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May 20, 2019: The Continental Divide Lodge

347.5 miles down the Alcan. Woke up in the tenting area of the Congdon Creek Campground. We were sort of clandestine camping, being in the tenting area with three horses and a dog. I took down the tent and the highline, and with rake and shovel, I made it appear as though there were no horses in the electric fence enclosure. We loaded the horses into the trailer and then ate breakfast at the picnic table. We worked quickly so if Mr. Ranger appeared, we’d be able to give him a blank look if he asked if we’d camped in the enclosure.

It was a long, long day on the Alcan. We’d hoped to make it to the outskirts of Watson Lake where Pete said there was a corral – this at the junction of Watson Lake and the Alcan. But by 7 p.m. we were both too tired to go any further.

All the dishes

We were motoring along, wondering where our entourage would spend the night when Pete happened to see a banner on the right side of the road, attached to a trailer. It read “Horses Welcome.” Next to it was a corral, or some semblance of a corral. It consisted of a handful of upright green and yellow panels. We stopped, got out of our vehicle, opened the horses’ trailer windows and went to check it out. There were indeed,panels in the front. However, the rear portion of the enclosure was held together with what looked like phone wire.

I did my usual inspection. The ground in the pen was rocky. The rocks were interspersed with older horse poop. In the center were three pines, all alive, so we would not have to worry about them being knocked over by the wind.

I told Pete that the enclosure, as it was, was dangerous. But Pete, not wanting to go elsewhere, said we should talk to someone. I followed behind him as he strode purposefully in the direction of a series of dilapidated outbuildings, one of which was a closed restaurant.

A tall, lanky fellow wearing a grease and dirt covered one-piece gray suit with reflector tape on it materialized from the far side of a building and headed in our direction. He said hello, and continued on in the direction of the enclosure. When asked, he said that yes, we could put the horses up in the corral. Together, the three of us moved and attached the panels, closing all the openings. He then turned to leave, adding that he’d keep the generator running for another hour, meaning that we’d have to make it quick if we wanted to load up on water.

He disappeared and we sprang into action. We pulled forth electric wire from the trailer tack room and then made the far side of the pen safe. I filled hay bags and hung them on the panels. We then both hauled our remaining water over to the enclosure and bungied it into place.

Pete made dinner on the tailgate: beans, rice, and tortillas. We decided to sleep in the truck because we were parked close to the highway. Before going to sleep I read a few pages of Bernice Ende’s Long Lady Rider. Her memoir is about her many long rides across the U.S. She appears to have endured considerable hardship, some self-created, like opting to spend a Montana winter in a barn. Hers, I thought, has been the gift of a long, long ride. Of course, I was envious because I have always wanted to do a long, continuous ride. Quite clearly, three months of travel is not going to seem to me to be like enough time out on the trail.

Next: 140. 5/22/19: Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

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