So you think riding the trail is a challenge?
Welcome to “Crewing Tevis!”
• “Where’s My Rider?”
• Rider Pulled or Dropped?
• General Tips for Crews
• Crew-Related Rules
• Crew Access
- Robie Park to
- Foresthill to
- Robinson Flat to
- Robinson Flat to
- Mill Site to
- Lower Quarry/Hwy 49
- Foresthill to
No Hands Bridge
- Foresthill to Finish Line
at McCann Stadium
- Food and Beverages
Crew access is allowed ONLY at the following locations:
- Robinson Flat
- Dusty Comers
- Michigan Bluff
- Chicken Hawk aka Pieper Junction
- Bath Road to Mill Site
- Foresthill Mill Site
- Mill Site to California Trail
- No Hands Bridge
- McCann Stadium (Finish)
A well prepared, calm, and positive crew can be of tremendous benefit to riders of the Western States Trail. There’s nothing quite like slogging into a vet check, bedraggled and worn on a horse who’s been questioning the sanity of his human companion for hours and is wondering just when all this fun is going to end, and then being rejuvenated in every way by a capable, motivated crew!
Bluff and I had gotten hot and had slowed down significantly, which was disheartening for both of us. My crew was on it—cool calm and collected all day.
In this picture, I am holding back tears from overheating, exhaustion, and frustration from fighting my horse all day – wasting precious energy – to slow it down. Bluff had been nuts from the start, then it just got too hot in the canyons. Our argument was a long one.
Luke’s huge smile always picks me up. You can see him communicating with me while unclipping the breast collar, unscrewing the lid to a cold water bottle for me, and power walking sideways toward the vetting area. Celeste had poured one jug on and was getting ready to pour the next, hauling a backpack full of goodies for us. Kerry and my parents were awaiting us just up the road.
Familiarity with the course, trail conditions, and access roads is an invaluable tool for any crew, but a carefully organized game plan will do the job for newcomers as well. Being met everywhere is generally not an advantage to most Tevis Cup riders, as this slows momentum and offsets the rhythm of progressing down the trail. A simple schedule based on the particular needs and skills of each horse and rider team, combined with a well thought out protocol, will provide the most effective strategy for achieving a successful completion.
Access roads are narrow and parking is limited, so it is highly recommended that crews park their trailers in Auburn, in the town of Foresthill or at the Mill Site, and work from a single vehicle. Car pooling is appreciated! Roads must be kept open and clear at all times for emergency vehicles.
Hay, mash, and water will be provided for horses at the “no crew” checks.
“Where’s My Rider?”
It can be helpful to note which riders are close to your rider and watch for them to get an idea of your team’s progress along the trail. As the ride progresses, horse and rider teams tend to leap-frog other riders less and
Cell Phone Coverage: Depending on which carrier you use, cell phone coverage can be very limited in many areas of the course, and although riders are tracked using either GPS trackers, or by in/out times at the more remote checks, crews may not be able to pull up that information online due to poor cell signal (It can be useful to have crew members with more than one cell phone carrier).
Robinson Flat: Cell coverage is very intermittent at this check. One idea is to enlist a fan at home to check the rider’s progress online, and have that person text (or call, if coverage allows) the crew on site to let them know what time their rider went through either Lyon Ridge or Red Star Ridge checks. Generally speaking, provided your rider is not running in the front, it takes approximately an hour to ride from Red Star Ridge to Robinson Flat. Near the in-timers, Comms people usually maintain a white board showing the numbers of horses that have been pulled prior to Robinson Flat. Be sure to remember your rider’s number!
Michigan Bluff: Cell coverage is very poor at this location. If your rider seems to be overdue, there is generally a comms person on site who you can ask to find out if there are any updates. Please be patient – getting updates can be difficult from some of the more remote locations.
Chicken Hawk: Cell coverage can very poor at this location. Foresthill Mill Site: Cell phone coverage is a little better at this location, however crews and spectators can follow the progress of their riders by consulting the “Where’s My Rider?” comms person near the in-timers at the Foresthill Mill Site. Remember that—although on paper the distances between Last Chance, Deadwood, Chicken Hawk and Foresthill may seem quite short—this section contains the three deep canyons, so forward progress may be comparatively slow.
