We camped overnight Sunday in the large dirt turnout by the road junction at Scissors Crossing, an event that was made even more dramatic by a med-evac helicopter flight that landed right beside us soon after the horses and I arrived that evening. Mom had gotten there earlier with the camper and trailer and set up our portable corrals--a brand new piece of equipment that we got to use for the first time. There are horse corrals at our first two overnight spots at Boulder Oaks and Sunrise Trailhead, but nothing but bare dirt at Scissors Crossing, so we were excited to make use of the corrals. But with the arrival of the fire trucks and ambulance, following soon after by the helicopter, all making use of the same big expanse of empty space where we were, we had to quickly throw halters on the horses and lead them up the hill to avoid the cloud of dust and the noise of the whirling copter blades. Of course our concerns were with the injured person, and afterwards we asked the paramedics if perhaps it was a PCT hiker overcome by heat in the desert trail leading to Scissors. Finding out that it was a horseback rider instead (not on the PCT, but a local resident) did not ease my concerns; it just reinforced how vigilant and careful I need to be every day as an equestrian, as even casual rides can go bad in the blink of an eye.
But after that chaos was over, we had a peaceful night, and early the next morning I set off to ride to Warner Springs, trying to get a start on what I knew would be a long, hard day before the heat got too intense. I am fortunate enough to have my mother driving a support vehicle to help re-supply my horses and me, as the lack of water is a huge obstacle in this southern stretch of the trail. I took along my second horse, Takoda, as a pack horse for the day's ride, loading him up with 22 liters of water for the horses to drink along the way. I knew there would be water available at Barrel Springs, but that was a hot, dusty 24 miles away, and I wanted to be able to offer the horses water before that point. Since I had the luxury of Takoda's packing help, I also brought along a lunch for them to eat when we took our water break, wanting to keep their calorie intake and energy levels up as much as possible for the job ahead.