It was a long day, but we made it to Idyllwild and settled into McCall Memorial Park (which we had entirely to ourselves) just in time to see this gorgeous sunset.

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Paradise Cafe is a famous destination on where the PCT crosses Highway 74 outside of Idyllwild . . . and this sign is meant to give tired hikers hope. This where I began my day on Wednesday on Shyla, with Highway 54 and the cafe as ending point. Along the way, I crossed paths again with my three Russian friends (who now had a new horse to take photos of) and I also saw the same young woman I had met along the trail the day before. All four of them were concerned about how they might get into Idyllwild after reaching the highway, as there is a section of the PCT that is closed between Highway 74 and Idyllwild due to a previous fire there making the trail unsafe. I promised to try to provide a ride to them if I could the next day.

Around 2:30pm, I met my mom, who was riding Takoda down the trail so we could switch horses. She had earlier driven the camper to Paradise Cafe, then got a ride back with Dawn, and now another PCT volunteer, Lawrence Peabody, was helping by guiding her with the truck and trailer to meet me at a water cache off of Coyote Canyone Rd. in Anza; she said that if Lawrence hadn't been helping her, she probably never would have found the place. It down was another long, bumpy, difficult dirt road, and when the truck tires started spinning up a hill, she parked the trailer and got on Takoda and rode him the rest of the way to join me. Takoda and Shyla gave each other their usual enthusiastic greeting when they caught sight of each other on the trail, and they weren't happy when I switched saddles and rode Takoda the rest of the way while Mom took Shyla on to McCall Memorial Park, where we were going to camp that night. Before I got on, I had to pick several cactus thorns out of Shyla's front legs. I had first encountered the nasty choya cactus while I was riding with Tattoos, and he advised me to bring along tweezers to make removing them easier, so at least I was prepared for the task this time.

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I found this little guy as I was riding towards Highway 74 on Wednesday. He's so adorable!

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On Tuesday I faced the first of what I'm certain will be many challenges along the way when I encountered a tree blocking the trail--or rather, the first of what turned out to be two separate downed trees. I had purchased a saw and a folding shovel as ways to cope with things like this, but unfortunately I didn't have either of them with me on this day; I was thinking that during this section the water issue was my main concern. I was on Takoda at this point; I started the day at Barrel Springs (where I left off on Monday) by riding Shyla 8 miles to Warner Springs, where the community center there has a wonderful PCT support center, with dedicated volunteers helping hikers by preparing food, doing laundry, providing showers and internet service--all the necessities of life! There even turned out to be some horse corrals there, and if I had known that ahead of time, we could have camped there the previous night. At Warner Springs I switched to Takoda and continued on for another 18 miles, passing the three Russian hikers who had met Takoda the day before at Barrel Springs. They took some more photos, and later I met another woman on the trail and we walked together for a while and got to know each other. She had hiked the Appalachian Trail previously and was now attempting the PCT. Eventually she stopped to camp for the evening, while I continued on, trying to reach Lost Valley Road, a dirt road where my mom was going to pick us up with the trailer and take us back to Paradise Valley Ranch. That's when I came across this tree. It took me quite a while to remove some branches and get a place where Takoda could finally go over it--which he wasn't all that thrilled about doing, although he finally did. By this time we were only about two miles from Lost Valley Road and I really didn't want to turn back! Then around the next corner was the second tree, but this one was high enough that when I took off the saddle Takoda was able to squeeze underneath it. It was getting dark when we finally met up with my mom and began the long, slow drive back to Paradise Valley Ranch. When we were most of the way there, we saw Ford Bronco pass us going up the hill, then turn around and follow us back down--it turns out the Bronco belonged to the son of Dawn Pierce, the manager and trainer at Paradise Valley Ranch, who got so worried about us being late (and couldn't get ahold of us because there was no cell reception on Lost Valley Road) that she sent her son out to look for us! I have been so touched by the warm welcome and support that everyone along the PCT has offered us and the way that people are so generous and caring--it really makes it feel like I don't have to do this all alone.

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The green and shady oasis of Barrel Springs felt like heaven after the long, hot, and barren ride across the spine of the hills up from Scissors Crossing. There was a pool with water tricking into it--where Shyla was very happy to get a drink at last!

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​While I was crossing my 100 mile trail marker on my way from Scissors Crossing to Barrel Springs on Monday, my mom was moving vehicles to keep up with me. First we drove both vehicles to Scissors Crossing where she dropped Shyla and me off to start our trek, then she drove to Barrel Springs where she let Takoda graze for a while on the nice green grass there. She also met three Russian hikers who took lots of pictures of Takoda and seemed enamored of the horse. Then she took Takoda to Paradise Valley Ranch, where we planned to camp for the next two days while I was riding this section. After that, she went back to Barrel Springs and parked my truck and trailer there, then rode her bike back on the road to Scissors Crossing to pick up the camper and the other horse trailer that we left there. Along the way she passed this tree full of shoes . . . perhaps thrown there by PCT hikers with blisters?!

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This wild turkey was digging around in the grass, looking for good things to eat, at Barrel Springs.

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It might not look like much, but it still felt good to see this marker indicating that we'd passed 100 miles--and obviously the people before me who took the time to make this thought so too!

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Today found me passing a milestone when I reached 100 PCT miles on the way from Scissors Crossing to Barrel Springs. It was one of the hardest stretches of trail that we've had so far, as we wound along the spine of a ridge through rocky, barren terrain. Mile 100 came just before we arrived at Barrel Springs, with its cool and refreshing shade and welcome water trickling into a trough.

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On Sunday we shifted campsites, moving to Green Valley horse camp in Cuyamaca State Park. It really wasn't all that conveniently located for what we were doing, and if we had known about some other possible options we probably would have done something different, as we had to do a lot of driving between here and Scissors Crossing, where mom picked me up on Sunday and dropped me off again on Monday, but it was a beautiful campground, and I had gone horse camping at Cuyamaca years ago with my first horse, Sparky, a white Arabian gelding, so I had many good memories to revisit there. And by the way, this is what our caravan looks like traveling down the road--the camper and "rust bucket" with extra food and equipment, and my truck and trailer, which I'll be trying to keep with me for resupplying the horses and myself along the way as we proceed with the PCT once my mom can't shadow us for support any longer.

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