Rider Pulled or Dropped?
Horses and riders pulled from the ride prior to the Foresthill checkpoint will be trailered to Foresthill when transportation becomes available. Trailering from Foresthill is the rider’s responsibility.
Riders and horses that drop out after Foresthill will be transported to the Gold Country Fairgrounds.
Despite the best efforts of Ride Management, the wait for a trailer ride can be lengthy. Please be patient!
It is required that riders who decide to drop out, inform ride management by turning in their vet card and have their horse examined before leaving the course, to avoid unnecessary distress and futile searches.
General Tips for Crews
- Know the rules and follow them! If you’re unsure of something, ask a ride official.
- Take care of yourself throughout the long day and night. Wear appropriate clothing to combat the day’s heat and the evening’s coolness, stay well hydrated, eat real food at regular intervals, and bring a chair, wristwatch and flashlight.
- Prepare your crewing gear in easy-to-carry containers and pre-plan with your rider the necessities for each stop (and then bring extra!)
- Allow plenty of time to reach each check-point, always driving at safe speeds.
- As a minimum, plan to meet your rider at the one hour gate-to-hold stops: Robinson Flat and Foresthill. Crews provide a psychological lift to both horse and rider, in addition to their practical contributions.
- Help your rider leave each checkpoint on time.
- Share your extra supplies and offer help to other riders and their horses.
Rules regarding crews are strictly enforced. Crew violations may result in the rider being disqualified.
- Only four-wheel drive vehicles should be used on dirt roads, especially in the high country above Michigan Bluff. Crew access to some of the checkpoint locations may be restricted or prohibited due to snowfall and necessity of emergency vehicle access.
- Motor homes and horse trailers will not be permitted into any intermediate checkpoints except Foresthill. Access roads are very narrow and traffic congestion can develop into a serious problem as a result.
- The use of excessively large crews leads to traffic congestion. Consequently, crew access will be limited to one vehicle per rider at all checkpoints except Foresthill. There will be no crew vehicle access to the Midway Crossing at Highway 89 (near Squaw Valley), Soda Springs/Baker Ranch Road section, Devil’s Thumb-Deadwood, Michigan Bluff, Francisco’s or the Lower Quarry.
- Crews must under no circumstances park in such a way as to block traffic, access to the trail or checkpoint, or other parked cars. Crews are encouraged to car pool and must comply immediately with directions issued by ride personnel and/or law enforcement officials.
- There is no reason for crews to travel at high speeds between checkpoints. No matter how fast the crew’s rider may be, it is possible to arrive at all major crew access points well in advance of your rider without ever exceeding safe vehicle speeds on access roads. You will have plenty of time, so relax, be a safe driver and enjoy your day in the forest. Speed limits are actively enforced by the USFS and the County Sheriff’s Department.
- NO SMOKING on the trail.
Because access roads are extremely narrow and parking is limited, please obey the no parking signs wherever they exist. Remember that Ride Management has to use these same roads, as does the general public, including fire/rescue units. If a true emergency should develop, lack of common courtesies by crews could lead to serious problems. Failure by crew to observe no parking signs can lead to the immediate disqualification of an entrant.
Robie Park to Robinson Flat:
Because of current USFS restrictions on the use of Robinson Flat Campground, we are currently very limited in space, so until further notice, only two crew members (with wristbands) per rider are allowed at Robinson Flat.
We highly recommend that crews carpool from Foresthill to Robinson Flat.
If you have a vehicle pass and you arrive prior to the frontrunners, you will be able to drive your vehicle up to drop off crew / equipment before heading back downhill to park. Please refer to the ride packet for specific instructions on this.
No vehicles without passes will be allowed past Sailor Flat (1.5 miles before Robinson Flat).
Spectators are welcome to use the shuttle bus or walk in to Robinson Flat. (not at this time)
No horse trailers or motorhomes allowed at Robinson Flat during the ride. Drop horse trailers in Auburn, Foresthill, or Foresthill Mill Site.
No motorhomes beyond Sailor Flat.
Allow 2 hours and 45 minutes. To reach Foresthill from Truckee, take I-80 West approximately 72 miles to the Foresthill Exit in Auburn. Turn left across the freeway and head east along the Auburn-Foresthill Road passing through the town of Foresthill (17 miles) to the Old Mill Site, where there is plenty of parking for trucks and horse trailers.
To reach Robinson Flat, continue on the Foresthill Divide road approximately 27 miles. (Road name changes to Baker Ranch – Soda Springs Road part way along).
Crew Tip: Robinson Flat is 36 miles into the ride and is at 6,730 feet elevation. Consider bringing a light blanket or horse cooler, extra buckets in which to warm water in the sun, spare tack, and a tarp for spreading out gear, food and tired bodies. A farrier will be available. Cres may assist once the horse and rider are past the “No Crews Beyond This Point” sign on Soda Springs Road, but not before that point.
Foresthill to Dusty Corners:
Allow 1 hour and 30 minutes. Crew access to Dusty Corners (near Last Chance) is permitted, but not recommended. To reach Dusty Corners, take Mosquito Ridge Road 24 east from Foresthill for 24 miles. The road is steep and winding. Turn left onto Road N-44, a paved road that turns to graded gravel after about two miles (High clearance vehicle recommended.) Follow N-44 for 5 miles to the Dusty Corners. THIS IS THE ONLY PERMITTED ROUTE. The Ride provides necessary feed and water for the horses at this veterinary checkpoint. There will be ride officials and communications support posted at this remote location. Should a rider need to pull at Dusty Corners, the Ride will provide transportation for horse and rider to Foresthill. Rider crews will be expected to check the “progress chart” located at Foresthill and confer with the volunteer staff in order to make arrangements for pickup and transportation of their rider’s horses from Foresthill to Auburn..
Crew access to Deadwood is prohibited and traffic is controlled along the Auburn-Foresthill Road (at the Deadwood turnoff). The event organizers will provide necessary feed and water for the horses at this checkpoint. Only ride officials, veterinarians, and support staff will be allowed access to this remote location. If a rider’s horse is eliminated at Deadwood, the event organizers will provide transportation for horse and rider to Foresthill. However, riders may have a long wait for such transportation as travel time is long and volunteer trailers and drivers to handle this effort are limited.
Robinson Flat to Foresthill:
Allow about 1 hour drive time. To reach the Foresthill Mill Site vet check, return along the Divide Road approximately 25 miles, about 3-1/4 miles past the turnoff to Michigan Bluff. Look for direction signs on your left as you pass Bath Road, turning in at the main Mill Site entrance, park your vehicle as instructed. Proceed slowly when entering/leaving the Mill Site area as you will be crossing the route being taken by outbound riders. Crews may meet their riders at the in-timer station or on Bath Road, which must be accessed on FOOT ONLY. Walk down Bath Road to where the trail comes out to the pavement, approximately 1 mile. Crews may assist their team anywhere along that stretch. Crew Tips: Foresthill is 69 miles into the ride, elevation 3,225 feet. Crews can check the progress of riders on the status board. Find a quiet spot to set up before meeting your rider on Bath Road or at the in-timer: The Mill Site is large and the crewing and vet areas are quite spread out. Foresthill is the last time you will see your rider for several hours, so make sure that both horse and rider are well-prepared for the evening hours, rested and refueled. Crews should bring spare tack for the horse and dry clothes for the rider (the evening can be chilly), a small flashlight for the rider and possibly glow sticks for the horse (attach to breast collar; three are plenty; try these ahead of time — not surprises for the horse!) A farrier will be available.
