On Thursday, April 24th, I left the Anderson's Casa de Luna, where they had so kindly taken care of me and Takoda and Shyla, and headed for Hikertown, where we would have another warm welcome. Since a lot of the trail was closed due to damage from a fire last year, we had to ride along Pine Canyon Rd., which ended up being narrow and dangerous for the horses due to the trucks and cars whizzing by. In the end, I had Mom pick me up in the horse trailer and we escaped the thjreat of near death by motorized vehicle. But I plan to go back and ride the last six miles of the trail, which are still open, when Mom goes back home and leaves me after the weekend.

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This coming weekend is the annual festival in Antelope Valley for the California state flower--and the poppies were putting on a show. This day also marked the moment when I passed 500 miles on the trail . . . now that's something to celebrate!

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I have to add a word of gratitude for the many wonderful people who have helped me along the way, especially the amazing trail angels who open their homes and their hearts to those of us on the PCT. On Monday, April 21st, I arrived at the Saufley's in Agua Dulce--and promptly threw up. I had been riding for 18 miles from North Forks Ranger Station, feeling worse and worse; apparently, I had a case of food poisoning or managed to drink some bad water. Whatever it was, it did me in. If Donna Saufley hadn't been there to help with the horses and give me a place to recover, I don't know how I would have coped; I was very, very ill for hours, then dehydrated all the next day, and Donna was wonderful in helping me to feel better. Thankfully, once I got everything out of my system--rather violently--I recovered fairly quickly, and the next day my favorite horse shoer, Joe Vaca, made a special trip all the way to Agua Dulce to put new shoes on the horses. They were shod only twenty days earlier, just before I left to start the trail, but the 454 miles we've put on since then had worn the shoes paper thin in just those three weeks. After I left the Saufley's following a zero day, I was met with open arms by the Anderson's at their Casa de Luna, as they call their home which most people arrive at about a month after beginning in Campo. There they graciously turned over their backyard to my horses, even helping me to pick grass for the horses to eat the next morning, in addition to feeding me a delicious breakfast before I headed off to Hikertown. At Hikertown, Bob made room for my horses among the llamas and fixed up a room for me among the Old West frontier town setting there--and he even went out of his way to get a hot water heater going so I could have a hot shower! Of course, before this I had also stayed with Ziggy and the Bear (and the Bear had even gone hunting for me in the dark of the desert with my mom when I had trouble locating their house). And besides those who dedicate themselves to the PCT, I've also experienced such kindness from others along the way--Dawn Pierce at Paradise Valley Ranch, Jana Taylor at Shay Meadows Ranch, Wendy Melline at Proven Spots Ranch, the friendly Cherie and her husband at Crescent Moon Ranch--all people who have taken in my horses and me and enthusiastically and generously helped me along the way. I could be doing this without their help--and countless others every step of the way.

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I spent my Easter Sunday riding out of the Angeles Forest, heading towards Agua Dulce and a long awaited stay at the Saufley's; but first I was going to camp at North Forks Ranger Station with Takoda and Shyla. I had a new set of panniers (saving the bear resistant ones for the Sierras) and this was my first day using them. We got a late start due to some technical difficulties with the new equipment, but finally I was underway with the horses.

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I had been warned by many people about the dangerous conditions on Mt. Baden Powell, where snow was lingering at the high elevation (over 9000 ft.), especially on the north facing slopes. So my mom took advantage of the fact that I had a long ride before I got there to climb the mountain, taking a shovel to break a path in the snow if necessary. Most of the trail seemed clear, but it was just our luck that a freak storm blew in as I was headed up towards her. It started to thunder and lightning, and at the base of the mountain there was rain, but as I went higher, the rain turned to snow. Mom was already getting snowed on, so she headed down, and we met on the way. I thought the storm was beginning to let up, so I continued on, although the snow flurries continued even as I reached the top of the mountain. Finally the last thunderclap hit as Shyla and I wound along the spine of the ridge to the west of Baden Powell; I was going to exit the trail for the day at a point further along by Highway 2, where Mom picked us up in the trailer. The horse and I were thoroughly cold and wet by the time we arrived!

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As the storm clouds cleared, they left behind a beautiful view of the Angeles Forest.

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After I came over the top of Mt. Baden Powell (named for the intrepid founder of the Boy Scouts) I traversed a narrow ridge on my way to Dalton Saddle, where I would end my ride for the day.

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On the day that I rode up Mt. Baden Powell, a storm suddenly blew up the mountain with thunder and lightning and snow!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfJ9qqJY7Jc

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After a night at Silverwood Lake, where the rangers were very helpful in opening up a campground and making sure I had water for the horses (and a shower for me!), I headed down to the Cajon Pass and then toward Wrightwood. Meanwhile, Mom was meeting her friend Kim Williams' husband Larry Westrick and driving up to Big Bear to get the truck and trailer I left behind there (as well as picking up Shyla). When she got to Shay Meadow Stables, Jana, the wonderfully helpful woman who owns the stables and had been looking after Shyla after I left, told us that the vet was there, so we had him look at Shyla's legs. The things we had been doing had already helped a lot, and my vet in Topanga had also sent along some antibiotics and other treatments with my mom. But I was so relieved when the vet in Big Bear gave her a soundness exam and a clean bill of health to continue on the trail. I have been so fortunate to have so many supportive people at each stop along the way, and I was very grateful for Jana's help and glad that the vet thought she would recover from her sores without any problems. So I was feeling much better about things as I left the San Bernardino mountains and headed to Cajon Pass, where I crossed under the 15 interstate and headed into the Angeles forest and up towards Wrightwood, where Larry was helping my mom relocate nearby. We're going to stay for a couple nights with a woman named Wendy, at her Proven Spots Ranch in Pinon Hills; she has been incredibly kind in opening her home to us for the next couple of days as a base while we navigate the PCT through Wrightwood.

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Thursday was a very long day's ride (over 30 miles) on Takoda as we went from Silverwood into the Wrightwood area, where my mom met us on a dirt road off the PCT and took us to Wendy's for the night. Takoda was very happy to see Shyla again, and he'll be even gladder when he figures out that he's going to get a rest, as I'll ride her the next couple of days until I take both of them together again when my mom goes back to work.

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