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Ride kicks off ’49ers

Horseback riders, wagons set out on four-day trek

— Before thousands of people descend on Winthrop for ‘49er Days next weekend, about 150 horseback and wagon riders will spend four days traversing the countryside for the 16th annual Ride to Rendezvous.

The ride kicks off Tuesday morning from the Methow Valley Rodeo arena on Twin Lakes Road. Riders will camp there Monday night in order to leave first thing, said Marva Mountjoy with Washington Outfitters and Guides.

“We still have available slots” for the ride, she said Monday afternoon. The maximum number of riders is about 200.

The Outfitters take a different route every year, and this one has been traveled about three times in the ride’s 16-year history, Mountjoy said.

The riders will arrive in the town of Twisp at about 1 p.m. Tuesday, then go from there to the town cross, over Boulder Creek and up over the Rendezvous, with plans to arrive in Winthrop by noon Friday to kick off ‘49er Days weekend.

“This particular route we did on our 10th anniversary,” she said.

Despite registration being slightly down from last year, Mountjoy said there will be about 25 more wagon riders thanks to a positive review in a Seattle-area publication.

Once the riders arrive in Winthrop, the festivities don’t end there. With horses and wagons, they’ll ride through the 69th annual ‘49er Days parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 10.

At noon, the 26th annual Packers Rendezvous will kick off in the Winthrop Park, complete with mountain men camps, Old West displays, food and packing demonstrations.

The Outfitters’ dinner will be at 5 p.m. in the park. On Sunday morning, they’ll host a cowboy breakfast from 8-10 a.m. in the park, followed immediately by a four-hour auction and state packing competition.

There is a cost to participate in Ride to Rendezvous. Riders can bring their own horses and wagons, or rent horses from Washington Outfitters and Guides. Reservations must be made in advance.

Guns, dogs, other pets and stallions are prohibited from the event.

More information about the Ride to Rendezvous is available at www.woga.org.

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