27th Annual Washington Draft Horse and Mule Association Wagon Train
Canceled: Wednesday, June 26 through Sunday, June 30, 2013
Regretfully, we did not achieve the required 30-person registration by the deadline of May 1st and the 2013 Wagon Train has been canceled. Please contact the Wagon Train Coordinator to be added to the mailing list to receive information regarding the planned 2014 Wagon Train.
The tentative dates for the 2014 Wagon Train are June 25-29, 2014.
Registration deadline is absolutely May 1st! If we don't have at least 30 people registered by May 1st, the Wagon Train can't roll. Don't wait!
2013 Wagon Train Poster
2013 Wagon Train Registration Form
This annual event is open to everyone; teamsters, outriders and pilgrims on foot. Draft horses, mules and saddle horses are all welcome. This is a catered event (three meals a day) that takes place in the hills above Ellensburg. This year the Wagon Train will be a "base camp" or hub type event, with a stationary camp and a different loop of travel planned for each day. This type of event allows participants to bring their RV or living quarters trailer and camp in comfort, although we do ask that you preserve the peace of the wild by not using a generator and by covering/shielding all your electric lights after dusk.
The cost for attending the 2013 Wagon Train is $325 per person 13 years and older, $175 for children 5-12, children under 5 are free. Download a Wagon Train registration form today! We will assemble on Wednesday, June 26th and disband on Sunday, June 30th, rain or shine. The deadline for registration is May 1st! If you have questions, please feel free to call the Wagon Train Coordinator, Jenni Grey, at 360-805-1948 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your help in spreading the word about this event would be greatly appreciated! We have a lovely full-color flier available here (although you can certainly print it in black-and-white). Please make sure that if you post them at feed stores, tack stores, etc. that you observe the owner's rules regarding posting fliers, and also practice good bulletin board etiquette.
GENERAL WAGON TRAIN INFORMATION:
Click on one of the following to jump straight to details about:
The exact route varies each year, but in general the Wagon Train follows trails and forest service roads through the hills on the Eastern Slope of the Cascade mountains, above Ellensburg. The elevation ranges from about 2,500 to 5,500 feet above sea level. Once the snow melts in May or early June, we go up and finalize the year's Wagon Train route. Directions to the trailhead will be mailed to those who have registered for the Wagon Train.
We try to find accurate and current topographical maps of the area to hand out to all the Wagon Train participants on the first day of the event. Usually there is at least one group of riders who, rather than ride with the wagons all day, prefer to take "the path less traveled". We try to find maps that will show some of these alternate routes so folks can add miles to their daily ride if they so choose. We often stop to rest, take pictures, check our equipment and just enjoy the scenery. It is doubtful that anyone will find our pace too grueling!
If, at the end of the planned day's trip, we return to camp with daylight to spare and people feel they didn't see enough miles go by, we might very well just head out again for another jaunt before supper. It's also not uncommon for some of the teamsters to find a handy mounting-block and climb up on their unharnessed horses for a little pre- or post-supper group ride to the watering hole or out on a ridge to see the lights of civilization far below.
The Wagon Train is catered, so none of us has to worry about sour milk, broken eggs or doing dishes and we are always assured of a hearty meal. The catering is provided by Cascade Mountain Grilling, of Ellensburg, and begins with dinner on Wednesday and ends with lunch on Sunday. Breakfast and dinner will be Dutch oven cooking at camp. A sack lunch is sent out with us each day.
Sani-Kans and a large tank of potable water (for horses and people) will be available in camp. If there is a creek near the camp, we may ask you to water your stock from the creek, rather than from the tank, whenever possible. This cuts down on the number of times that the tank needs to be taken down off the mountain for refilling. Please be understanding of this request if we make it. Hay will be available each evening for purchase in camp. The price per bale is dictated by the current hay prices in the Ellensburg area. You should bring cash or a check with you to pay for hay, as this is not included in the Wagon Train fee.
The 2009 Wagon Train saw the advent of mandatory usage of certified weed-free hay on all U.S. Forest Lands in Washington State. We purchase a supply of compressed certified weed-free timothy or orchard grass hay in Ellensburg and bring it up to the Wagon Train camp. Wagon Train participants are asked to keep track of the number of bales they use over the span of the trip and then pay for their share at the end of the event.
If you wish to provide additional calories to your stock, you may bring commercially processed feed pellets or steamed and rolled grains. The state's website regarding the use of weed-free feeds in National Forests has this to say on the subject:
"Commercially processed feed pellets or steamed, rolled grains are also allowed under this order. They are considered weed-free feed and need not be state certified. Feed pellets are made by finely grinding the ingredients, heat treating, and then compressing into pellets. This process kills a very high percentage of viable seed that may be in the source ingredients. Similarly, steaming and rolling grains kills most viable seeds that may be present, including those of invasive, noxious weeds. While commercial processing feed may not in all cases eliminate all weed seed, feed pellets and steamed rolled grains are considered a reasonable option for preventing invasive and noxious weed spread."
If you do decide to bring your own commecially processed feeds, we ask that you please leave it in its original packaging, or bring the packaging with you, in case anyone should question you on the origin or nature of your feed. The fines for having the wrong feed in the National Forests is up to $5,000 per person or $10,000 per organization. If you want to find out if your particular feed is allowed in the National Forest, you can contact the WA State Noxious Weed Control Board at 360-902-2053 or at email@example.com
Some years the Wagon Train is of the "base camp" or hub type. That is where we have a permanent camp for the duration of the event, with a 10-12 mile outing on a different loop of trail each day, returning to the same camp each evening. We try very hard to lay out the routes so as to not retrace our steps too much. We may average fewer miles in very hilly or rocky terrain, or if there are cattle guard crossings that require us to unhitch from the wagons. We have an area to park the trucks and trailers and a separate meadow a little distance away set aside for the caterer's camp and tent camping.
Other years we have the "traveling camp" or linear type. With this type of wagon train, we assemble at the head of the route on the first afternoon, unload all our gear and animals. That evening we drive all of our trucks and trailers to the end of the entire 4-day route, then get a ride back to our animals and gear. Each evening we make camp in a new place along the route, where the Sani-Kans, the caterer and the hay truck will be waiting for us. Ah, luxury!
No motorized vehicles will be allowed on the Wagon Train route, (except, of course, the all-important caterer and hay truck), HOWEVER, we do occasionally encounter other folks along the way who may be driving any manner of vehicle, including ATVs. They are usually quite polite and respectful of our horses' sensibilities.
For outriders and those on foot, the caterers offer a freight service for $40 that is of particular assistance those years when we have the "traveling camp" type wagon train. They will transport your sleeping bag, small tent, small duffel bag with your clothing and toiletries, and a 5-gallon bucket with all your horse stuff inside it. They will ferry your gear from one evening's camp site to the next. Note on your application if you would like to use this service. Again, however, this service is not required if we have a "base camp" Wagon Train that year.
If you play a musical instrument, we would LOVE to hear your music in the evenings! In keeping with our old-time type excursion, please no radios. Depending on the dryness at the time of the Wagon Train, we might be able to have campfires at night. Fire hazard assessment can change from day to day so it is possible for there to be a last-minute burn ban placed on the Wagon Train. We will not know until the day of the event.
We will probably be traveling about 10-12 miles per day, taken at a very leisurely pace. Depending on the terrain and the particular hazards of the day (if any), the wagons may travel fewer miles, but never more. Wagons will be traveling on gravel or dirt roads (forest service type). Depending on the specific route, we may have to cross the occasional shallow creek. If your horse has problems crossing puddles or creeks, you will want to work on this at home, ahead of time. Trying to fix this issue on the trails has been proven to be a good way to break equipment. While this is never the end of the world, it can take a chunk of time out of your day and give you unnecessary frustration.
Outriders may sometimes wish to part ways with the wagons and ride overland on one of the many side-trails. These trails may be steep and narrow, or have logs to step over. If you plan on riding out with a group of folks, it is a good idea to discuss ahead of time any limitations that you or your mount may have, so the group can take it into consideration when tackling the trail.
Sometimes the route may take us past a cattle guard that requires that we unhitch the horses, lead them around the cattle guard, push the wagons across the cattle guard, then re-hitch. Such an undertaking is a group effort, so rest assured you won't have to go it alone! We will discuss the day's route at breakfast; outriders may be asked to stay with the wagons for a portion of the day's trip, to assist in such a crossing.
The road can be very rough in spots. Fist-sized chunks of basalt lodged in concrete-hard dried mud make the going slow and careful in these areas. For this reason, all equine on the Wagon Train (both draft and saddle) should be shod in some manner (iron shoes or equine boots)! If your horse has a tendency to be very tender-footed, you might want to consider pads as well. Make sure you take a look at the list of recommended equipment - this includes a variety of spare and repair equipment for wagon and equine alike.
No dogs, no fireworks, no non-equine animals, and no guns please.
YOUR ANIMALS, YOUR WAGON:
Use your good judgment in choosing which horses and/or mules to bring on the trip and how to match riders and mounts. The environment can be pretty exciting for animals, so we would prefer not to see green horses or those who are aggressive or real nervous. Stallions are not permitted on the Wagon Train.
