Day Two

by Gillian Larson | posted: April 2, 2016

My second day featured a very long trek from Boulder Oaks up Laguna Mountain to Sunrise Trailhead, 34 miles in all. Shyla set a strong pace all throughout the day. We stopped at one point to document a water trough and possible camping site on Laguna Mountain about 15 miles into the day, which could be an important resource if we weren't able to cover the whole distance. Campsites suitable for horses are difficult to find--sometimes there is grass, but no water, and sometimes water but no grazing. This spot had both, which is a real find, especially here in the southern end of the PCT where water is a scarce commodity. Knowing where it is possible to camp with a horse is a necessity, as you can't carry enough water for the horse and planning is a must. The lack of available information was a real obstacle on my first trip, and I'd like to help others have the kind of knowledge I wish I had available to me in 2014. The first time I had to learn on the fly even though I tried to educate myself as much as I could, but there are definitely things that only experience can really provide. This second time around should be easier (and safer for me and the horse) now that I had a better understanding of what I am up against. So far it’s been amazing to not even have to look at my maps. I can’t believe how much I remember, and it feels much more intuitive this time. Last time I struggled to see the big picture, to comprehend all the many different obstacles along with the changing terrain. Some of what I learned is simply practical, such as the benefits of caching water partway through the first day this time in order to make it easier for the horses. This time I have more confidence about how to plan my days. Traveling with a horse gives me far fewer options than the PCT hikers have; I can’t just stop when I’m tired or rest along the way if it’s not also a safe and secure environment for my horse. It’s a partnership between the horse and me—she helps me to cover the trail, and in return I promise to take care of her to the best of my ability and to make sure that she has food and water and shelter and the best equipment and supplies that I can give her. But in order to do that I have to be able to anticipate what lies ahead, something that I feel much more able to do this time around.


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