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June 18, 2019: Day One of Encampment Pack Trip

We got off to a very slow this morning, even after spending so much time packing yesterday. I’d like to think that this is because we are so meticulous. I think it’s because we don’t drink coffee.

It was actually tricky, going from car camping to horse camping. This is because you have to make decisions about what to leave behind. I really wanted to take my rubber boots, running shoes, and bucket and lid (this is my seat). But I left all behind because, as I was reminded, we do not want to overload Hrimmi.

Packing Hrimmi took the most time – the pack saddle has to be on just right – and also, both panniers must be of equal weight. So Pete uses a fish weigh scale, adjusting and readjusting as needed.

Alys drying out gear
Alys drying out gear

Just before noon Pete parked the truck and trailer down at the river trailhead, near the International Order of the Oddfellows entrance. Then, shortly after noon we headed down road, only to discover that we could not get around the cattle guard. There was no gate. So we backtracked, and took a back road route.

It was quite a way to begin a trip, our having to do a very steep climb on what was once a road and is now a trail. The horses were huffing and puffing. Of course, we gave them numerous breaks. Within minutes we could see our truck and trailer, now below at the distance.

It was sunny when we started out. But shortly thereafter, a storm front rolled in. We ate lunch in a low spot in a canyon, and then resumed going uphill. Shortly thereafter we encountered cows, which were on both sides of the trail and in the trail itself. All the horses were curious but unafraid. Ryder kept her distance, thank dog. The cows in front moved to either side of the trail – the babies on one side mooed for their mothers who were on the other. Ahead were gates, lots of gates, on the side of the cattle guards.

We kept going – we heard thunder and lightning at the distance. Interestingly, Pete and I didn’t say anything to one another. We were by now high up and surrounded by sage. There was no place to take shelter.

At the base of a very steep road a woman in a pickup stopped and asked if we were endurance riders – she said she asked because our horses were wearing boots. I said yes, we had done two such rides. Pete then told her that we were from Alaska and doing a long trip. She then said that we could take the road to the right, which was private property. This was fortuitous because this was the direction we wanted to go, but we were unaware that our route included about a mile of private land.

We stopped at the base of the hill and talked about camping in a grassy open area. I looked up and saw cows looking down at us. I said no because I envisioned them coming and checking us out. So we kept on going. Yes, this may have been a mistake because at the top of the next rise the sky opened up. It began hailing hard, and the sound of the thunder, now too close, was near deafening. We all dove into some bushes and waited for the storm to pass. Yes, this was very scary. Fortunately, the horses and dog remained calm the entire time.

We resumed riding in what now was a drizzle. We ended up camping in across from a privately owned cabin. We let the horses graze for a while before putting them on the highline. Pete strung up a tarp so we had refuge from the storm. And a huge stack of tree-length logs had cubby holes for our gear.

Soon enough, it stopped raining and the sun came out. I set up the tent and washed the horses boots (they get gritty) and Pete made dinner, beans and rice. As I said to him later, I would like to live here. There were several outbuildings – and electricity!

Next: 168. 6/19/19: Day Two – Taking time to Reflect on the Day’s Ride

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