by Gillian Larson | posted: April 8, 2014

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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