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Locked Gates and Cattle Guards

Coming from the Rocky Mountain states where fire roads are all public access and you use the cowboy rule for gates- leave it the way you find it- we have had quite an education about how different California is! Fire roads on the map are just a tease- they are criss-crossed with fences, private property, locked gates, and cattle guards with no way around. Law suites and dense population have caused property owners to lock out all access. Thus, our progress has been slow- it seems we have had more stopping than going! We were even stuck inside a ranch we had acquired permission to pass through for almost 4 hours because we could not figure out how to get around their cattle guards until the owners showed up and helped us! However, God has granted us much favor and provision from the kind and generous locals who take an interest in our venture. Thank you to the Dunlaps for generously opening their home and pastures to us and our horses while they steadfastly worked on finding us the right contacts to get over the next mountain (covered in private property, locked gates, fences, and currently unopened public land!) We were ready to just ride the roads around this obstacle, but were advised to wait because these roads are narrow, windy, busy, and have no shoulder- not a good combination for horse travel. We also may be able to help them. It turns out that horse owners in the area have been trying for years to get various people groups to cooperate so that a continuous horse trail over the mountain can be made available. Local property owners and city directors in charge of the closed county property have been working together and are meeting with us this afternoon to “make it happen” for us! Since they have taken an interest in our success, we may be the ‘guinea pigs’ who get the ball rolling for the local horse owners! In hopes of helping the locals by paving the way, it has been worth a couple extra stationary days. It is also teaching us patience, as we have two or three more of these little mountains to cross before we finally catch up with the American Discovery Trail. Our progress has been slower than anticipated largely due to the accident and these logistical obstacles, however, after driving over the Sierra’s and seeing how many FEET of snow are up there- we do not need to hurry!

Another quick update on the injuries- Tiska is nearly completely recovered. She was given a free chiropractic adjustment and a massage, and Richard was also given two free chiropractic adjustments to help him recover from the accident. (Thank you to these skilled folks and their generosity.) Both are almost completely recovered and ready to keep moving! Apache had a small injury as well on our last riding day, but his leg is almost all better as well. It turns out this long rest was quite timely as well and it never ceases to amaze us how God provides for our EVERY need!

Thank you to everyone who has been keeping tabs on us and making sure we are ok. I will do my best in the future to send and “OK” message with the SPOT unit whether or not we are camping or resting so that we do not cause further worry in our dear friends- both old and new! Thank you for all the prayers- the favor and safety from them has definitely been felt. Lots of love from all 6 of us and I will share another update as soon as I have internet access again!  :)


  1. Hi
    I don’t know if you guys remember me, but my name is Shana, I was a student at FRC the same time you both were. I was also part of the pack station at the same time as well. I was truly touched reading your stories, and I love that you have taken on such a beatuiful cause and great adventure. I would help financially if I could because I truly believe in your mission. My life has also been filled with many hardships, but I am now on a better path I have been blessed with a beautiful daughter and this past year i was able to buy a horse again. Shortly after I left FRC my father drank himself to death, and my mother almost joined him. I didn’t know how to handle my grief and I turned to drugs….I ended up losing everything, I even lost Pride ( a horse I bred and raised) to my addiction. I ended up homeless on the streets of Reno asking people for change to get by and support my drug habbit. It was a dark time in my life. Then my mom almost died, while I was living in the streets. I didn’t know what to do, so I prayed, I asked god to give me a chance to make things right with my mom, I prayed that I would see her again and that she could even live to see her grandchildren. My mom gradually recovered, and I was inspired. My prayers had worked, but god made things better than I could have ever dreamed. I left reno to come visit my mom here in Mexico and to try to quit using heroin. My reunion with my mom was amazing, it wasn’t easy but I was able to quit using drugs, I got pregnant, and my mother was there to see her grand daughter born. I was able to be friends with my mom for the first time, and for the first time me and my mother were both sober. My mom passed away last year, but it was Ok. Because thru god we were able to heal our relationship, which was a big part of my recovery. Today I live in Rosarito Beach, Baja, Mexico. I have a nice little house on the beach, a beautiful little Girl, a wonderful man in my life, and god has helped me heal. I was even able to buy a nice little mare last year and our whole family enjoys the benifits of having a horse again. I think what you are doing is amazing and wonderful, I know my life has been full of ups and downs…but god, healing and horses are always part of the ups. I f your ever in the San Diego or Baja area let me know…anything I can do to help. Congradulations on the beautiful life you have built together.

    Shana McCarthy

  2. Following up on previous email.

    Since you are using facebook, this is a link to our facebook page. It also has a link to our photo album which you might find of interest.


    Sorry your trail access is so difficult. John has been working on trails for years for the Bay Ridge Trail and with the East Bay Trails Council as well as the American Discovery Trail and it is truly frustrating.

    Mary Lou Fazel

    Mary Lou Fazel

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