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July 28, 2018: Oasis

Pete fretted all night about our clandestine camping at the Welcome Home guard station, in fact to such a degree that at 6 a.m., the crack of dawn, much earlier than usual, he got up. Me, I didn’t sleep very well – the reason was we had a late night dinner that consisted of pasta, pasta, and more pasta. Carbs late at night keep me awake.

We packed up and were out of camp by 8 a.m. This would have been a personal best except for the fact that we had not yet eaten and the horses had not yet eaten. Everyone’s nutritional needs were taken care once we were outside the no camping area. We rode a quarter of a mile down the trail and then pulled off to the side, into an area where there was a great deal of downed and standing deadfall, meaning seats to sit on, and tall grass.

Horses grazing at the Green Fork campsite

Pete unpacked Hrimmi in order to get at the cooking gear and food. I thought this unnecessary – we could have dug into the lunch bag and eaten dehydrated fruit and our home-made energy bars. But, the upside of this was that the horses got much needed grazing time – there were just a few springs of grass in the Welcome Home Not So Okay Corral.

By 10 a.m., our usual time of departure, we headed in the direction of Straight Creek Pass, which is in between Welcome Creek and Straight Creek. Before us was yet another climb along a ledge. I sneaked a peak at the creek down at the base of the canyon and felt an odd sense of vertigo. Pete announced that he’d left our two tea spoons on a log at the breakfast area – I replied that no, we were not going back.

The canyon trail opened up – we were now on a flatter deadwood trail. Soon enough, two Continental Divide Hikers came around the bend – we all stopped and talked. One was a male and one was a female. The female, in her 20s, petted Tyra and exclaimed that it was the first time that she’d ever petted a horse. They moved on and we moved on – my thinking was that had we met the night before, we could have camped in the same area. Then the woman could pet Tyra to her heart’s content.

Shortly thereafter we encountered our first horseback riders. A man and his wife, each riding large, lanky, leggy Tennessee Walkers passed us, all the while exchanging pleasantries. My thought was they didn’t linger because their horses would not stand still long enough for this. I understood that they often did day trips in the Bob and that they were not going far.

Later that afternoon we saw them coming in our direction and pulled off the trail. I got off Tyra and let her graze. The male of the group, older, wearing a cowboy hat, and smoking a pipe, pulled the pipe from his mouth, gestured to the side of the trail and said that the rule of thumb was that the smaller pack strings had to yield to the larger pack strings. We had a pack string of one, Hrimmi, so he and his wife, with no pack horses, were the ones who needed to get off the trail. I thanked him for this bit of information – I didn’t add that my reason for getting off the trail was to let Tyra graze for a bit.

He then told us that an inhabited Forest Service Guard station was minutes from where we were standing --- good news because we wanted information in regards to our upcoming trail plans. We were planning on first going over Elbow Pass and then Observation Pass.

His information was correct. Fortunately, two Forest Service employees were on site. We were soon on a first name basis with Alex and Delaney. Pete and Alex went over map particulars and Delaney and I talked about a wide range of topics, social and political included. She had recently graduated from college – the University of Puget Sound, with a liberal arts degree in Biology. Shortly thereafter she took a job with the Forest Service. Her current stint had brought her to this particular site by horseback. She pointed to a corral behind the cabin – there, in the hot sun, stood two horses and a half dozen mules. The plan was, the next day, to take two archeologists to a nearby site.

The pair said we could camp nearby – the campsite, they said, was quite nice. As it turned out, it was the best site on this trip thus far. There was a grassy meadow with graze for the horses, an established campsite, a place to highline, and easy access to a fast moving creek. We were pleased to have arrived here early in the day – it was hot, and the horses needed a break. Plus this provided us with more time to crow about our good luck.

Next: 207. 7/29/19: Deadfall Campground

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