On my way to Washington state tomorrow! Going through Kansas to Rock Creek Station to spend a couple of nights and ride there. May get to see my granddaughter if there is a safe place for Issy. Will post a couple of pictures tomorrow when I get settled.
Okay, got to Nebraska..Rock Creek Station State Park
and the horse camp was completely empty...no wonder...it was 102 when I got here. dropped to 94 at 8PM but this is a really nice camp...but no electricity and their water well is temporarily out (luckily, I brought plenty of water. The pens are fine....old type with square tubing but safe enough. Had plenty of worry when I first got here, Bo ran off, so I put hobbles on Issy and went to look for the dog, got back and the horse was gone, finally got everybody together and I set up my usual 5 acre electric field for Issy...plenty of grass and now I'm going to see if I can figure out how to send pictures with my phone...these are from my regular camera...Nite all! To bed early after 558 miles and 12 hours on the road!
Got up and went for a 2 hour ride yesterday, Rock Creek Station is a very nice state park, well preserved historical buildings:
cabins, original round pen, Post office, bunkhouses, toll bridge, sight of official Pony Express, clean trails and many trails in the wilderness.
Left and visited with my granddaughter for a quick lunch and made it almost to Wyoming! On the road again this morning after spending the night at a farm 10 miles off I80.
Today I started out at 5:30 Am… Issy had a great paddock and Bo was able to run loose. While I was reading my map Bo started to growl and his hair stood up on his back…so I got up to see a sweet little orange and white cat coming towards the trailer…I hushed Bo and told him that cats were okay. After I sat back down I then noticed BO just staring out the door not making a sound. I got up again to look and there was a skunk heading for the trailer as well. Bo must have worn that perfume before as he never made a move to violate the frail screen between him and Mr. Skunk. We were able to load up without incident and left a nice farm 10 miles from Interstate 80. We drove up to over 8,000 feet were the temperature was 49 and I had to close a few windows as Issy had no coat for that. The interstate was pretty busy and I pushed my truck up to a few miles over the supposed speed limit of 70 edging close to 75 as I was told you might not get a ticket doing up to 5 miles per hour over the limit. The 18 wheelers, cars and trucks charged by me going at least 80 plus but I was not interested in getting a ticket. Then I saw a sign which said to slow to 75! So I slowed upwards to 75….what was the speed limit? Then I saw it…it was 80…..I thought of my father, a heavy footed volunteer fireman so I pushed the pedal down. As I was gaining speed alongside me came a chopped, old red pickup hauling a small U-Haul trailer. Leaning out the window of the truck was this massive arm with a peace tattoo as big as a watermelon and that gal had the truck listing so far to the left that I thought the truck would tip over. She sped by me with the trailer whipping back and forth as it faithfully tried to counter balance her weight and the excessive speed. I wondered if that tattoo was a petite, little one and it grew as she obligingly increased her arm size. Well, I had to focus on 80 miles per hour and hope that the U-Haul would stay attached. 80 it was and that was a little too fast for this gray haired old lady with Issy in the trailer. Boys…..you should try me when my trailer is empty! Mumbling to myself that it was just too darn fast I saw a sign that said 17 marble showers ahead at Little America….I wanted to check that out but then I was doing 80. The next sign said “mechanic always on duty”….well Burton’s machine is working fine, thank you (except maybe the generator)
We pushed on to Weber (that’s pronounced Weeber – not Weber) County Fairgrounds north of Salt Lake City for the night where Issy got a big shaving filled stall and I got to hook up to electricity for the first time since I left home…So we're here in UTAH settled for the night.
Left at 6:30 this morning, headed up the interstate and after about an hour or so I pulled into a rest stop....Oregon is truly horse friendly as there was a drive through pen and grassy fenced field just for horses, safely separated from the public stop, with water and all. We could have easily spent the night right there. After leaving Emigrant Springs and Blue Mountain I thought the rest of the trip would be just sand mountains but I was surprised by the Columbia River Gorge and I'll never forget the azure water dissecting the mountains. I was awestruck by the beauty....
