One morning in 1984 I was doing my bus runs when I saw a saddle horse and pack mule tied up at a restaurant in Graham. I thought it was kind of odd because normally you don't see that kind of thing. On my afternoon run, I saw another girl at the top of the Graham hill with a saddle horse and a pack mule talking to someone. Later that week I saw a story on TV about these two girls who were riding from Mexico to Canada. So the next day after my morning runs I called Channel 13 asked if they knew of the whereabouts of the girls. Channel 13 said they had interviewed them near Snohomish and thought they would probably be in the next town.
I called my dispatcher at work and asked to have the rest of the afternoon off. I wanted to catch up with these girls and find out about the Crest Trail. I caught up with, Bunny Bouvier and Elaine Kay, late in the afternoon on a road to Arlington. They said it was snowing in the Mt. Adams area and they were riding the roads from Mt. Adams to Canada to finish their trip. I talked with Bunny Bouvier over dinner and found out many interesting things about the trail and their trip.
After I got home, I called Connie Robbins, a friend, and told her about the girls and their trip. On the weekend Connie and I rode our horses the last twenty-mile stretch from Deming to Sumas with Bunny and Elaine. We talked with them about their trip and found out that it had cost each of them $7,500. There was a party at the end of the trip and we got to meet a lot of people from the Lupus Foundation, the organization that had sponsored their ride. It all got me to thinking that I was finally going to do it.
I bought all of the books I could find on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and read them to find information to help me on the ride. I joined the Pacific Crest Trail Club because Bunny and Elaine had said it was great help to them, and they got a lot of information from it. I was not as lucky. Reports I sent for I never received. However, I picked up a report that the club had published on 64 individual Crest trips. I found interesting information about the equipment and food that the hikers had used and it gave me some ides.
I didn't go for backpacking food because it was so expensive. I really didn't have much money for the trip. I started buying different dried foods from super markets. I understand a lot of hikers do this. I tried them out, and they turned out to be pretty good. I bought different dinners and divided them in half and then sealed them with seal-a-meal machine. It cost me about 40 cents per dinner in comparison to backpacking dinners, which cost from $3 to $4 a dinner. I did order dehydrated vegetables that turned out to be a mistake. It cost me more for those vegetables than it did for all of the rest of the meals I put together for a day. I planned hot soups for lunch and that turned out to be a mistake, too. I read in a 64 Trip Report from Pacific Cresters that some of the people also had that problem, but I had already bought a lot of this food before I read the report.
It was so hot during the summer that we did not stop to cook anything, for lunch, but that is getting ahead of my story. I spent quite a few months preparing my supplies. I figured on going alone, because I didn't know anybody who could take enough time off from work during the summer to do the trip. Sometimes trying to get other people to go with you gets to be more of a hassle than it is worth.
As I was talking to Roy Caple, a retired friend, he said he would like to do part of the Crest Trail. He wanted to ride from Ashland, Oregon to White Pass in Washington. I told Roy I had already bought my food, he wanted to use canned food instead of dried foods, it worked out okay. Later on in the trip, we told Roy that if he lost has can opener he would starve to death. He was a lot of fun and I enjoyed having him along. I'm getting ahead of myself again.
Lois Adam, a friend from Seattle, came down to go riding and have dinner with me. I called up another friend, Pat, and invited her to dinner, also. We sat around talking about the trip I was going to take.
Well, I have dreamed about that longer than you have, Pat said. "The reason is that I'm older than you." She wanted to go along for the whole trip.
I told her I already had bought my food. I had almost all of it by the end of January. She would have to buy her food separately.
