………. Then March 10th happened………
Let me preface this by saying that everyone is ok…..
We woke up in the cow pasture to our first beautiful sunny day. It was glorious after so much rain. We actually got out of camp at 9:45, had a nice chat with the workers on the Lucas ranch, and headed up the Big Rock mountain- which thank God we had decided not to attempt late in the day yesterday. It was a most amazing view on the way up- we could see all the way to San Francisco, as well as down on the Lucas Facility where famous movies such as ET and Star Wars are edited. It is amazing how much open space and green hillsides and mountains are so close to such a big city.
We were about 20 feet from the crest of the mountain when we passed an old fence at the narrowest point of the trail- steep up and drop off below- when Tiska’s pack got caught on the fence. She got scared, jumped into Satchmo- who tried his best to maintain footing- and knocked herself, Satchmo, and Richard off the cliff. Richard jumped off his horse as they were going over, but his foot got hung up in Tiska’s rope. The last thing I saw was Richard hanging upside down and all 3 falling off the cliff. The next thing I saw was Tiska rolling sideways at high speed over and over and over down the mountain. I was sure she was dead, not to mention Richard. By the time I jumped off my horse and tied him and Fiddle to the old fence, I could see Satchmo skiing down the mountain- somehow, he had managed to stay on his feet. Still no Richard. I lowered myself over the edge and slid down to Richard, who MIRACULOUSLY, was doing ok. He was quite shaken, had a bloody nose, lip, and cheek; was a bit bruised, banged up, and shaken- but otherwise doing ok. I stayed with him for a bit until I was sure he really was ok, then went after the horses. In the meantime, we saw Tiska come out from the bushes below (no more pack) and ran soundly across the mountain heading towards the last spot we saw Satchmo! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I slipped and slid over to the next ridge and found the horses standing together on the other side. Not a scratch on either one! Satchmo is totally ok. The only injury we see on Tiska is a very slightly sore shoulder. She is still doing great today- so I expect no internal injuries either! God absolutely sent a myriad of angels to protect all 3 of them on this horribly life threatening fall. It is an absolute MIRACLE that they are all ok! The accident was even seen by someone below who called 911 and a rescue team showed up on the mountain to make sure we were all ok. We ultimately decided to keep going and get down the mountain on the other side. God blessed us with more help on that side of the mountain too.
We were on the fire road on top and couldn’t figure out how to get down. Thankfully we had cell reception and called Matt, who was able to look at our google maps page, see where we were, and direct us on the right fire roads most of the way down the mountain! I find it quite amusing that, because of our SPOT unit, we can call someone and ask THEM to tell US where we are! But the stress of the day was beginning to wear on us. We were on the ridge line above the city below, beyond help of maps, out of reception, not sure how to get down or how long it would take, freezing from the relentless wind, Richard and Tiska were sore, the horses were cranky from hunger, we were on property that we could not camp on, and we were utterly spent and needed desperately to find somewhere to stop and loosing hope- when we heard a dog bark and we hurried to meet two ladies on the ridge jogging. They knew about a horse stable just below us, how to get there, how long it would take, and offered to meet us there with pizza and beer! They were angels to us that night! Another blessing- that stable ‘just happened’ to be one I had contacted through a contact- and they had offered two weeks ago to house us “if we made it.” I gave Monte at Willow Tree Stables in Novato a call and asked her if her offer still stood. And how it did! We arrived in the dark with an escort for the last mile and about 10 people at the barn to greet us and help us untack the horses. We were greeted with a hug by Monte who had gathered from my voice on the phone that we needed one! The horses were put in their arena, fed, and watered for us- the pizza really did arrive (thank you sooooo much!) and we were ushered into the house for a second supper, advil, a shower, a hot tub soak, and a warm bed! What a blessed relief after a day like that! We are SO thankful to the Kruger family, Matt, the joggers, the rangers, the folks who called 911, and all the others who so graciously helped us on this day, and we thank God for providing safety and rest.
We are currently at Willow Tree Stables- assessing gear damage and loss- (we haven’t found anything significant), and “Mom” – Monte- says we have to stay another day to wait out the rain forecasted for tomorrow and to recuperate some more. Twist my arm!