Got to Richard and Silvia's place and both Issy and I were treated to perfect quarters. Issy had a lush green pasture and I am all hooked up with electric and water. Bo just stretched out under the air conditioner and snored! Hood River, Oregon finally after 2,200 miles! Rested for a full day and then we were off to Mt Adams.
Okay, so I am here at Mt Adams - what a view, scenery to almost make me cry!
Stopped to let a doe and her twins cross the road....one looked a little confused, ran towards my rig so I let the window down and screamed at it. Luckily it decided to follow Mama!
Saddled up and rode 6 miles and the trail was sooooo very easy! Bo stayed close for a while but then took off.
A fellow who was at the B&B I stayed at in Utah gave me a dog whistle so I tried it out and Bo came running! He has to be the best trail dog anyone could ever ask for. I had to crawl under the trailer to fix some wiring that came loose and he crawled right under to try to help! Too funny!
Rode 8 miles, over some easy bridges, up to a fine shelter _ Wicky Shelter,
along Buck Creek where you could hear the water but seldom saw it and down a canyon where there was so much dead fall that the trail was the 'only' way through. Trying out my video skills...not so good but hope I will improve for the PCT.
July 13, 14
Had a great ride today...went to Trout Lake Big Tree - one of the biggest Ponderosa Pines known but found it had some problems that look to me like pine bore beetles.
The hikers all said that the PCT at Mt Adams was still snowed in and they were post holing. That would make it impossible for Issy so I went to the Forest Service and they said I was 2 weeks too early. With that disappointing information I am back at Richard and Sylvia's to wash clothes and regroup. Looks like I will ride the lower elevation and try to get through next week instead of this week. Washington has been very obstinate about me riding border to border for the last couple of years.....snow, trees....I have time this year so I am going to wait it out!
I spent several days waiting for Kelly to arrive as well as waiting for the snow to recede from the upper trails. My hope was to start Washington at Cascade Locks and just ride to Panther Creek with my rig being moved by some kind soul.
But that didn’t happen so I drove to Panther Creek Horse Camp where there was drinking water across the road at the regular camp ground but nothing at the primitive horse camp. The big parking area had trees to high line, was level and large but little else.
No one was camping so I felt very safe and Issy was high lined between some big trees enclosed by deadfall and forest debris.
Having arrived early in the morning I knew we would be able to put in a good ride so I tacked up and headed south. We travelled for a few miles with me expecting to be turned back at every turn. Having attempted this portion of the trail twice before I had little hopes of riding right through previously there was so much deadfall that it was impossible for a horse to get through.
Bridge at Wind River
Every mile I felt I would be turned back but I switchbacked out of Pather Creek and headed south covering 3 miles before getting to my first deadfall. Issy just climbed up the hill and we continued on jumping the next few trees as we went. I was thrilled that we were able to get almost all the way to the Bunker Hill Trail before any deadfall.
We passed lush meadows but with private property signs followed along the trail to Rd 2090 where there was a descent field and water to the southwest but went on towards Rock Creek.
We travelled over Snag Creek area where the canyon walls echoed the creeks and as we left earshot of one we picked up another beckoning we forward. The rush of the water was our constant companion and we stopped at a camp site uphill from Rock Creek. We passed several hikers and one camped up the trail but none stopped at our camp. There was a mist in the air but not so much as to soak everything.
Issy just wanted dinner and was happy to be highlined and eating. I really wanted graze for him but I guess he was too tired to complain.
I packed up and headed south for a few miles then turned around to ride the trail back to Panther Creek. It looked totally different then when we came. I looked for the area mentioned last year in another horseman’s journal and it was right around Snag Creek south on the gravel road with some graze and water. It would have been a much superior place to camp! I walked many miles as Issy was not as fit as I wanted getting blisters for my efforts. We crossed another road and Bo stopped each car looking up at every driver as if to see if he knew them. As we continued on Issy lost a boot trying to walk through some deadfall and I worried that it was ruined but with a little adjustment we were again on our way. We met several people who were hiking and one fellow “Dan” who was doing the PCT to Snoqualmie at Hwy 90. I knew I would cross paths with him several times more before I got to Canada. We got back to camp and I decided to rest the following day and reweigh my pack items with hopes to reduce it by several pounds.
Knowing that I was coming back to the trailer again I planned to ride out only 12 of the 17 miles norht towards Crest Horse Camp which had nothing related to a horse except a nice location in the pines, oh picnic tables and a vault toilet! (That IS a luxury when you are camping). We climbed up from Panther Creek switch backing but not finding any impassable trees down.
The trail was fairly easy and was well maintained so I didn't have to clear any trees but the traffic was constant as we are located close to easy access for hikers and weekenders and I forgot how busy the trails were which were close in. Hidden back in the forest was some beautiful views and a couple of near washouts where the trail was only holding on by a thread.
We got to one mountain top to find that the entire side of the mountain had slide miles down and I hoped that Issy's weight wasn't enough to help finish the job! Water was an issue for about 10 miles with only a small spring which ran about a liter in 3 or 4 minutes, Issy waited patiently for one bucketful and again for a second. We turned around and cover 24 miles total.
Moved the rig to Crest and rode south 4 miles to catch the part I didn’t finish yesterday. Fair scenery but a good climb. Issy just motored on and we were back at the trailer in no time. I decided to head to Richard and Sylvia’s in Hood River for a quick overnighter before I took Issy into Indian Heaven Wilderness tomorrow.
I drove to Crest Horse Camp again to start tomorrow for a 5 or 6 day pack trip.
I was lucky to be able to back up into the camp and Issy had a nice electric pen to relax in. Dan showed up and we chatted for a while but he wanted to move on and cover a few more miles as there was so much daylight left. Early to bed!
July 22, 23
I had the intentions of riding out 3 or 4 days and riding back to my trailer and moving it north but.....I entered the Indian Heaven Wilderness knowing that it was going to rain...so, well, I'll tell you - so - you can darn well freeze at 43 degrees and soaking wet! How stupid of me to not heed the weather warnings. I rode out to Junction Lake covering some beautiful country (even in the rain), past Blue Lake, Indian Race Track (said to be site of Indian races). I got to Junction Lake set up the tent and tried to put up a Tyvek shelter for my stuff to hang, well, the Tyvek had seen too many trail miles and leaked like a sieve.
Everything was soaked, luckily I had put on my new water repellent boots but I had on cotton soaks, quickly changed into my wool ones which I just happened to have brought and put on my wool shirt, warmth at last, wet but warm, Issy not so much so. He shivered and shook, but he put his butt into the storm and finally got enough of his body out of the rain and wind to warm up. Bad scenario for someone with as many miles in the back country as me and it was a big wake up call. I was starting to think I knew something....At 10:30 Issy alerted - I got up to see an Elk munching leaves just 30 feet from my tent and that was just too close. Bo helped me send her back into the forest. An hour later another was back and Bo, again, made short work out of establishing our perimeter. I smelled a skunk but never saw it and Issy started to warm up to Bo after the Elk incident. They seemed to take turns guarding or at least Issy seemed to relax more with Bo on sentry duty. Bo has changed the dynamics of trail riding...Issy and I still have an unspoken communication but Bo has made it a triad. Morning broke with little light as it was still raining. I got up with the rain stopping long enough for me to pack everything up except my tent, and for a few seconds I actually thought about going on....will I never learn? Better sense took over or at least HE sent me a stern warning with lightning and torrid rain for 3 more hours with me, Bo and all my gear piled into my tent....Issy was just plain ticked off and I could feel him trying to say...Go back to the
The rain let up enough for me to take the tent down and saddle up.... My Muddy Creek slicker saved the day as I was able to cover everything with that and walk since I was too cold to ride. I had a hiker waterproof (NOT) rain jacket with caused the rain to drain down my pant legs under my chaps (Muddy Creek) but those chaps would have been fine riding. They did keep my wet legs warm. We covered the trail in record time, me almost running while I shivered and shook. Issy pushed on right behind me and even didn’t try to evade the rain by turning his butt into it as he usually did. He knew the trailer was down that trail and he was “going.” Issy was finally warmed up with his winter blanket on standing in the trailer and I hung all my soaked things in the camper, with little hope all that soaked stuff would dry.
Bo was on his back spread eagle on the couch, but whined at me as he soaked everything so I put down a dry stadium blanket and he promptly flipped over and stayed that way for hours!
