Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2019 >Daily Dispatch #168

June 19, 2019: Second Day on the Trail – Taking time to Reflect on the Day’s Ride

I’m sitting on a log, watching the ponies graze. Pete’s put up the highline and is making dinner. We are camped about a half-mile from the Hog Creek Campground. We checked it out – it and other areas proved to be unsuitable for camping. Some areas lacked enough forage while others didn’t have water. Our campsite here has it all, grass, a place for highlining, a creek, and a level spot for the tent.

Lesson learned: I set the tent up next to a dead tree. Pete suggested I move it. I objected, saying it was just fine. To demonstrate, I went over and pushed on it. It creaked and groaned, and moved some under my hand. I didn’t say anything. Instead, I moved the tent into a clearing.

Pete, after he returned from locating water, said “You won’t believe this, but down below, there was this guy – he was walking around naked.” Apparently, he was getting cleaned up. Pete said there were horses and a camper. Shortly thereafter, the fellow, clothed, came to our campsite and introduced himself.

Britt, 77, was doing as we are, spending time riding, although for a shorter period of time. He appeared as though he’d been doing this forever. He had a long, stringy gray hair, and he needed dental work. He was quite thin, looked like he could use a few good meals.


Pete and Brit discuss the map
Pete and Brit discuss the map

Our telling him that we were from Alaska caused a look of recognition to cross his face. He said he’d lived here in the 1980s and worked out at Point McKenzie, which at that time was a burgeoning agricultural area. He also spent time in McCarthy, and knew Dorothy, our wilderness first responder instructor.

He kept talking, and after a bit, I ceased to listen to what receded into droning. My thought was that he was quite lonely, which was why I decided to go further afield, and graze the horses. I then let Pete, who raised no objections, continue to listen to this fellow.

The horses are now hobbled and grazing in a large green expanse surrounded by live and deadfall trees—spruce and lodge pole pine. The grass is bright green because the area is boggy. I discovered today that when the snow melts, marshy areas remain. I don’t feel comfortable riding through these areas because horses can go down in them. This field though, it is not too bad.

The sun, which is now low in the sky, is on my right. It’s breezy, not too cold. The sky above is a swirl of white clouds which contrast with the bright blue background. There’s one questionable dark mass, which in the twenty minutes I’ve been here, has grown larger. I suspect that we’ll again get rain tonight. Wildflowers are interspersed in the bunchgrass. I hear frogs. We don’t have them in Alaska, so this is a welcome sound.

The three horses are keeping me in sight and staying close. Their shiny red coats stand out against the green grass. The light behind them makes it look as if they are glowing. Yesterday, before setting out, we again cleaned Hrimmi’s wound and put gauze and vet wrap on it. We did the same this morning. The wound is clean, there is no infection. And she isn’t limping. Right now, she’s bouncing around with the others.

Our day began at what I called the Private Cabin campsite – it rained hard last night. I chided Pete because he forgot to pack the horse blankets. Next pack trip, we agreed, we’ll bring them along. As I told him, he would not want to be standing out there without any clothes on, in the cold rain. The same holds true for the horses.

This morning, the horses grazed while we packed up. Pete (again) did a meticulous job packing, making sure that Hrimmi’s pack saddle fit just right and that her load was well-balanced.

Our route took us up and over a pass. The trail eventually became a road, one with snowpack sections on it. We easily scooted around these sections. All the while, the horses remained energetic. I think seeing the snow reminded them of home. We passed a rock with a snoopy face on it – now, who painted that on there? I wondered.

It was all downhill the remaining portion of the day. In late afternoon, the hunt for a decent campsite began. And so, here we are.

It’s time for me to round up the horses, remove their hobbles, walk them back to the campsite, and put them on the highline. I’ll then give them their supplements, and after, eat my dinner.

Next: 169. 6/20/19: Encampment Pack Trip Day #3 – Commissary Park

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles