Bizarrely, it has proven easier to embark on an epic journey involving 3 horses and 2 women crossing the continent on foot, than to get this blog functionally up and running. We are currently in Redwood Valley, CA, having left the Apple Farm in Philo on Columbus Day in the pouring rain.
“We” are a traveling herd of 5: Sea G Rhydr aboard Jesse James, Gryph Wulfkil atop Vaca Suerte, and our stalwart pack pony, the heart of the journey, Saint Finehorn. Thus far we have been truly blessed in terms of weather, geography, havens, humans and herd.
we were invited up to Highland Ranch (where Sea and Jesse James worked as trail guides all summer). We arrived soaked to the skin; Gryph on Jesse, Sea on Vaca, Finehorn carrying nothing at all. We got the horses settled into their paddock and moved into the yoga yurt for 4 days. Our friend Moss arrived that evening bearing the packsaddle he’d custom-made for Finehorn (in 3 days!) and all of our gear (blessedly dry.) For four days we worked hard, sorting gear and riding out with the horses on the spectacular Highland Ranch trails, provisioning and working with Finehorn and packing.
Gryph and Vaca are both pretty green (Gryph had cantered exactly once before Vaca Suerte ran away with her the first time we tried to take a trail ride) but by the time we left Highland Ranch on the 14th of October Sea was back on her beloved Jesse James, Gryph was on Vaca Suerte and Finehorn was fully loaded and coming into her own. We made it as far as the Apple Farm.
The next day Sophia sorted us into a Diamond Hitch and we were following the Navarro River to the Pacific Ocean by 1:30pm. The plan was 2 1/2 days. The reality was 4 1/2 days. The learning curve was intense. We met men who gave us maps. We got lost anyway. Every Day. Finehorn’s packs slipped sideways and had to be reconfigured. Every Day. Still. Today. One hour down the road we have to stop, unload everything, re-sort it and pack it all back on. Live the question: do we have enough of the requisite skills to pull this off? Can we learn the rest fast enough to keep the 5 of us safe and sound?
Already it seems strange to sleep where we can’t look out of our pyramid tent and see our ponies grazing. Finehorn and Jesse James have come a long way with their tether training. We can leave them tethered to graze on 30′ cotton ropes and for the most part they do really well, and if they do get tangled in something they wait patiently for us to come free them. We have even started leaving them on their tether ropes at night – much more comfortable for them. Vaca Suerte is another story! She has no respect for ropes so she gets tangled easily – and then panics. We’re dealing with this by leaving her free to roam during daylight hours (she doesn’t stray far from the herd) and then tying her high to a tree at night with a rope short enough that she can’t get into a mess. As long as she’s tied close to her buddy Finehorn she’s reasonably content, and it’s better than risking an injury.
There is so much to tell, but also much to do – this post is mostly to say that we are safe and well and learning – photos will follow soon, along with a route map.
Tomorrow we head towards Clear Lake – and further adventures!