I don’t even remember the last time we got lost. I think it was in California. We took a wrong turn once in the Rockies but went less than a half mile out of our way and turned around to take the correct turn. Does that count? In Cali, we were supposed to meet another rider who was going to escort us over some private property. He had to come find us because we didn’t know what trail we were on. Thank goodness we had cell reception there.
Not here! No reception. No idea where we were. We knew the vicinity- but that doesn’t help when you need to choose which way to go. And you know that GPS SPOT unit tracker I wear on my belt? That’s for YOU! It doesn’t tell US where we are! It’s just an orange weight with a flashing green light to us! And no, we don’t carry a GPS. We tried that. They eat through more batteries than we are willing to carry. Too much weight. A map is good enough.
Well, it has been anyhow.
So we’d been having a jolly day riding down more remote and unmarked roads…. that ARE on our map! (Envision the Smurf song in your head)… la la la la la la la la la la la! And slowly, ever so slowly, a feeling that something was amiss was creeping into our very being.
Out came the compass. Northeast. Great- half the roads in this area go that way- including the one we were looking for. Keep riding.
We came across a little one room white school house with a plaque that explained its historical significance to the local residents. (What local residents?) We hadn’t even seen any abandoned homes in many, many miles. Sadly, that school house was not marked on the map like so many other off-the-beaten-path things are. No clue there- except a phone number for more information- which did us a lot of good with no cell reception!
Keep riding. Road turns west… whoa whoa whoa…. this is all wrong. Turn around!
We took the next road east.
It dead ended at a river. A river!? Where’d that come from?! ….looking at map….. well…. that narrows it down to a few roads- but still not sure.
Then- there was human life! Two people, a father and son, in a canoe fishing on the river- RIGHT AT THE PERFECT MOMEMT WHERE WE NEEDED HELP! Hallelujah! Another “God moment!” How DOES he plan all these details just so?!?
“Hi there! Can you help us figure out where we are?”
“Ha ha ha.”
“No really! We’re lost!”
“We’re not from around here.”
“Neither are we… we’re riding our horses across America.”
“What.. are you serious?!”
“Yeah. Hey- what’s that old stone structure over there?”
“Oh that? That’s Welch Spring. It used to be a place where asthma patients came to breath the damp air in the cave. That creek there that flows into the river is the spring- it doubles the river in size!”
“WHAT?! Welch spring?! Oh boy- we’re a few miles off course! We need to get to Akers Ferry.”
“Well- if you cross the river- there’s a road right up there that will take you right to it.”
….. scanning the river intently….. it’s deep and flowing fast from spring…. not liking the prospect of washing the horses away…..
“Ummmm, it’s too deep!”
“Well, take that road back south and try to find a low spot in the river down that way.”
Great…. miles out of our way! We profusely thanked the fishers for steering us in the right direction and they canoed over and took a business card before we parted.
We did take a short ride up the river on a sandy trail to see if there was any hope of crossing it- not anywhere close. It was all cliffy and too deep. So we went back the way we had come, watching the clock closely to estimate miles. We came across another road/trail/four wheeler track type thing that went east about the right time frame so we took it. It turned out to be our missed ‘road’ that was on the map. You couldn’t take a car on this thing if your life depended on it!
It dead ended at the river too! But the map showed it continuing along the river a ways before turning to cross the ferry! Not anymore apparently.
The river showed potential for safe crossing so we decided to test it. We sent out the scout (me and Apache again) to test the waters. It was deep but safe so I turned back to put the harness on Bella so she wouldn’t get washed downstream as she swam across, then forged back with Richard and the pack horses. Bella was a little nervous, but was a very brave dog and swam across- but she was quite a weight in the water! She was already soaking wet so we didn’t want her in our lap in the saddle… if there’ s a next time, she’ll just go on the saddle wet or not. The horses, having done this a time or two in their lives, were fine- but the water was high enough that it just barely got the bottom of the packs wet!
We popped out of this ‘road’ at Akers Ferry and had a good chat with the Forest rangers there. It turns out- the ferry was out of commission right now anyhow- we’d have been forging the river one way or another!
We left the rangers with directions for a ‘short cut’ in our heads…. more on that tomorrow… and headed for Devil’s Well. We were concerned about the lack of forage in the forest for our horses, but we found a somewhat grassy-but private- area on the road to Devil’s Well. We were thankful when the family offered to let us camp on it for the night. It was full of prickers- something we have not had to live with since moving out west (I don’t miss them!)- but nonetheless, it was enough grass to feed the horses and a nice safe place to camp.