I decided to drive back to Mt Adams where Issy could have a big paddock with grass and sun.
We both needed that sun and I needed to get all the wet things out of the trailer.
I thought that driving back on narrow, steep Rd 60 was going to be a nightmare but I only ran into one problem: a weekender driving a tiny white car hogged the one lane road at the most inopportune time. We were on a steep downward grade and she refused to move over. There was no way to back up my heavy rig and the only solution was for her to hug the shoulder and I would do the same. I was on the dangerous drop off with no guard rail and she was safely close to the mountain. As I started to pass she just screamed like we were going to collide. Using my mirrors I could see I had a couple of inches to clear her car but she sat there blowing her horn and throwing up her arms…the poor fellow in the passenger seat next to her must have been embarrassed as he jumped out and walked around her car to see if she could move over. I saw at least 2 feet of road on her far side and it would have been awfully nice to have had that extra space but she was too hysterical to do anything so I inched forward with her screaming “Stop, my car, stop, my car” the whole time. If she could only see my down mountain tires half on the road and half hanging off the cliff! I eased forward with the trailer coming within an inch or less of her car and I have to admit that it must have been horrifying for her in that little car to see the trailer over her fender and roof. But, with her refusing to move over we weren’t going anywhere unless I edged my rig down the road. Meanwhile, the guy walked to the far side of my trailer and his eyes grew huge, seeing that I was literally hanging on by a tread or less. Of course, I could see exactly where my tires were as well as I could see her damn little car. Slowly I continued but this time the guy started to wave me forward against her wishes. It seemed to help her calm a “little” but I bet when he finally did get back into that car his life was miserable! With no other encounters, I drove back to Mt Adams and set up Issy in the field and hung all the wet stuff on anything that could be used, trees, bushes, picnic tables! The sun felt wonderful!
Up early and saddled, we headed to Buck Creek, Trail 39. We rode 10 mile, the trail was very interesting, crossing bridges and covering the varied terrain in just a few hours. We were back at camp by 2 and just relaxed the rest of the day.
Rode out of Mt Adams again on the Buck Creek Trail with Issy knowing that it was only going to be a 10 miler or so. He was full of himself, tossing his head, shaking it and generally wanting to just be let loose.
We rode with a great couple from Washington - they were on her dressage horses: both Andalusian mares and very, very pretty. They kept a fast pace and added some interest to the trail we had ridden several times in the past few weeks.
Carla and John decided to go home as Carla's mare had a swelling on one leg and she wanted to take care of it correctly. I just house cleaned and went to visit the Ranger Station to get an update on the snow and the Placid Lake trailhead. Snow was melting fast off the PCT according to the ranger around Mt Adams so if Kelly could get here we could go on and get back to the PCT together.
The next day Issy and I went to the Placid Lake trailhead (at Carla and John's recommendation) to catch the PCT and ride south to Junction Lake ( I was interested to see how it looked without the rain) the primitive trailhead was empty so I set up camp right there as there was good graze right on the back side of the lot and I was carrying 50 gallons of water in my truck to take care of both Issy and my water needs.
I never saw a soul except for a couple of cars that flew down the dead end, rough road and almost as quickly came right back out. I took trail 29 to Placid Lake which had trout jumping, mirror images of the surrounding trees and lush green areas bordering the lake. Just too pretty to describe. We climbed up to the PCT and headed south to Junction Lake. It was easy travel and when we arrived I found a hiker camped in our old spot...I wanted to ask if he had night visitors (Elk) as we did but he never came out. The lakes in the area were lovely and there was even a good bit of graze for Issy. Too bad it had been such poor weather when we were first camped there a few days ago.
We travelled north the next day to Forest Road 24 going up Bird Mountain, past Wood Lake and on to Sawtooth Mountain but the trail both days had been moved away from the lake perimeters making them visible, accessible but only if you wanted to lose a good bit of elevation to get to them. The creeks called me forward and then when we passed them they seemed to want to draw us back until the next one came into hearing range. I met a North bound hiker - Brett - who said he would let me know about the snow conditions in the next 30 miles. Issy and I did cross a bit of snow but then we were only at 4,000' not the 6 to 7, 000 we had to climb next week.
