Big Bend ~ Stillwell Ranch ~ Trailride & Wagon Train

22nd Annual Big Bend ~ Stillwell Ranch Trailride 2009

by Redhorse, Trail Boss

The 22nd Annual Big Bend ~ Stillwell Ranch Trailride had 105 riders and numerous visitors. While gnats were predicted with the lack of freezing weather on the Stillwell Ranch, the mild, cool winds helped prevent them from hampering daily riding! Chilly nights and bright sunny, beautiful days greeted riders. The Stillwell staff had everything set up for the campfires, (Mark “Hippy” Morton provided some large stumps and firewood for burning) potluck dinners and campsites. Pens had reservation names on them, and campsites were available for all that needed them.

Miss Claudene Cooper, our Official Photographer, was declared Cadillac Escalade advertising genius during the ride. The greasewood limb embedded between her grill and hood didn’t go unnoticed. The majority of photos in the adjoining galleries are thanks to Claudene’s talents and her sidekick “Cinco”. She generously donates her talents to this ride and all it takes is a ‘right-click’ on the pictures on the web site for a copy of your own.

Wally Roberts and his outstanding Dutch oven culinary talents fed herds of riders and RVers! With appetizers served first, and then the full menu of 5-star restaurant quality foods, all diners left the tent stuffed and smiling!  The weather was good until mighty Mother Nature exhaled wind gusts up to 81 mph on Tuesday afternoon.  (The rest of the U. S. suffered tornados, high winds and hail.) The dining tent didn’t survive the mighty wind and only resulted in moving the dining to the covered cabana.

Starting in 2010, Saturday night will be the only Potluck meal with riders and Wally providing a dish to share culinary talents. Those that sign up for the “Wally Chuck” will pay ahead of time for breakfasts and dinners. Others may purchase tickets at the Stillwell Store for specific meals. Specific details will be posted with information for the February 13 - 18, 2010 trailride.

Brewster County Deputy Lonnie Shelton and Sheriff Ronnie Dotson visited the trailriders during this year’s event. Deputy Shelton and his wife, Janice, joined in some great guitar music at the campfire.  Sheriff Dotson and other officers will join us again next year and share in the fellowship and ride activities.

          Rider Craig Peak suffered facial injuries when his horse acted up as we rode out the first morning. Craig was treated at the hospital in Alpine and returned to camp that afternoon.  We were glad to learn his injuries were minor.  Friday evening Juanita Brooks’ horse did not survive his bout with colic. W. T. and staff kindly buried Traveler. We offer our condolences to Juanita.

          Logan Reeves Sisk, 10, rode a small runaway mule a long way before he baled off. This unrehearsed stunt was caught on film by photographer Claudene Cooper. With a ‘Kirk Douglas’ injury on his chin and a ‘Clint Eastwood’ shiner and sore ribs, Logan opted for a covered wagon the rest of the day. After adjusting equipment on the stunt mule, Logan rode him around camp that same evening. A sure sign of a good trailrider and stuntman! This was Dad, Grant Sisk, and Logan’s first visit to the ride and they vow to return.

          We had a couple dozen new riders among frequent riders this year. One of the new riders plans to ride in the Best of America by Horseback ride from Mexico to Canada (April-September 2009). Mrs. Nancy Kacvinski is going to make that ride and post to her blog as available along the way. To check out this 1,800 miles in 21 weeks ride, go to: ; Nancy’s site is at: Good luck Nancy!

          A foolish group of riders attempted to trailer to the old Stillwell ranch house and ride Maravillas Canyon on the same day the ride was going there. They were well aware this is not allowed. They also deceived new riders into thinking this was permissible. (The old Stillwell Ranch house no longer belongs to the Stillwell family. I have a private agreement with the Ranch owner to ride Maravillas Canyon. A few renegade fools are not going to compromise this agreement.) They have been warned and no other rule violations will be tolerated by this group.  If in doubt, ask the Trail Boss or W. T. Potter at the Stillwell Store.

          Lots of riders headed for the Hot Springs in the Big Bend Park on the off day. After the recent floods, it was amazing how clean the Hot Springs were. The National Park personnel and the Black Gap management and staff have all been busy working to repair damages from the Rio Grande floods.

          Thanks to Tom Longfellow for serving as Trail Boss on Thursday. He and his wife Brenda have been part of the ride for years and I knew the few riders left would be in good hands!

          Mark your calendars now for the 23rd Annual Big Bend ~ Stillwell Ranch Trailride from February 13 - 18, of 2010.  REMEMBER – if you have already reserved your camping slot; unless special arrangements are made, it will be forfeited if you do not arrive by midnight, Friday, February 12th.








Tom Longfellow led the riders into Black Gap


Hit Counter