We recommend that all riders use a saddle with a deep seat, such as a Western or Australian saddle. Unexpected things can happen in the mountains and a deep seat tends to help horse and rider stay together. It is guaranteed that a broken bone will ruin your Wagon Train, so set yourself up to stay in the saddle!
All wagons must have brakes or a braking device! We will be traveling in the hills. Again, please review the list of recommended equipment for wagons and equine.
Teamsters should bring horses in good condition, as we may be traveling up and down long grades, i.e. several miles each way. It may be quite hot at that time. This is not a good place to bring green colts or out-of-condition horses. This is also not a good time to break in a new saddle.
Be prepared for extremes in temperature and rain. It can be quite hot or cold, windy and rainy. We might even get all four in the course of one day! Plan for yourself and your animal(s).
You need a method of securing your animal(s) for the night. Most people tie their animals using a picket or a highline or use a portable pen. You decide what works for you and your critters. Animals may not be hobbled in such as way as to allow them to wander, and then left unattended. Loose animals are a hazard!
Wagons can be rubber-tired or wood-wheeled. Rubber-tired wagons should carry a spare tire. Wagons should have good brakes. This bears repeating. Uphill and downhill grades of a mile or more are not out of the question.
Wagons can carry as many passengers or outriders as the teamsters want. The teamsters will make all decisions about their own wagons and teams. Unfortunately, we don't really have a way of hooking up the horseless with teamsters who are willing to take on a footsore passenger. However, in the past, pilgrims have been able to hitch a ride on a kind teamster's wagon.... although not always on a comfy bench seat with springs! If you are planning on attending the Wagon Train as a pilgrim, please understand that you are not entitled or guaranteed to ride on someone else's wagon. That being said, teamsters are generally a friendly and helpful lot and are extremely unlikely to turn down a Wagon Train hitchiker.
Keep in mind that these lists are not to be considered the be-all and end-all of packing. Ultimately, you are responsible for the health, safety and comfort of yourself and your animals. We provide three meals a day, hay to purchase for your horses in the evening, Sani-Kans and potable water in camp for horses and people. Everything else is up to you!
Keep in mind that the weather on the mountain can range from quite hot to very cold, sunny, rainy or windy. It's also possible we could have all those conditions in a 24hr span! Pack wisely but lightly when the Wagon Train is of the moving-camp variety.
Each wagon should have:
a 14' chain with hooks on each end
some wire and twine to make small repairs
a spare tire if the wagon is rubber-tired
For your horses/mules you should bring:
a hay net for each animal
a water bucket
a way to secure your animal(s) for the night - highline/picket/portable pen, etc.
tack repair kit
spare front shoe shaped to fit your horse and a dozen spare nails
Here's a "brainstorm" list of stuff you might consider bringing along for your animals.
spare halter and lead
spare hame strap for driving horses, a latigo for saddle horses
brush or curry comb
hobbles if your horse is hobble-broke
weed-free pelleted feed (if your horse needs the extra calories, to supplement the hay) and a container to feed it in
equine first-aid kit, including a tube of colic remedy
Here's some items you might want to consider for yourself:
human first aid kit
extra snacks or beverages for between meals
cash for hay, pop, ice
waterproof map case
pen or pencil (to write down the email addresses of all your new friends, to exchange photos later!)
camera and spare batteries
REGISTRATION, FEES AND DEADLINES:
Folks 13 years and older: $325
Little ones 5 years thru 12 years: $175
No charge for those under 5 years
Horse food: Certified weed-free hay (grass hay or timothy hay) will be available at each evening campsite for purchase. Non-certified weed-free hay, grains and feeds are strictly prohibited. If you would like to give your horse extra calories, you may bring your own commercially processed pelleted feeds or steamed and rolled grains. See this section for more details on bringing your own feed.
Association Dues: Everyone on the Wagon Train must be a member of the WDHMA. If you are not already a member, please add the dues to your Wagon Train fees. The dues are as follows: $20 for a voting membership, $15 for non-voting or $30 for a family membership.
Freight: This service is offered when the Wagon Train is "moving camp" style. For $40 per person, the caterers will move your gear (one sleeping bag, one small tent, one small duffel, one 5-gallon bucket and one folding chair) from one camp site to the next for the duration of the Wagon Train. Outriders and those on foot will likely want to take advantage of this service, unless they have a pack animal.
May 1st: Deadline for registration and 30% deposit.
June 1st: Remainder of registration fees due.
June 26th: WAGON TRAIN TIME!!
Registration may be accomplished by downloading, printing, filling out and mailing in a registration form. Alternately, you may call the Wagon Train Coordinator, Jenni Grey, at 360-805-1948 and have a registration form mailed to you.
See you in the mountains!