[pct-l] unusual horse experience

Bob bobandshell97 at verizon.net
Sat May 5 09:12:02 CDT 2012

So here I was recently, near the middle of my 2 week stroll north from the
border, when I paused for a break just beyond where the former Lucky 5 water
cache used to be.  I was actually right at the bottom of the short,
quasi-steep side trail which comes down from the highway at the Lucky 5
Ranch. Suddenly there was noise descending that side trail.  I jumped up and
here's a pleasant gentleman coming down that side trail on horseback.
followed by another. and another.  I asked which way they were headed on the
PCT and moved my pack and myself accordingly.  He expressed appreciation for
my minimizing any scare to the horses and informed me that there were 52
(fifty-two) horses coming.


How many of you have witnessed a 52 horse caravan on the PCT?  In my
previous 5 times over this particular section, I'd never seen a horse.
Farther north, I've been passed by groups of 4-5 or an occasional short pack
train. but 52 ???  Down that side trail they came, the horses already sweaty
from an earlier segment of their trail ride. As I stood there watching, and
counting, and talking to the horses, the PCT ahead to that shoulder just
north of the Lucky 5 side trail was completely filled with nose-to-tail
horses and riders, as far as one could see.  It was a truly amazing sight.
It turned out that on up ahead they just went to the Sunrise turnoff and
departed the PCT.


As I started on after them, I thought, OK, *HERE* was a great opportunity to
see the trail damage 52 horses can do to the PCT.  Conditions were dry at
the time and I was quite surprised that the treadway was churned up only
modestly and that on rockier sections I could not even tell that a horse had
just passed, much less 52 of them.  In my mind, I compared that to the
now-dried trail south of Mt Laguna (between Long Creek crossing and the
trees up top) where I had dealt with hundreds of 2-inch-deep dried boot
tracks from hikers who got caught in that big rain/snow event a week before.
Forgive me, but the many foot-long sliding prints of the person in those new
5-toed shoes - five sliding/skidding toes now etched in the dry mud - were
funny looking.  Not to him/her at the time, of course.  Ok, wet then for the
hikers and dry now for the horses.  If the horses had been there under wet
conditions. different story.  


Ah, and for us horse poop complainers, only 4-5 deposits from 52 horses in
the few miles ahead.  They must have lightened their load, so to speak,
earlier in their ride. 


I will long remember that probably once-in-a-hiking-lifetime, slow-motion,
"civilian cavalry" attack on the PCT.  


Dr. Bob

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