Bomb Shelter and Tuna Can

by Gillian Larson | posted: June 8, 2016

So, I think the time has come to try to explain just how the heck I hope to complete this journey without having someone along with me most of the way. First of all, I will say that there is NO SUCH THING as an unsupported thru-ride on the PCT. Somewhere, sometime, you are going to need help--probably a lot of it, more often than you ever imagined. I know that I am incredibly grateful for all the people who are making this ride possible for me by helping out along the way. My mother is the ultimate road crew: she drove along with me in the early stages, moving from camp to camp, setting up the horse corrals or taking one or the other horse to a farrier, making sure we had water and food for the long stretches of the PCT in Southern California were there is no grazing at all and water sources are few and far between. Later, she would drop the horses and me off at one trailhead and then pick us up a few days later at another one so that we could do the trail in stages before I was able to ride full-time. Now she has helped me get the rigs positioned in Northern California after I skipped the Sierra until the snow melts, and she even drove north earlier than planned when Takoda needed to take a break and recover after he had a minor leg injury. But so many others are also incredibly supportive and go out of their way to lend me a hand. Right now our friend Pam Williams is letting my mother and I stay at her house, and she will watch Takoda for me and has generously offered to pick me up or drop me off at a trailhead if needed. She has been an amazing resource (and a lot of fun to hang out with too!). People that I meet along the trail or through the website have also been wonderful, giving me advice about trail conditions, passing on the name of a shoer or checking out the snow levels or promising a place to stop and rest if we need it. There is no way I could make this journey without being able to count on the kindness of so many people, some of them long-time friends, some of them brand-new ones--strangers who become friends through their open hearts and their genuine goodness. I am absolutely humbled by the help I receive from people who have no reason to give of their time or their homes or their knowledge or their financial assistance, but who do so anyway. It would not be possible to do this without them.

But I don't want to become a burden or routinely require someone else's time and effort if there is any way that I can avoid it; I'd like to be as self-sufficient as I can, even though I know there will be times when I must reach out and ask for help when unexpected events (like an injury or lost or broken equipment) mean I have no choice but to turn to others. One of the most anxiety-creating issues of my ride in 2014 was the problem of moving my vehicle as I rode north. During a good portion of that trip, my mother was along and could meet me and bring supplies and move the truck and trailer, but this time, even though she's still doing a lot, she's not travelling with me once I leave Southern California. What this means is that for very long stretches of the trail, I will have no one accompanying me, and I would have to take the time to drive the truck ahead and then hitchhike back or beg a ride from a friend (or ask someone else to move the vehicle for me, which I did a couple times in 2014 with mixed success--Paul Larson was so reliable and efficient and generous in northern Washington, but at other times people completely reneged on promises at the last minute, and I can't really blame them as it is a huge thing to ask of anyone, but it really left me high and dry). Plus, once my aunt Karen and my cousin McKinley drove for 20 hours round trip from Idaho to Washington and back to move a truck, then I almost couldn't get through on the trail and nearly was forced to turn around (but if I did, then the truck and trailer would have needed to be returned to where they had just been moved from!) and so the whole issue of safety and having supplies and transportation at either end of a trail section is another concern. Thus I am trying to address all of these dilemmas by having not one but two truck and trailer combos, loaded with food and supplies for me and the horses, and riding from one to the other, then moving ahead and riding back to the first one, over and over again as I progress along the trail. We've named the two rigs "Bomb Shelter" and "Tuna Can"--Bomb Shelter is my mom's big Ford F350 with an old, heavy 3-horse slant-load trailer, complete with corral panels and tack room and roof rack, and Tuna Can is my Dodge Ram with a tiny 2-horse straight-load trailer, fitted out with ways to strap extra equipment on the fenders and even the tongue of the trailer for lack of other places to put it. (Last time we had a second 2-horse trailer, my first one, affectionately named "Rust Bucket" but we sold it and got Bomb Shelter instead--and you can probably imagine why!). As far as how the whole leapfrog approach goes with the trucks, that is better explained with visual aids, so check out the video attached here for more details about that. And then keep your fingers crossed that we don't hit too many glitches along the way . . .


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