Day 96 or Discouraging news or it is time to pull the plug

Following Jim’s advice we trailered to the North Lake Trailhead, where we met the operators of Bishop Pack Outfitters.  This outfitter is a really nice operation that uses mules exclusively.  When I first questioned them about trail conditions the reply was they were cancelling the rest of their trips due to unsafe conditions.  After we talked a bit and they found out about our experiences they allowed that we could “probably” get to Vermillion Valley Resort, my next resupply, but it was doubtful that I could get past there to Red’s Meadow, our next planned layover.

I made up the packs so that I could head out in the morning, but after thinking about it all night, thinking about how tired I am of being cold, at 10,000 feet and above, it dips into the low 20s and teens at night and doesn’t ever get comfortable during the day, there has been snow on the ground since Olanche Pass, the reported ice conditions on the several passes I would have to cross at over 12,000 feet, the fact that the days have become something to endure rather than enjoy, the nights are a test of fortitude, it is becoming increasingly hard to keep the horses energy and condition levels up to a standard that I am willing to accept, it became clear it is time to pack it up for the year.

The bottom line is the winter of 2017 dumped a lot of snow in the Sierras, Siskiyou and Cascades, snow that didn’t melt until late summer, we just ran out of time.  I have ridden 2385 miles in some pretty tough country; the horses have done well, time to quit while we are ahead.  We did what we could, but you can’t control the weather.

Driving across Hwy 120 through Yosemite Park was proof enough that we made the right call, the lower level passes there, barely 9000 feet were snow and iced in, I really don’t want to see what it is like at 12,000.  Right now we are closing in on Merced, we are at 220 feet elevation, it is 88° – I can breathe, my feet are warm, home is only a couple days away.

The ridges near Tuolumne Meadows

11 thoughts on “Day 96 or Discouraging news or it is time to pull the plug”

  1. ok so there is always next year. kenny and i are just amazed that you have done all that you guys have done. one hell of a adventure (kenny says, i agree)

  2. You and Janis did not pack it in; but only rearranged your time frame. Thank you for really thinking things through. I am exhausted worrying about both you, Janis, and the horses.

    Look forward to a home visit.
    Love, Carolyn

  3. Sorry to see it end but glad the decision has been made. You have accomplished a lot and not in control of the weather! You should be proud of what you have done and you can check that off the bucket list! Now on to something new…….

  4. I have been enjoying your pictures and trail notes. Look forward to your finish. Thanks John and Janet trail magic BLT’s at Humbolt Summit.

  5. Dude and Dudette, your write-ups are so awesome. Just read day 96 & now I am seeing familiar sights in your photos. Glad you finally got a sampling of the views we know you love. Beautiful! Quite an accomplishment being the first equestrians to cross some of those passes. It will look even better when you return in tolerable conditions. GOOD CALL!
    D & P

  6. Truly an adventure of a lifetime! Hats off to you both and the horses. Thank you for sharing your adventure and amazing, beautiful pictures!

  7. I’m so proud of you both! One, for this HUGE accomplishment, and Two, for making the right decision. The last post you made, about the single track switch-backs on rock and ice…YIKES! I hope to see you both ensconced safely at Casa de la Pegg, very soon, with Mercedes and BG munching on grass in the big field! Congratulations!

  8. We have been following you since we met Janis at the Bonneville Dam trail head. What a wonderful adventure. Thank you for sharing. We shared your site with our BCH friends so I hope they will go back and look at all the posts. Would you be interested in giving a talk at our state WA BCH Rendezvous next March? You all did just great!

  9. I enjoyed your journey on horseback. It was amazing. Glad you decided to end on a high note. You can always go back next year and finish up in good weather. I can’t believe it’s snowing in the Sierras already. Enjoy the winter.

  10. When I ran across your story my heart skipped a beat. I am 56 years this year and I just had to let you know that you have at least lived my life long dream of riding the PCT. I have dreamed of doing that since I was a young teenager. I think I waited too long however. My health isn’t so great anymore even though I have horses still. I don’t think I could spend a whole day in the saddle anymore. It may be more possible if I had friends who were into horses. Since moving here in 09 I have not met anyone. Just wanted to let you know that you and your wife are my hero’s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *