Chapter 5 – Notes from the sidelines
We are home now for a few weeks rest, horses are out enjoying green grass and their pasture buddies. At the request of a few, here is chapter 5 of my “sidelines” stories, describing the last few days of our PCT Adventure, phase 1.
Leaving Landers Meadow, I drove back down Piute Mtn Rd and was pleased to see that the road crew had finished the road grading project, making my drive easier than I anticipated. Rose, BG and I drove to the Lake Isabella KOA to refill our water tanks and proceeded to Lake Isabella to fuel up and find a pair of hind shoes for BG. I also stopped to buy a few pre-mixed salads and a pre-cooked chicken breast. A cold salad for dinner on a hot day was a real treat for us.
Our destination was Bird Spring Pass. Before we left home for this trip, the truck routes had been loaded in the Garmin Nuvi. Unfortunately, once we were on the road, the routes disappeared so I spent quite a bit of time studying maps. Backing up on narrow dirt roads was something I wanted to avoid. We drove 5 mph for over an hour, finally reaching our parking spot for the night. The top of Bird Spring Pass which was not set up for trailers and I needed to turn around. I started to maneuver the trailer when a voice from the shadows called out and asked if I needed a spotter. I looked up the hill and saw 6-8 hikers huddled under a Joshua Tree, resting in the shade. I laughed and said “oh good, an audience” which brought laughter and encouragement. I got the trailer turned around and parked in just the right place with minimal effort and received a round of applause for my efforts.
Next morning the hikers that camped with us were up early, ready to tackle the long steep climb they faced that morning. Gary and BG started up the trail as Mercedes, Rose and I drove down to the next camp, Walker Pass, an easy paved drive. We pulled in and saw another horse trailer parked, which I parked alongside. The driver was Bryce, the other rider’s husband and crew. We exchanged introductions and after I got my horse taken care of, we sat with the trail angels who had set up an amazing selection of beverages and food for the hikers. The look on each hikers face when they saw the food was priceless. We saw the hikers who had left Bird Spring Pass that morning, among them “Milwaukee Bob” who talked about home and his daughter, who he hoped could join him soon. Gary and Phyllis, the other rider, arrived and at one point there were quite of few of us huddled around the picnic table and “trail magic”, all talking and laughing at the same time. It was an especially nice day with the abundance of hikers that came and went… such a variety of people from all over the world and of all ages.
The drive to our next camp, Chimney Creek Campground was long but much of it was along a highway. I parked in a great spot only to have someone in a US Government truck tell me the campground was closed so I moved to a wide spot on the gravel road, 500’ from the PCT trail crossing. I didn’t unpack because Gary was unsure if he could actually make it to camp. We knew a trail crew had cleared trees up to mile 668 or 669 but we weren’t sure Gary could ride the next 12 miles – dozens of trees were reportedly down and getting past them with a horse would be challenging. I waited a few hours and just when I started to unpack, Gary texted and gave me a location to meet him. Bryce was parked at the trail crossing and was walking up to ask me if I had heard anything. I told him Gary was turning back and found the location we needed to be on the laptop maps, then on the Nuvi and plotted a course. It was 3 miles as the crow flies, but 8 miles on a steep windy road. Bryce had been warned that this road included a massive boulder that had come down and the forest ranger was not sure we could make it past that boulder. We set out for the bottom of the hill, several thousand feet down. We finally saw the boulder on the road and were able to get by with about a foot to spare – piece of cake!
We reached the location Gary had mentioned and within 20 minutes I saw him riding toward us. After texts were received from Phyllis, Gary went back up the trail to help her find her way out to where we waited. Bryce and I had decided it was time for a large adult beverage, and after Gary and Phyllis both arrived, we all drove to a quiet spot along Lake Isabella to camp for the night, took care of the horses then sat in our trailer talking about the day’s ride and the frustration of having to turn back. Gary and I planned to head for home to give the horses a rest and wait for the snow to melt while Phyllis and Bryce stayed to ponder their next move.
Sunday evening, we arrived home to rain. I hadn’t seen rain other than a few sprinkles, since I left home 30 days earlier! It took me a day to adjust to no travel. I’ve had just enough time to get all the laundry done, repack clothing in the trailer, make the bed and prepare a shopping list for our resupply. The trailer will soon be ready for phase 2. Now we need the weather to cooperate. Hard to imagine the snow all melting when it is still snowing in places. Stay tuned… more in a month!