We headed back to camp with Issy finally figuring out the routine (out and back) his pace quickened and we arrived at the rig in only 3 hours versus the 4.5 it took us to get out. Then I am going to tell you what NOT TO DO.....I pulled off Issy's tack and put him in the paddock I set up with his halter on. Earlier that morning I had put his pen inside of the electric fence so I could have him safe at night..noting that he could possibly get his halter caught on the pens connection. Sitting down drinking tea I watched him do that very thing. The entire side of 4 panels rose up into the air attached to Issy's nose, I prayed that something would break but knowing that the halter would probably never break. I walked carefully and quickly to him but he panicked and never responded to my Whoa! Finally, the side clip broke and he was free. Luckily he wasn't hurt....me - my pride once again was slapped around for being so....you know....stupid! Good grief what is wrong with me....
We left Placid Lake because Kelly thought she might be able to meet me and I wanted to have a few easy rides for Gillete but time was running out for me. I had only so many weeks before I had to get home.
August 1, 2
I left Mt Adams and went back to Richard and Sylvia’s after finding out Kelly wasn’t coming for a few more days. This really was messing up my hopes to get to Canada but riding with Kelly is great fun, she is a competent and knowledgeable rider so I waited. Issy started to rock the trailer when I pulled into their driveway…he learned he would have that wonderful paddock for a few days.
Back to Mt Adams as Kelly was finally getting off work and was to arrive today. She was leaving 90 feet elevation to get to over 5,000’ so we had to try to get her horse acclimated. Gillette was in fine shape and we organized our packs so we could leave Monday.
We left Kelly’s trailer at Mt Adams and hauled to Big Mosquito Lake where the PCT intersected the road and then packed off on the PCT towards Mt Adams. We rode from 3,900 feet to 5,700 feet, thru areas of burned forest.
Kelly’s pack slipped and we readjusted it but it just wasn’t holding and we constantly had to check it.
Gillette had no problem with the leaning pack but I am sure any other horse would have tried to buck it off. We camped at a beautiful meadow at the junction of Trail 9 – Round the Mountain Trail. The camp had privacy, a small, shallow glacier lake and plenty of graze.
It was something out of a fairy book! With our tents nestled between huge boulders and the horses high lined against the mountain we were settled for the night.
The horses never made a sound as they had grazed until they no longer were interested in the lush mountain grass.
We rode trail 9 (Round the Mountain Trail) towards Mt Adams and quickly lost 3,000' elevation. There was lots of glacier runoff in the creeks and the going became rough and difficult to follow through the burned forest.
We continued to Cold Spring Trail as we couldn't find Morrison Creek Trail # 39. We went out to the old gravel road which paralleled it on the map.
Luckily, we came right to trail 38 which was the next trail we were to take. I knew my way from there as I had ridden it a few days ago. We covered 19 miles and I still had to get someone to take me back to my get my rig at Mosquito Lake! Long day, very long day!
We packed up and drove to Keenes Horse Camp.
It is a great horse camp but the road from Trout Lake was treacherous with us taking 50 minutes to cover the worst 5 mile section of it. We pulled in the old section of Keenes with me having only one choice large enough for my rig and Kelly pulled in a couple of sites south. Spring Creek was just a short distance from camp and there was a good horse trough a few sites away.
The vault toilet was a welcome sight as our holding tanks wouldn't fill. The camp host came by and I talked with him about driving one of the rigs south to pick us up so we didn't have to reride the same trail. He agreed but I ran into a gal and her husband who said the trip out and back was doable in one day and we would certainly enjoy it both ways.
We decided to just ride out and ride back but was grateful that the camp host could have picked us up if we needed it.
Oh, the ride today was what it must be like to ride in heaven! We left Keenes (pronounced Kee-nes) on trail 13 going 2.5 miles to attain 6,100 feet at the PCT, leaving the 4,400 feet at Keenes.