I think it was March when Pat decided that she would like to go. Mother was pleased that Pat decided to go she really frowned on my riding by myself. She knew that I was going to do it even if I couldn't get anyone to go with me.
|I decided to take all four of my horses, two seven-year-olds and two three-year-olds. I didn't want to leave them home for my mother to have to worry about. Taking them all with me meant a lot more work and expense. I needed three saddles for packing three horses. I had one of my own, and I borrowed one from my uncle. I bought all new pads and a lot of different gear, which added to the total cost of the trip. Backpackers don't have to buy that kind of equipment or feed for horses. I spent $1,500 before I even left home to start on this journey. This included books, maps, club membership, grain, my food and equipment like the saddle pads and two preliminary trips to Oregon.||
left 2 three years olds right 2 seven year olds
The first trip to Oregon was to find places to drop off food and the second was to make the drops. A food drop is usually a post office or a store along the trail where you can have your food and supplies mailed or delivered. You can pick them up when you come through the area, with a six or seven day ride between each drop. Grain for the horses was a problem. You can't mail 80 pound sacks of feed. We did a lot of checking on feed and found one place that gave us a good price on two tons of grain. I planned to feed 32 pounds of grain a day. That was eight pounds per horse. Roy and Pat planned to feed six pounds a day per horse.
I sent letters to all of the places we were going to use for food drops to see if they would have a place to put grain and food boxes. During my spring vacation in April, Mom and I went to Oregon and checked all the places, planned for food drops. I wanted to make sure that they understood what it meant to have seven sacks of grain left at their places.
First, we went down to Ashland, Oregon to find out where to start my ride. I chose to start on the Mt. Ashland Road, ten miles south of Ashland, which was as close as I could get to the California-Oregon border. I had a little bit of difficulty finding the trail. We met a truck driver, and he told us where the trail started. We had missed it; we didn't drive far enough up the road the first time. There was a wide area where we could pull off our rigs and camp for the evening.
The next stop was Crater Lake that would be our first food drop. We would be seven days on the trail before we reached this point. A lot of backpackers use this spot for a food drop. I basically picked sites the hikers used. There was snow eight feet high in April, but we managed to get to the post office and talk with the park service people there. I had written them a letter earlier, and they just sent me a bunch of brochures that had no information other than to tie your horses and picket them out.
The ranger said they did not have room for seven sacks of feed. I said that was why I had written ahead of time, to ask if there would be a problem. He said if I mailed the feed, they would have to keep it. I told him that I didn't think I could mail it anyway because the post office would not accept it, for one thing. He said another problem was that if we did mail it down there; we could not ride in to get it. Horses are not allowed in the park except on the Crest trial, which was about six or seven miles from the post office.
So, if we mailed it to the post office at Crater Lake, we would have to pack it out ourselves.
"You've got to be kidding me," I said. "That is why I wrote a letter down here to ask you people about this. I never got anything back saying that you couldn't come in to get food if it was left there." I think it is ironic that the forest service encourages horseback rides to carry and provide their own feed so the land is not overgrazed. Yet they will not allow rides to stash feed anywhere in route on forest l and. I asked him about the horse camp they had there. He said he knew nothing about a horse camp. He had worked there for seven years and knew nothing about it.
"Well it was on the brochure you people sent me," I said. He called some other people to find out if they knew anything. He was very nice, and he did try to help us get the information. I asked him if there was any other place we might find for a food drop. He told us there were some corrals over by Diamond Lake.
My Mom and I drove to Diamond Lake, found a little store and asked about the corrals. The person at the store told us that a Wayne Watson managed the corrals, and he thought he was over at the gas station. We found him and told him what we needed. He said we could keep our grain and food boxes at the corrals. Boy that helped. Going to the corrals would mean two more days of riding. It was originally going to be seven days to Crater Lake, and now it meant nine days to get to the Diamond Lake Corrals. It would be six miles down off the trail to the corrals. That was better than packing the food and grain out on your back for seven miles.
The next stop was to check the Cascade Summit at Odell Lake on Highway 58, but it was snowed in. These were the people who said they did not know what I meant by storing grain when I wrote to all the places about food drops. I drove down to the other end of the lake where a resort was still open. A person there gave me the phone number of the people who ran the other resort. I called them later when I returned home.
My next food drop was at Santiam Lodge on Highway 20. This was a Presbyterian Church Camp. The Reverend said "Yes," he would keep our food and our grain. As he did it for the backpackers, he would do it for us. I though that was very nice. We had a very enjoyable visit with him before going on to check the next food drop.
The next food drop was at Timberline Lodge on Highway 26. This was a ski lodge area and here we ran into problems. We met a person named Carol who had written a letter to me stating what it normally cost for the hikers to leave food boxes. She had a little gift shop and did not have room to keep seven sacks of feed, but she would keep the food boxes. She was very, very nice and called around for over one half hour to find a place for us to keep the grain. The forest service said they couldn't keep it on their property but she did find a building that we could put it in. Carol was very; very helpful and I sent her a thank you letter after my trip.
We finally drove down to the Cascade Locks on Highway 84, the last place in Oregon where we were going to have a food drop. I didn't have much luck finding a place there to leave the food and grain. A person at the information center said we might try at the town of Stevenson across on the Washington side. I asked about feed stores around the area. She said there was one over in Stevenson. I drove there and found the store.
Bryan Mean owns the Little Bit Ranch Supply, a feed store where he said we could leave the food boxes. We bought the grain from him for that food drop and got quotations on grain prices to take back to Roy and Pat. I thought by buying the grain there; it would save us from hauling feed that much further.
Then I talked with the people who had a store, a floor above Bryan place. About where we might stay for a night with the horses when we came through. They told us about a woman who was working in the store across the street whose husband took care of the Sherman Ranch. He said maybe if we asked them, we might be able to stay there. I talked with this woman and she told me where the Ranch was and suggested I talk with her husband. He said we could stay a night in a field alongside the drive going into the ranch. It was off the main highway going into Stevenson. By taking a side road, just a little way from the Bridge of the Gods we could get to the Ranch, and did not have to go in town. The only stipulation that he had was that we not build any fires while camping on his place. We agreed to that because we most likely would go into town to buy food at one of the restaurants, or we could use the cook stoves that we would be cooking on.
Well, that took care of all our food drops in Oregon. For the drops in Washington, my Mom or a driver who was going to pick up Roy at White Pass would bring my food to me. Other people who were going to ride parts of the trail with me would bring my food along when they joined me. I had Washington all taken care of in respect to my food drops. I didn't have to worry about sending it or taking it places like I did in Oregon. I came back and told Roy and Pat about the places for the drops and the place we could stay in Stevenson.
When I got home, I called the person at Odell Lake and told her about what we needed. She said we could probably put the grain in one of the boat sheds. They would keep the food boxes in their store. Roy and I picked up all of our grain for the trip and took it down a couple of days before we were to leave. The person at Odell Lake told us that there was no way we could get through from Crater Lake to Odell Lake at this time of year. There was just too much snow. We had one more food drop to make at Diamond Lake Corrals.
"Yes, you might run into some trouble with snow," Wayne Watson said. He said there was another area further down south by Devils Peak. He thought we might be able to skirt around that spot by going the Seven Lake Basin Trail.
| On the way back home from dropping off the food, Roy and I discussed the problem and decided to wait another week before leaving on our trip. When we got back home, we told Pat about the snow problem and wanting to hold off for a week. She agreed. That put us back to my previously planned schedule of leaving on July 1. I wanted to move it ahead a week because when I planned the trip, I only had about three layover days in the whole two months. I thought it would be better if I could have at least one layover day each week to give the horses a rest.
Getting our horses in shape for this 1,000-mile ride would require lots of hours in the saddle. There is a tree farm down below my place about a mile. We went down there and rode on weekends, putting in three or four hours a day riding for the next two months. The last month I started getting my horses accustomed to the weight they would carry by packing them. Gradually I added more weight until they got up to the approximate amount that they would be carrying on the trip. The horses needed riding every day, but since Pat and I were both working, they were only worked on weekends.
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