Saturday, June 4, 2011

Help from the President of the Back Country Horsemen and Goodbye to Chance

June 4, 2011
12:25 AM

Another long and overemotional day is over.

I woke yesterday to beautiful sunshine and light breezes, but no text or message from Chance.  I began to get ready for my pick up by Cathy and Bill at 10:00 am, but I felt weary, sad, and confused.

I worked hard from 6:30 to 9:30 and managed to saddle the horses, move all the gear to gate, and clean up the manure from Butch's yard and driveway.  I visited a bit with DeAnn and showed her some photos that I had taken of her family.  At a few minutes before ten, I ran through the shower and felt a bit better.
DeAnn and her family

All through the morning I wondered about Chance.  Was he OK?  Why doesn't he call?  Is he coming back?  Will he try looking for a horse on his own?  Where is he?

Finally at 10:00 am, Cathy and Bill pulled up with their beautiful horse trailer, ready to run me down to Cabazon, to avoid the 9000 foot climb and 8000 foot drop from Anza.  The horses loaded beautifully as always, and I hugged DeAnn goodbye.  All six kittens are doing well.  I feel like I have new family in Anza now, and plan to return again one day.
Cathy and Bill trucked me and the horses to Linda's place.
Incredibly kind and generous people.

We drove the winding road again, and dropped into the valley.  It was then that I got the call from Linda, a Back Country Horsewoman.  Eventually we got the the highway near Cabazon, and Linda told me she would meet me there with maps so I could navigate the PCT a bit better.  She arrived shortly after we did, and it was then that I realized Chance had taken the water filter and that I was about to enter more desert.  Linda offered to lend me hers, and invited me to come back to her place in Cherry Valley and spend the night, then she would truck me over to the trailhead.

What wonderful people again.  The kindness of strangers just blows me away.  Makes me want to be a better person myself.  I was feeling emotional, angry, and sad that Chance was not communicating.    We joked about it, but as each hour of the day went by, deep down I felt abandoned and betrayed by my partner.

We pulled in to Linda's place.  Chip, her husband was standing by, ready to help unload my project.  All the gear, the horses, the saddles, the tarps.  Such a load!  Everyone helped and we were done, the horses rolling in the paddock in no time.  Turns out, Linda is a nurse, and Chip is President of the Back Country Horsemen for this region of California.  What gems!  We chatted for a while and talked horses and mules, as they had just returned from Mule Days in Bishop.  Lots of great stories.
Chip, Regional President of the Back Country Horsemen
Thanks for everything Chip!
Fed me, hauled my gear, put up my horses, gave me a bed, helped me set up a camp,
and then drove me all the way to Altadena so I could get my truck to pick up Clover.
And all with a smile and a friendly way.  What a guy!
Cathy and Linda.  Horsewomen and instant friends.
Hardworking, generous, kind, and in love with all horses.
My kind of gals!  
Backcountry Horsemen do much for the PCT, including offering incredible help to people like me.

Late afternoon, I got online and finally got an email from Chance.  He told me he didn't feel ready and didn't know how to gear up for hiking the PCT.  He sounded positive, but defeated.  He is not coming back.  I'm so disappointed, but I understand.  I was there - I know what he went through and how hard we tried to make it work. I'll miss him in the miles to come, and wish him the very best.  He must be so disappointed too.
Paul's salad creation.  Yum! 

Paul, Chip and Linda's engaging and friendly son, prepared us an amazing meal of fresh salad, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and grilled steak.  Wow.  COMFORT FOOD!  Linda pulled out map after map, and resource after resource.  We talked and talked.  She's a nurse also, so we have an immediate bond.  More new friends!  I start to feel happy again, and reassured that I can do this well on my own.

I'll miss the benefits of having a partner.  The safety factor, the shared load, the laughter, the friendship, the shared experience, the shared joy.

I wish you well on your journey, wherever you go, Chance.  We hoed a good row.  Too bad we didn't get to share the harvest.  I so appreciate all the good things you brought into my life.


  1. Well, at least he e-mailed so now you have some closure and can grieve and then move on. Sounds like the equestrian community has some wonderful PCT Trail Angels. With their support, and your tenacity, experience, and passion, your dreams will come true.

    Safe Journeys,
    Tijeras, NM