Robinson Flat to Michigan Bluff:
Allow 1 hour travel time. Return to Foresthill on the Baker Ranch-Soda Springs Road, traveling approximately 22 miles to Michigan Bluff Road. Turn left and go 3 miles to town. PREPARE TO PARK WELL BEFORE THE ENTRANCE TO MICHIGAN BLUFF AND TO CARRY YOUR OWN SUPPLIES. Past riders of the Tevis are very familiar with the small town of Michigan Bluff, usually a welcome sight for both horse and rider after two big canyon crossings. As usual, riders will find cool water and a group of smiling faces as they pass through town, but riders will not stop in Michigan Bluff for a vet check this year. For the past several years, room to spread out and stage a vet check in Michigan Bluff has become more and more scarce; riders of past Tevis events are familiar with trot outs down the center of main street! For this year’s event, the Ride Committee has secured use of a new staging area on Chicken Hawk Road, approximately 1.5 miles past Michigan Bluff on the trail. Chicken Hawk: Michigan Bluff will be a water stop with no vet check or hold. There will be a Gate & Go at the Chicken Hawk/Volcano Staging Area. Please be aware that crews will be able to meet their horse in Michigan Bluff and also be allowed to walk into the Chicken Hawk/Volcano Staging Area. You can take your time in Michigan Bluff to enjoy all the town has to offer, but be aware that your rider will need to take some time at the vet check at Chicken Hawk/Volcano. All checkpoint time estimates and cut-off times will be adjusted to accommodate this vet check change. Be sure your rider plans their pacing and feeding schedule as they move through the canyons in anticipation of a longer trail between vet checks. The Ride Committee is working toward securing a permanent vet check, with full crew access, at the Chicken Hawk/Volcano Staging Area for next year.
Mill Site to California Street:
1.5 miles; allow about 5 minutes. As you pass through the town of Foresthill, California Street is a well-marked left turn. With both horse and rider having just enjoyed an hour-long respite, crewing here is more likely to delay than really help. Crews are nonetheless welcome to assist their teams along Main Street and California Street as far as where the dirt trail leaves the pavement.
Crew access to Francisco’s is prohibited. The Ride will provide necessary feed and water for the horses at this checkpoint. Only ride officials, veterinarians, and support staff will be allowed access to this remote location as the road is extremely steep and narrow. Should a rider’s horse be eliminated from the event at this checkpoint, the Ride will provide transportation for horse and rider to Auburn. However, riders may have a long wait for such transportation as travel time is long and volunteer trailers and drivers to handle this effort are limited.
Rock Quarry/Hwy 49:
Crew access to the Lower Rock Quarry Road checkpoint is prohibited. Only ride officials, veterinarians, and support staff will be allowed access to this remote location as the road in is also the route taken by outbound riders. A variety of food and beverages will be available for riders, with hay, bran, grain, water and blankets for the horses. Horses eliminated from the Ride at this location will be trailered to Auburn.
Foresthill to No Hands Bridge:
About 18 miles; allow 30 to 45 minutes. Crews can meet their riders at No Hands Bridge, but actual crewing is usually unnecessary. It is a good spot to see your rider (by moonlight) before the finish. To reach No Hands Bridge, follow the Divide road out of Foresthill for about 15 miles and turn left onto Old Foresthill Road. Continue downhill about 3 miles to the Hwy 49 bridge at the Confluence of the American River North Fork and Middle Fork. Park along the roadside near the Hwy 49 bridge and walk from there to No Hands Bridge, either by crossing the highway bridge and turning onto the access trail to your right to the east end of No Hands Bridge, or by taking the trail that passes under the highway bridge and leads to the west end of the bridge.
Foresthill to Finish Line at McCann Stadium:
About 19 miles; allow 1 hour driving time. Crews may watch for their riders at the official finish line at McCann Stadium, but are encouraged to wait at the finish line to observe the victory lap around McCann Stadium at Gold Country Fairgrounds. Parking in or near the Staging Area is limited. Follow the Foresthill Road back to I-80. Take the freeway west to Auburn and take the Hwy 49 exit. Go right at the bottom of the ramp, passing under the freeway. Go right at the light on Lincoln Way, then left onto Auburn-Folsom Road. Look for the entrance to the Fairgrounds main parking lot, about 1/4 mile on your left.
Food and Beverage
All No-Crew Vet Checks: There will be food and beverages available without charge to all riders at the Vet Checks that are not accessible to crews.
Foresthill: Vendors will have food available on site for purchase.
McCann Stadium: There will be food and refreshments for sale at the Gold Country Fairgrounds ceremonial finish line.
The Awards Banquet: Beginning at 1:00 pm on Ride Sunday, affords an opportunity to meet all the riders and visit with friends and family. Sunday’s Awards Ceremony Outdoor Barbecue Banquet, will be held in the Upper Pavilion on the Fairgrounds, under the large covered area below Livestock #3 on the other side of the drive from Livestock #1 just opposite of the Red Barn. Casual attire is appropriate. Tickets for the dinner will be available at the door.