The trail footing was okay with a few switch backs which should have been twice as many but when we got to the PCT it started with views of snow covered Mt Adams and Mt Helens. The morning fog was lifting and blanketed the peaks and valley. I could have almost cried as this is what I live for every year. Green meadows were interspersed between the glacial run off creeks. Killeen Creek was the first but not until after a couple of idyllic mountain lakes coddled by the bright, lush meadows nestled in alpines. Even as I write this I can see the startling contrasts and white capped mountains in my mind's eye.
It is so very hard to describe and photos just don't show the majesty! Our plan was to ride to Adams Creek and then reverse and head back to camp being about 16 miles total which was all we wanted but we were priveledged with those wonderful views once again with the scenery every bit as rewarding from this dierction. Adams Creek was a 3 finger rush but very passable except not where the trail indicated. That crossing made even Issy nervous but a few 100 yds down it was like crossing 3 stoney creeks instead of the violent, murky swirl above. With Mt Adams shouldering us on the north we enjoyed tremendous mountain floral displays, dispersed in the wilderness rock gardens. There was a lot of foot traffic but mostly at the waterfalls and glacial melts. Magnificent! Back at camp we split up to try to get some first hand info about north bound trail info. I hit the jackpot with Cindy and Jo who were camping for a few days prior to a work day scheduled Sunday on the PCT. They were working in conjunction with PCT volunteers to remove some 80 trees on the very section that we were to take the following day. Their suggestion was to wait until Monday to ride it and Cindy was quite sure we couldn't get through until they logged it. Now with that information we had 2 days to regroup and we decided to ride a bit north and take our preplaced trailer back to Keenes.
We took Kelly's trailer to the Divide trailhead then came back and rode up 3 miles to the PCT along the banks of Adams Creek. The scenery again was breath taking with Adams Creek rushing down the mountain on our left. We gained 3,000' but it really didn't feel like it until we came down. We hit the PCT and going south made me realize each miles was precious and beautiful. Through lava fields dotted with lupine, Indian Paint brushes and magentacolored flowers scattered in the rocks. Creeks and waterfalls combined with excellent footing rewarded our efforts. We back tracked only to see so much different we just couldn't take it all in. we loaded up and trailered back to camp on the gravel road from hell back to Keenes to spend the night.
Rick the camp host agreed to follow Kelly to Midway Garage on Rd 115 to leave her trailer so we could ride to it and haul back to Keenes. We saddled up and headed to Midway, back up to the Pacific Crest Trail in short order with both the horses feeling fine. We crossed a lava filed and were treated to Lava Spring which had crystal clear water flowing from the lava bed. We climbed towards Potato Hill and on to Rd 155 where Kelly’s trailer was parked. There was several horsemen camped and it turned out to be a BCHW trail crew Deb and Doc Wessilus (a renown PCT horseman) who were very helpful, giving advice on the Goat Rocks Wilderness just ahead. We visited for a while then loaded up and headed back to Keenes. We had planned to drive up to Walrupt to set up camp and be ready to ride out in the morning.
Leaving Walrupt to ride south to 155 we were up and out quickly. We rode past the host at the lake and she informed us it was clear both ways according to the hikers, welcome news as there had been so many trees down the week before. We climbed out on trail 121 to 7a to 155 then back up to 121 and it was a long trip of only 13+ miles. We got to camp with the horses relaxing in the pen we made for them.
We rode out to continue on to the PCT from 121 but this time going north into Goat Rocks. The Sky was menacing but we climbed up. It started to rain but then it hailed large and hard. Kelly kept riding so I finally had to tell her I was pulling off until it stopped as Issy was getting pelted in the face. We decided to pull off on trail W101 to head back to camp instead of camping at Sheep Lake. Kelly was getting too cold and she looked wet to me as well. Over 4 inches of rain blasted us as we tried to find our way. The creeks were getting flooded and when Kelly came to one creek bed a wall of water came down on her and Gillette in an instant. A flash flood which took Kelly by surprise but I told her we had to go on as we had crossed so much low land that going back would probably be very dangerous. She felt creek was too deep but I knew the alternative was not an option so I asked Issy to go through the water and he bravely stepped into the water. It turned out that it wasn’t over his knees yet but was rising as we crossed and I shouted to Kelly to get through it while she could. It was certain that the swamp area we had come through would be very dangerous so she had to cross and she did. We rode as fast as we could getting to the trailers with both horses shivering as well as Kelly. We loaded Issy and Gillette into their trailers and didn’t hear a word out of them for 3 hours. I guess standing quietly all blanketed up in the trailers was very comfortable!
We took the day off as everything was soaked, Kelly went to wash clothes some 2 hours away and I just cleaned the pens and hung stuff out to dry.
We saddled up and were heading out to the Nannie Ridge Trail by going out Trail 101 but before we had even gone 3 miles Gillette showed signs of being sick. He was breathing rapidly and was not moving out with his gusto. Kelly was very concerned and decided to walk back to her trailer and take him to a vet. I continued on and rode up to Nannie Ridge Trail 98, meeting a few hikers along the way. The trail was very steep and then there was a huge rock leaning against a tree blocking the trail. I wondered how any small horses could have gained the other side of the trail but I know Issy could jump up and pull us over. He did just that but as we were going up and over I knew if he had miscalculated we would be in serious trouble. With his tremendous power he just rose above the rock and we were on the other side instantly. From there to camp was all downhill, literally miles of descent with switch backs and pretty poor footing. Finally, we got to Walrupt Lake and then our camp. I was to meet Kelly at White Pass so I prepared to leave in the morning.
I moved to Cascade Park RV Camp and stayed overnight to wash clothes and find a few bales of hay. I had a great camping spot along the river. Electric and water hookups were welcome and Issy had a great paddock with grass and sandy footing. We both enjoyed the day but I didn’t have any success finding hay – a fellow even brought some hay but it was just too poor for me to feed even though he said it was certified…? I really didn’t believe him since there were weeds and grass with seeds all through the hay. I heard from Kelly and she was moving to White Pass where I would meet her in the morning. Gillette was doing okay. We were to ride south from White Pass to McCall Basin to cover the part north of the Knife Edge (Old Snowy) which was so treacherous and we were warned by Doc Wassilius not to go over it.
At White Pass Kelly walked and I rode south to Hidden Spring which is a wonderful camp for horses. The trip was almost all down so it was a nice change for the horses not to have to work so hard. There was graze and plenty of water and we found a nice camp spot secured by downed logs. Gillette seemed okay but wasn’t 100 percent, Issy was in top form. We had a couple of hikers come and visit and Bo was as usual bothersome so I had to leash him. He just never met a hiker he didn’t love! We put up our tents and had a great night with the horses high lined. Gillette wasn’t drinking much water and it concerned me.
We both started to ride out but soon Gillette showed signs of trouble so Kelly led him. We had to do a good bit of climbing and on a rock ledge Gillette was showing real stress signs. Kelly asked if I could stop but we were on moving slabs of rock and I was praying that we could get over the ledge safely so I couldn’t’ ask Issy to stop on such a precarious spot. Gillette was markedly worse and I saw a very sick horse trying his best to breathe…Kelly and I were worried as we still had several miles to get back to camp but he seemed to get a little relief when the trail levelled out. We came up to a hiker who had worn out his shoes and had them duck tapped together. I had seen him at Walrupt Lake and had offered to take him to purchase some new ones then but here he was still with the same shoes! Back at camp Kelly high lined Gillette in a dark, musty, shaded area but I opted to have Issy out in the sun where he could have fresh air and enjoy the warmth. Luckily, White Pass had a wonderful grazing area (old pond bed) with lush grass and both of the horses grazed for hours.
Kelly and I started out together and we had a big climb out from White Pass from 4,400’ to over 5,500’ and it wasn’t long before Gillette showed signs of stress. I told Kelly that he was a very sick horse and reminded me of a horse who just couldn’t’ get enough air. Kelly had to turn back but we had hopes that we could meet up at Snoqualmie or even Chinook Pass if he was okay by then. She headed to the vet’s once again. I continued up to Fish Lake. This section of the trail was unbelievable: lakes and great footing all the way. I was fortunate that I ran into a great lady Pat B. who agreed to move my trailer to Chinook Pass so I could camp out at Fish Lake and just ride on. With no worries except Gillette I truly enjoyed the trail with all the lakes and meadows one right after another. We passed up a packers camp hoping tofind one with some graze and we camped at Fish Lake along with a few other hikers but the area was wonderfully secluded and private. I let Issy loose and he just dragged his lead as he ate. With his bell on I was able to set up camp and just listen for him rather than watch him the whole time. The solitude was most enjoyable, the campsite was level and with all the graze both of us were very comfortable. Bo varmint hunted never catching anything but giving chase to quite a few.
