Lillian Guess isn't sure whether it's the beauty of the countryside, the nightly chats around a communal campfire or just the chance to relive a piece of history that draws her back to a trail ride every year.
The 35th annual trail ride sponsored by the Sooner Teamsters and Trail Riders Association begins Thursday near Lawton. The 144-mile, nine-day trek commemorating the Land Run of 1889 concludes with an 89er Day Parade in Norman on April 20.
This is the 23rd year that Guess, who lives in Noble, has participated in the ride. She'll finish the ride on Cherokee, an older, gaited horse that has accompanied her on several of the treks.
“Cheyenne is getting older, so I'll finish the ride on him, but he's too old to make the whole trip. I'll ride some younger horses for the first part of the journey,” she said.
For Ray Waldron, the annual ride is a vacation he wouldn't miss. At 88 — he turns 89 in July — Waldron is the oldest participant, known to his fellow travelers as “Papa Ray.”
“I've crossed rivers, forded streams, gotten cold, gotten wet, but I've always enjoyed it. It gives me something to do,” Waldron said.