Cross-country rider has a hitch in her get-along

Tracy Delp, the 46-year-old Port Orchard woman riding across the country to raise awareness and funding for cancer, is at a temporary standstill.

Delp and her riding partner Dan Shanafelt, 23, set out from the Pacific Coast with a team of horses (and one mule) on Mother’s Day, appropriate since Delp lost her mom to cancer. The team traveled on highways, back roads and trails, through small towns, mountains, forests and desert land.

They found people who opened their doors to them, fed them and pointed them down the trail. Much of it was glorious. Much of it — especially as they traveled through the desert of Eastern Washington — was pure hell.

One day they expected to find water, but had none. How hot was it? Ursa, Delp’s dog along for the journey, had to wear boots to keep from burning her feet. One of the horses was bitten by a snake, thankfully not a rattler.

After that they carried water, but the stress took a toll on everyone, Delp said.

Shanfelt and Delp made it to the Idaho border in mid-July. There they parted ways.

In her blog and in a telephone interview, Delp said simply, “Dan has decided that he will no longer be riding across the country.”

Shanfelt did not call me back to explain his side of the story.

“This decision has required that I rethink the initial route, as at this point I will be the only human to continue coast 2 coast,” Delp wrote in her blog.

Delp has cut about 800 miles off her route, and she will avoid wilderness areas.

“I can be a whole lot of dumb, but I’m not stupid,” she said. “Going through the wilderness by yourself is not a good idea.”

One other small detail to be worked out: Who will drive the support trailer along the way. Family and friends were available early in the route. Later, Dan drove along stretches where Delp’s unsinkable faith didn’t provide angels along the way.

Delp, now back at home, is working furiously on this and other logistical details. When she gets it together, she’ll head out, picking up where she left off.

It seems everyone is doing some kind of marathon these days. I wonder why you never hear about the people who don’t finish the race.

I asked Delp what about just saying, “I got this far and called it good?”

Aside from consideration of everyone who’s donated money, goods or services to make the trip possible, Delp said, she doesn’t feel pressured to continue. But she also feels no pressure to quit.

“For me, I set my sights on Delaware. I don’t have a reason to stop,” Delp said. “Yeah, there were things that really sucked, but overall, this has been amazing.”

Delp recently got a bit of good news. Her project is in the running for a Pepsi Refresh grant. The company is awarding money to people whose ideas for improving their communities receive the most votes on the Pepsi Refresh website. Currently ranked 52nd in this round of voting, she stands to earn $25,000 if online voters help her make the cut.

This round of voting in the Pepsi Refresh contest ends Aug. 23.

Delp’s journey also has me thinking about how, in this very virtual world, we all seem to be craving adventure. Maybe that explains the popularity of shows like “Deadliest Catch” and “Man vs Wild.”

Maybe that explains why everyone these days has a bucket list that includes far more than sitting on the back porch rocking away the sunset years.

What’s on my list? I’d like to be one of the people who sets off fireworks at a professional show. I’d like to learn the hula and how to play piano. I’d like to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. And that’s just for starters.

So what’s on your list?

4 thoughts on “Cross-country rider has a hitch in her get-along

  1. I’ll go with her to finish her ride…but only if it is self-supporting – nothing beyond horse ridden or driven and all road travel. I can’t ride anymore but I can drive one trained cart horse, perhaps a team, with a few lessons. I’d be doing it for COPD as well as for Cancer.

    My solo recumbent trike trip for COPD didn’t happen this year and I’m going 5 June 2012.

    Sharon O’Hara

  2. The more I think about it, the more I want to learn how to drive a team. I can drive one horse, two shouldn’t be that much more difficult.

    Chris – Where can I get team driving lessons – do you know?

  3. Tracy I called the number on the website and left my name and number -please call and maybe we can meet. I’m in Silverdale…
    Thanks Chris! Sharon

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