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July 4, 2015: Experiential Knowledge

A tough day – though one with several happy endings. It began for me waking to the sound of horses neighing. I got up (a real feat considering the state of my still sore back), and upon clambering out of my tent, I discovered that there were two newcomers in camp. Krissy and her father Steve were standing next to their horses, and looking down at me. They got up really early, drove to the trailhead from Wasilla, and then rode their horses in the five miles to camp. They were originally going to ride in and camp with the posse – I never did find out where they set up their camp. In my mind, it was just more people and horses to deal with in camp.

I looked around and noticed that several riders were grazing their horses on the far side of the camp creek. All were riding bareback and none were wearing helmets. Some were riding their horses without bridles, and instead using halters.

Seeing them, it came back to mind, my falling off Raudi, onto the creek bed. This mental image was what prompted me to say “Seeing you all not wearing helmets makes me nervous.” This ,I immediately realized, was the wrong thing to say, the absolute wrong thing to say. This was because they paid me no mind.

There was hardly any grass in camp, which was why Pete and I elected to take Raudi, Hrimmi, and Tinni across the creek to where the other horses were grazing. Pete rode Raudi and ponied Hrimmi, and I walked Tinni across. Others followed us. There were by then ten horses and riders in this tiny area. It was a cluster fuck. Once our horses had their fill, we took them back across the creek. I followed Pete, again walking Tinni.

Tinni all the sudden pulled away from me and bolted off. So our morning was spent looking for Tinni. Pete, riding Raudi, and me on foot, headed back in the direction of the Parks Highway Trailhead. Via phone, the posse (who’d camped in an adjacent area) were alerted to the fact that Tinni was missing.

Pete got ahead of me at the creek crossing, and was soon out of sight. I continued to trudge along, my feet were by now wet in part because my Muck boots were falling apart. There were some gentle climbs, and some awesome views. I just was in no mood to remember them. Scary, to think of Tinni continuing on to the trailhead, and perhaps onto the adjacent Parks Highway. I also couldn’t help but to think about how I’d lost face in letting go of Tinni’s lead rope when back at the basecamp creek. Up until that point in time, all had been going quite well.

Finally, at a point when we were three-four miles out, Pete came riding back in my direction. He heard on a borrowed cell phone that Tinni had been found by Krissy and Steve and they’d lead him back to camp.

Lessons learned: 1. Keep your mind on the task at hand. Tinni got away because at the moment he jerked free, I was obsessing about the non-helmet wearers. 2. Hang onto your horse. 3. If you must go searching for a horse, take food and water with you. This would have made the end portion of my walk, where I got misdirected, far easier.

Others were leaving for a ride when we finally got back to camp. Had a nice, peaceful afternoon, tending to horses and reflecting on Tinni’s behavior. Quite obviously, I was not reading him very well. If I had, I would have realized that he wasn’t happy with there being so many horses and people in the camp area. All total, there were 34 horses and 28 people milling about.

Once Pete returned from his ride (on Raudi) we took the horses back across the camp creek so that they might again graze. Cathy (BCHA president) soon rolled in and said that her bear pepper spray container had punctured. And she got dosed, as did her horses. She left her front packs behind. As I write this, I’m resting in the tent, and waiting for the other riders to return, hopefully safely.

Next: 172. 7/5/15: Horses as Teachers

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