OK for horses, and I will send out an email to let you know.

The creativity of the endurance community already shows.  One member (Ann York) has begun to organize “virtual rides.”  They allow competitors to set their own courses and to post start-finish times and GPS data.  This organizer has said that she will offer awards.  I am not sure how this effort will progress, but I will certainly inform everyone as things develop.

Importantly, I am reminded of the fear that comes with social distancing.  We, especially, need to keep in contact with each other and provide support.  Please make a point of contacting your endurance friends and riding buddies on a regular basis.  Also, please be careful about the information you share.  Too much of what is going around is either absolutely false or, at best, badly misleading.  Reliable information appears to come primarily from state-level sources.  We have found Governor Cuomo’s talks to the people of New York State especially informative and hope inspiring in their accuracy and clarity.  Likewise, we have found information from the World Health Organization (WHO) to give an accurate picture of the situation world-wide.

Last, I ask that you appreciate the impact that the situation is having on particular people.  One, who had hoped for necessary medical treatment, has found that treatment unavailable or the risk – especially of contracting a COVID-19 infection – too high.  They need our support.

As I receive reliable and useful information, especially about endurance activities, I will send out more letters.  In the meantime, please feel free to contact me via e-mail ( james@biteman.com).  I try to monitor my e-mail on an every other day basis or better.

With caring and understanding of the importance of mutual support.

Jim Biteman, President, REER

February 27, 2020

Dear REER Family:

As I talk with members of our endurance community, I hear everyone looking forward to a great ride year.  REER ride preparations are well underway. 

Volunteer assignments are happening now.  If you have volunteered in the past, please expect a call.  If you plan to work at one or more of this year’s REER rides (or desire or think you may want to – volunteers have fun and eat for free, too!), please contact the ride’s coordinator or let me know: 

                Chalk Rock (May 23-24): Robin Drechsler (rdrech@wildblue.net)

                Redwood (August 15): Donna Biteman (Donna@biteman.com)

                Cuneo Creek (September 12-13): Pam Peace (littleladypeace@hotmail.com)

News: Thomas Valtierra, Chief Ranger of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, tells us that conditions in the park are exceptionally dry.  The new bridge for Johnson Camp Trail has been put in the park’s plan, but for 2021. Their trail maintenance plan includes control of poison oak – we thanked him for the work of a trail maintenance worker, who last year cleared the poison oak on Homestead trail for us. This week, several of our riders saw state work crews at work, clearing the upper part of Indian Orchard trail.  They confirmed the exceptionally dry conditions.

We received the permit for this year’s Redwood Ride from the Redwood National and State Parks.  Trail preparation for Chalk Rock begins soon.

Incidentally, Donna and I accepted an invitation to become “head volunteers” at this year’s Tevis Cup race.  We will coordinate volunteer activities at Robie Park, the location of the start of the ride. 

Please come to Tuesday’s meeting: Carol Wooster’s home, 835 Ole Hanson Road, Eureka (near Indianola – call 707-367-1185 for directions).  Bring something yummy for the potluck (a main dish?) and a horse story or news to share.  Potluck and social time start at 6:00, followed by the meeting at 6:30, ending no later than 8:30.

The usual standing items on the agenda: Minutes of last meeting, President’s report, Treasurer’s report – followed by review of each ride’s preparations.  Please let me know if you would like the agenda to include other items.

Happy trails and good fellowship.

Jim
 

 

January 18, 2020

Dear REER Family:

I have a little news to report this morning – mostly from our club meeting last Tuesday.  To give you the highlights:

1. We have a new board of directors, pending final approval by REER’s active members. Here they are, including the officers’ positions for 2020:
1. Donna Biteman – Treasurer (second year of a two-year term)
2. Maryanne Riley – Board Member at Large (new term, two years)
3. Jim Biteman – President (new term, two years)
4. Audra Homicz – Executive Secretary (replaces Berit Meyer, two-year term)
5. Natalie Herman – Vice-president (one year, fills the remainder of Carol Wooster’s term).
2. We passed an amendment to the club’s bylaws, also pending final membership approval. It adds an article that specifies the disposition of the club’s assets.
3. Appointment of managers for REER’s 2020 rides:
1. Chalk Rock (May 23-24): Robin Drechsler
2. Redwood (August 15): Donna Biteman
3. Cuneo Creek (September 12-13): Pam Peace
4. Other items included approval of Humboldt Amateur Radio Club as the HAM operators for Redwood and Cuneo Creek rides. Chalk Rock may also have coverage, pending the availability of licensed operators from the Humboldt Amateur Radio Club.
5. Approval of funds for an ad in the spring issue of AERC News.
6. Authorization for the Treasurer to transfer funds from checking to savings (to gain interest).
It is important to note that the election of officers and appointment of ride managers is for 2020 only.  Both sets are for one year terms.  Next year, we will repeat the process.  It is also important to note that ride management is a club function.  REER’s ride managers report to the Board of Directors, which holds policy (including approval of trails) and budget authority.  Note that the company president is listed with AERC as co-manager for all REER rides.

