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July 1, 2020: Beyond Words

I’m now camped out at the Gold Mint Trailhead Campground, on the home side of Hatcher Pass. I did it. I rode the horse of my dreams up and over Hatcher Pass, as I planned to do last summer, on the way home from the Lower 48.

Pete and I got up early and met up with Claudia Sihler and Sarah Gotshall, as planned, at the Trunk Road Park and Ride. Claudia had her chestnut Icelandic, Ketla, tied to her trailer, and her gear on her truck tailgate. We brought Hrimfara along for Sarah to ride. I was glad that Sarah opted to ride Hrimmi because I knew this would put Raudi more at ease.

I was right. Once we got going, Raudi was a little on edge. She was hypervigilant, noticing things that she usually does not

Alys and Raudi and Sarah on Hrimmi-photo by Claudia

notice, boulders and tree stumps included. Hrimmi, walking a ways behind, simply did not care about the roadside sights. When Raudi picked up a trot, I let her trot because otherwise she would have begun to put her energy into fighting me.

A heavy equipment vehicle appeared behind us about 20 minutes into our ride. Raudi saw it out of the corner of her left eye and heard it and bolted. I dismounted and let it go by. Sarah noticed that Raudi’s boot was askew. I stopped and fixed it. I got back on her and noticed that she had a hitch in her getalong. I got off – Claudia said that perhaps there was a rock in her boot. Turned out she was right. I then breathed a sigh of relief for if Raudi was lame, I’d have been beside myself.

This five-minute scenario knocked the wind out of my sails. Two more construction vehicles passed shortly thereafter, then later came back the other way. Upon their return, Raudi, who by now had expended some energy, was much easier to deal with.

It was slow going for the first ten or so miles, because there was a gradual uphill. It was a road ride, and I am sure the horses would have preferred to be out on the trails. As I told Raudi and Hrimmi, the next trail adventure, our place to Sutton, would be on trails and therefore more to their liking.

There was quite a bit of car traffic the entire day.

We ate lunch at the edge of roadside thicket. There were trees to tie the horses to, and tall grass that made them happy. I shared my chocolate bar with Sarah and Claudia.

Our lunch stop timing was fortuitous, because after the grade steepened. Now we had a ridgetop view and could see what sort of vehicles were heading up and down. I have to say that all the drivers were quite courteous. I suspect that we lucked out in that most tourists probably presumed that the pass road would open on July 4, and therefore would then head on over.

We soon found ourselves above tree line. We took a trail shortcut about a mile from the top, Summit Lake. It was here that Sarah lost her cellphone. I wasn’t up for Claudia’s idea, that we crest the last part of the climb, going up and over a gravel berm, but figured, well, if Katla fared well doing this, the other horses would too. And so, up and over we all went, to Summit Lake.

The well-wishers kept their distance. This seemed to me to be so different than the scene we encountered at the summit of the Vail ski slopes. People are now keeping their distance, as they should. Made me wonder if things will ever go back to the way they were before the virus hit.

We walked down the far side of the summit – I was the first to see our trailer and Pete in the pulloff, next to Hatcher Pass Road. I told Raudi how proud I was of her and gave her a treat. I then realized I’d erred – I’d brought a fanny pack full along, and did not, as planned, give them to her and Hrimmi at lunch.

Next: 183. 7/2/20: Full Day

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