August 19, 20
Rode to Dewey Lake knowing that Pat was to have the trailer at Chinook Pass and I could take a shower and resupply. I hated to leave Dewey Lake, the great camp and it’s lovely surrounds but I soon forgot about it when the trail unveiled some of the most beautiful scenery. There were lots of narrow and exposed areas but nothing too serious. I wasted alot energy worrying about an area some hikers told me a horse couldn’t get past and I walked for miles so I wouldn’t get in that spot and not be able to dismount. It was for nothing as I never saw any bad scree or very dangerous areas as I was told. I guess the hikers just had no idea what a horse can do. But, getting over the bridge at Chinook Pass was interesting.
Issy had crossed many bridges but never with cars going under him and when a car came up under him he jumped straight up in the air and I wasn’t sure I could control him. Luckily, no other cars or trucks passed under his feet and we got to the other side where I found Pat sitting with the truck and trailer.
Leaving Pat and knowing she would move the trailer up to Snoqualmie Pass was a relief. My plan was to ride to Big Crow Basin and camp although it was only 11 miles there was a pretty steep climb and I was prepared for deadfall or other trail obstructions since I heard the trail had not been worked on like most of the trail before. We covered 13 miles (2 from Dewey and 11 from Chinook) with only a few trees down and none were any problem. We saw a big compound on the west – Crystal Mountain that had many trails to it and looked like a ski lodge with cabins. We travelled on to Big Crow Basin and camped close to there where there was some graze and water.
We were up and out on the trail early and Issy was hungry sooner than usual. We passed several nice fields with Issy pulling towards each one but I knew we had a much better place to stop ahead. Camp Urich was known for it’s fields, cabin and great camping areas.
We continued on and finally I saw the field adjoining Camp Urich and I turned Issy’s head so he could see the lush pasture. He knew instantly that that was our stop for the day.
It was only 12 miles but he deserved the time off and it made me feel good to watch him move slowly across the field eating and relaxing. I set up camp in some grand old trees, put up the highline and then just sat and watched Issy. This had to be one of the most memorable camps I had been at.
I heard about a good camp not far north of Sheets Pass which had a meadow and a spring so we headed there. We travelled for miles with no water and I was getting concerned when a group of marines came along. They were conditioning for Iraq, I was saddened to see our fine young fellows knowing they would soon be over there fighting. I enjoyed a brief conversation with them and inquired about water which they said they hadn’t seen any for miles. They asked if I needed any and I told them I was okay but I needed some to mix Issy dinner with. Within a moment they had 2 liters for me which they each gave a little in my canvas bucket. It was just enough so Issy could have his meal if I didn’t find any other water. Finally, at 21 miles we found it. It was down from the trail, there was a spring and the grass was tender and moist. The camping area was very buggy and I knew the mosquitos would carry us away if we stayed there so we filled up on water, had dinner and moved on to an area off trail with no graze or water. We settled in for the night knowing that tomorrow we would get to the trailer at Snoqualmie Pass.
Heading to Snoqualmie along a good trail water was again our issue. We followed the trail until it started to be congested! Hikers were everywhere, although only a few were distance hikers and most looked like day hikers. I had to lease Bo and lead Issy . The trail was very rocky but the scenery was lovely. Mirror Lake was the destination for most of the hikers and almost every spot around the lake had people. The trail away from Mirror Lake was very tough for Issy with large rocks, no footing and lots of people. Finally, we got to an old road and headed north going back into the forest passing high above Interstate 90. The trail here was greatly neglected since almost everyone came in from an access road. We continued on and finally after 4 miles saw the parking lot at Snoqualmie. The trailer wasn’t visible so I worried that I may not have given Pat good directions but I soon was rewarded by the white top of my trailer and we headed across the snow slope to it.