At the meeting, we discussed the details of the job of ride manager.  Although we follow the AERC Ride Managers Handbook, REER also has its own ride management handbooks, one for each ride.  They contain much detailed information, including past ride history, needed by that ride’s manager. 

Between now and next meeting (March 3), ride managers will put together their operating plans and budgets.  Please expect a call to ask for your help as a volunteer at one or more of the rides.  Each manager counts on about 30 people to help mark trail, manage water, take pulse, etc.

On another issue, the Humboldt Amateur Radio club asked us to announce their program to assist people interested in obtaining an amateur radio license.  For less than $100, including cost of equipment, a person can get on the air.  Humboldt Amateur Radio Club will provide instruction and assistance in passing the licensing exam, etc.  Contact – Anthony Weise: anthonyweise@yahoo.com.

A bit of personal news:  One of our young members, Stephanie Schlerf, suffered fractures of both kneecaps in a fall at the Ferndale Ice Rink.  She underwent surgery to reassemble one, broken in six places.  She is at home recuperating and would appreciate calls or letters.

On a personal note, we buried our beloved tabby cat this morning.  Healthy and active, he came home after last week’s storm not feeling well.  He died this morning, of what we suspect to be some kind of poisoning.  We loved him dearly, having raised him and his sister as kittens abandoned by a feral mother at the age of two days.  He had been an important part of our lives for nearly sixteen years. I add this to this letter as a reminder to all just how attached to our animal partners we become and just how fragile they really are, and to ensure that we are sensitive to the grief that each of us feels at such a loss.

Also on a personal note, Donna and I have just agreed to manage the volunteer activities at Robie Park, for this year’s Tevis Cup Ride.  We look forward to seeing all of our friends there.

As we approach the time of the next meeting or as I have something worth sharing, I will send out another letter.  Please mark the date of the next REER meeting, Tuesday, March 3, on your calendar.  Also, please expect a call from one of REER’s ride managers, to ask for your help.  Volunteering is fun; it gives an opportunity to enjoy a shared and productive time together.  As we do not have contact information for everyone, I would appreciate it if you would send me your e-mail address and cell phone number.

Many thanks.

Happy trails and warm friendship.

Jim

January 12, 2020

Dear REER Family:

Please note the change of location for next Tuesday’s meeting (January 14).  We will meet at Carol Wooster’s home – 835 Ole Hanson Road, Eureka (near Indianola).  For directions, please call Carol: 707-367-1185.  Please let others know of this change.

The agenda for the meeting is busy and important:

Election of a board and election of officers for 2020. We may need as many as four new members (of five total).  If you would like to serve on REER’s board, please let me know or come to the meeting to engage in the discussion.
Appointment of managers for the club’s rides.
Consideration of an amendment to the club’s bylaws, introduced and suggested by one of the club’s members.
We will begin with a potluck, starting at 6:00 pm.  Bring something good to eat, and share in good fellowship.  The business meeting will begin at 6:30 and end by 8:30.

I look forward to seeing you soon and to sharing in a wonderful year of rides and friendship.

Jim

 
 December 24, 2019
 
Dear REER family:
 
We hope that the holidays find you well.  If you celebrate it, I hope you have a joyous Christmas.  For all, we wish a time of quiet reflection and opportunity to be close with those we love.
 
As we move into the new year, we look forward to enjoyable rides and good fellowship.  We have the usual three rides planned for this year, along with times of friendship and good fellowship.  We hope you look forward to all the REER activities.  I attach the calendar, as approved at the November meeting.
 
We do need a January meeting, to review the plans and to manage the club’s governance – board and officers – for the year.  We will hold it at our house: Donna and Jim Biteman, 1556 Tantara Lane, McKinleyville, CA (707-839-7744 for directions).  Potluck at 6:00, meeting starts at 6:30.  All done by 8:30.
 
Please plan to come.  Bring a good horse story, something yummy for the potluck, and enjoy good fellowship.
 
Warmly and with good cheer,
 
Jim


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