It seems I have used up my share of good luck on this trip, or at least I am running a little low. After having to turn around at Cayuse Janis and I decided to spend the night at a horse motel near Leavenworth then drive up to Stevens Pass the next day which would give us a much needed day of rest and put us back on schedule.
When we got to the Forever Young ranch we saw that BG had managed to cut her upper eyelid. Between the amount of blood and BG not cooperating it was hard to tell if it was just the eyebrow or if the eyelid or eye were affected also. Erring on the side of caution we loaded her back up and hauled her into Wenatchee to Countryside Vet Clinic. Dr. Kerr got BG anesthetized and discovered the damage to be minimal, three stitches closed the wound and for a very reasonable $125 we were headed back to camp.
As planned we moved to Stevens Pass yesterday where we were able to meet my daughter, Sky. Sky had brought the paper work we needed to get into and out of Canada. She was able to spend the night so we had a good visit before we saw her off this morning.
I haven’t packed in nearly 40 years, and I have never packed alone so I was a little nervous about going into what I’ve been repeatedly told is the toughest 125 miles of the PCT. We got loaded and on the trail, only had to turn around for forgotten items twice. The short in and outs showed BG’s load to be balanced and riding true. The first five miles was a gentle down grade on an old road, the horses posed no problems and I started thinking that part of the equation was going to go well.
Then the trail turned into another rocky, narrow side hill, the kind we have come to know so well. I was having to remind BG to stay back frequently as she was coming up on Mercedes hip with her head. I am not sure whether she stepped into a hole, or the trail gave out from under her, doesn’t really matter, the bottom line is she fell over the side of the hill tumbling and stumbling a hundred feet down the hill before coming to rest upside down against a log that kept her from rolling further. Naturally, I could only get to the off side of the rigging, but though it was a struggle we managed to get her unbuckled, unlashed and unsaddled.
While I was undoing BG, Joel, a Swedish thru hiker, chopped a trail down to where we were and hauled some of the pack back up to the trail. I was able to roll BG onto her side and then with a lot of encouragement she was able to regain her feet landing on top of me before we scrambled back to the trail. The hill side was really steep, Joel and I slipped and fell several times and were only able to arrest our falls by grasping brush, mostly devil’s club, ouch. I had a hundred foot length of rope that I tied to a tree and used to lower myself back down to the two remaining pack boxes. The rope didn’t quite reach but by working the boxes ten feet up the hill I was able to tie to the hanger straps and with me lifting and Joel holding the slack we were able to get all the gear back on the trail. I guess all the trail magic Janis has been dispensing paid off in a big way. Without Joel (pronounce YOU-EL) I would still be dragging equipment up the hill.
BG didn’t seem to be hurt in anyway, except for a large L shaped cut on her cheek. This cut was not going to close with three stitches. So off we went again, this time to Pilchuck Equine Veterinary Clinic in Snohomish where Dr Bryant and his staff very professionally treated BG. Four stitches, a dozen or more surgical staples, a bottle of antibiotic pills to be administered for the next two weeks and a $925 bill later we are on our way home to regroup and refresh before we make another attempt at those pesky North Cascades.
The moral of this story is if you have to take your horse to the vet, try to do it in a farming/ranching clinic not a suburban/metropolis clinic.
Stay tuned for further adventures.