Well- it’s been somewhat miserable as expected. We’ve had a lot of rain, hail, tons of mud, muscle aches, wet feet, cold, cold toes, cold fingers, cold nights of little sleep, and general grumpiness from getting used to living outside! The horses are confused and wondering when they will go home- and they get grumpy too when they are not used to eating only when there is food available- and not free choice all day long. So far, our equipment is working well, the saddles are fitting fine, and they have no saddle sores.
Our efficiency is slowly increasing. We woke up, achily and slowly rolled out of our sleeping bags, packed up, saddled, and finally rolled out of camp on March 5th at noon! We have increased our efficiency by about 15 minutes each day. So far our fastest time is leaving camp at about 9:45 with horses grazed and all easy boots put on. We know it will get faster as we get stonger, more energetic, and more efficient. We have a system down of rehydrating our food for dinner throughout the day in a large mouth nalgene. It’s been working well and meals haven’t been too bad.
We were a bit nervous about leaving Point Reyes Station that we had become familiar with, and journey out into the unknown, but overall, the trails that Sandy showed us on the maps have worked out quite well. Our general route has been from Point Reyes to Samuel P Taylor State Park- where we camped at Devil’s Gulch horse camp. We met a nice ranger who drove us to the showers and back, but then our food got attacked by a raccoon or something in the night. That bugger literally crawled under our tent vestibule, took our prepacked lunches out of our saddle bags, ate them both, and then pulled our extra food out of the hole he chewed in our dry bag. We slept through the whole thing! Lesson learned…..! Then we rode the rest of the way though the park under beautiful redwoods and tons of ferns- a fairy land- and out into Giacomini Open Space Preserve. We met a nice hiker and biker there, who helped direct us on the right trails, as well as took pictures. We also met a hiker up top late in the afternoon who gave us a tip about where we could find water and a place to hole up for the night. We rested the next day- sort of- as the weather was cold, hailing, and generally miserable so we had to keep going for hikes to stay warm. We moved on the next day through White’s Hill Open Space Preserve and over Loma Alta Open Space Preserve. The wind on top of Loma Alta was unreal! It was even worse than when we climbed the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming. Jeannette nearly got blown off Apache, we couldn’t hear each other even at a shout, and the wind was so strong it was even blowing the horses sideways! My face still hurts from the windburn 2 days later! We hurried to get off that mountain and found a nook out of the wind to camp (in a famous person’s cow pasture) for the night. The days were relatively uneventful in a good way- just the expected issues with getting used to living outdoors, using new gear, and generally not know where we are going!
Then – March 10th happened………