truck. Off we then went, down the Glenn Highway. The birch are now changing color – and the Matanuska River is swirling and brown. And the termination dust, early snow, is now on the distant peaks. As I remarked, the drive alone would be worth the trip.
We pulled into the trailhead parking lot, and got ready to go. Vickie elected to walk Hunar, and put her empty containers in her backpack. I elected to ride Tinni, and put my empty containers in his saddle panniers. I ended up walking because, as I said, I needed the exercise. I put a lead line on Ryder (so as to keep her from running out into the road) and when finally we got a ways up the trail, I let her loose so that she might play with Indy, Vickie’s dog.
Up the steep switchback trail we went. We soon came to a downed tree, about eight inches in diameter. Didn’t bring a saw. No matter. Being the resourceful woman that we are, we came up with a workable plan. Vickie first led Hunar over the lowest part of the log. Then she lifted the limb and I took Tinni under it. It was a foot high. He popped over it with ease.
We continued on, up the switchback trail. There were (as before) several low lying limbs and some bogs, dicey but not overly difficult. Next, there were several ups and downs. The trail then straightened out, but became tussocky and boggy.
I was wearing my bog boots – sort of a bad choice. I had no support, so at times walking was difficult. But then I was able to easily lead Tinni through the bogs without worrying about getting my feet wet. Together, Tinni and I took our time, with me stopping and letting him have grass breaks.
We soon arrived at our patch – an open meadow. Vickie staked out Hunar and I let Tinni run loose. There was good news and bad news. The good news was that there were berries in abundance. The bad news was that Indy, Vickie’s dog, had had an encounter with a porcupine. Oh oh. We pulled out about a dozen quills with our hands – two remained – one was stuck in his snout and broke off when Vickie tried to remove it with her teeth. The other had lodged itself inside his leg and could not be removed. Dang, I thought, we should have brought a saw and a Leatherman along.
Went to take a photo. Realized that my camera was missing its card. Should have brought a saw, a Leatherman, and a camera card along.
Indy wasn’t acting like she was in pain, so we decided to stay put and pick. Actually, I didn’t pick. Instead, I rolled the berries off the branches, into my containers.
I focused on what I was doing. Around 6 p.m. I looked up, glanced around but didn’t see Tinni. He was, I soon discovered, about a half mile away, at the base of the ridge. Apparently, he thought the grass was greener there. Vickie and I both trudged through tussock and bog, and retrieved him. Me, swearing because I could not get up speed in my boots.
Should have brought a saw, a Leatherman, a camera card, AND a cowbell along.
Tied horse to tree, resumed picking. Picked until 7 p.m. and called it good. It was an hour walk out. We both rode our horses a part of the way. Both Hunar and Tinni were eager to get back to the trailer, so they were booking. At one point Tinni’s leg went way down in a bog, and I nearly came off and hit my head on a tree. But, somehow we righted ourselves and kept on going, much to my great joy and relief. Again, we finally came to the low-lying limb – this time we reversed our previous process, this time having Tinni go under first, and then having Hunar jump the log. This worked well. And Ryder waited at this very spot for me to attach her to the lead line.
We were efficient – didn’t need headlights, though the next time I’ll bring one or two along.
It was a two-hour drive home. The low lying light illuminated the birch trees and the river. A half-moon appeared in the V of the mountains. I could only think that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Got back to my place at 10 p.m. Vickie got home at 11 p.m. We first unloaded gear, horse, and dog, then sorted our berry haul. I got more than my share, so I’ll give Vickie some jars of jam. I was left thinking that the trek was worth the effort. The fact that we now have berries in abundance is an added plus. How cool is this? Got friends, got horses, will travel.
Next: 236. 9/4/14: Lessons to be Learned: The Dressage Schooling Show