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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
Saturday, August 17
Saturday, August 17th
Yesterday I got to ride a horse almost 20 miles on the CDT (Continental Divide Trail). It was my turn to play with the trekkers and I was thrilled to pieces that it was going to be on horseback. Ravi had ridden with them the day before and I got to ride the horse chosen for him, which was lucky for me, since he was the most patient, docile, obedient horse of the bunch. Ravi was a novice, so they gave him the easiest horse, named Mister. Rather than dull and plodding, though, Mister was a sweet animal. Unfortunately, these horses were not used to riding 20 miles a day; they were a little chubby, a little slow, and definitely exhausted. But- it was still a gorgeous ride.

The trekkers had ridden straight into camp last night, as we were waiting for them right on the CDT. Sadly, they had had yet another difficult day, and didn’t roll in until around 10 PM, again returning (and riding) in full dark. But that meant the horses were with us in the morning, so we were off no later than 8:30. We followed the trail down an established dirt road for a ways, and then started climbing into the mountains on a part of the trail that allowed only non-mechanized, non-motorized recreators. Human feet or horse feet only. We crested a ridge and suddenly were smacked with winds like I have never experienced. It honestly felt like horse and rider as a unit were going to be blown off the mountain. The view, when I could actually turn my head, was staggering- hills and mountains, stretching beyond each other as far as I could see, and beautiful mid-morning light playing off the meadow before us. It took some time before we reached the cover of trees and it was a great relief when we finally did. The wind had been so strong I had to cover my nose just to breathe, to allow air in.

The next few hours we alternated climbing up steep hills, crossing over crests, and picking our ways down each valley. Just when we were thinking about stopping for lunch, in a particularly woody, hilly spot, our horses made the decision for us. They were panting, sweating, and temporarily, spent. We only stopped for twenty minutes; the trekkers were fearful of another midnight return. I think the day might have been quite different for me than it was for them. This was their tenth day in a row on the back of a horse, their tenth without an hour to themselves. I could only imagine how their knees and their butts and their minds were feeling, compared to mine. But they were still talking and laughing, and a couple of them shared some experiences from their last week. I, however, had been looking forward to this day above all others, had been desperate to get out in the woods, happy to not be a support person, if just for a day.

After lunch, we had less than ten miles to go. This turned out to be a good thing, since our horses were steadily slowing down, and sometimes refusing to go on. We each ended up walking at lease a mile or two, leading our horses down the difficult, rocky trail. For some reason, they only had shoes on their front feet, and they were in obvious pain on the rocks. Rob’s horse was the most stubborn; every now and then he just quit walking and simply would not start again for a few minutes. But Mister was a doll. It may have been the apple I gave him from my lunch, but he walked next to me and obeyed every one of my requests. Finally, we reached the bottom of the range and found ourselves on an open trail, big enough for a car (and with ATV tracks all over it, the ugly marks of illegal trail use). The path led up a grassy hill, past a grove of trees, and opened out into a huge pasture. Down the next hill a ways was a watering trough with several cows hanging around. We galloped down to the trough, where our guide was waiting, and watered the horses. We were in the middle of trying to figure out how much further we were supposed to go when up on the hill beyond us, I saw one of our vehicles, then another, and then the whole train, trailers and all. We had beat them to the camp site! A first, and a beautiful thing compared to the last two nights of the trekkers finding their way home in the dark. This last part of the ride, across the meadow, was the best part. My horse had gotten a second wind and we galloped all over the field as we followed the vehicles back to the grove of trees we had passed on the hill before.

We set up camp, said goodbye to the horses, and actually dined together, warm in the evening sun. Last night was another terrific night around the fire, everyone telling jokes and stories and moving ever closer to the warmth of the flames. It was terribly cold, yet again. And today, I am sore from the middle of my back to my ankles. But it was certainly worth it.

Every year since I was about 4 years old, even when living in huge cities, the first thing on my Christmas list has always been a pony. In the last few years, “pony” has changed to “horse”, but the wish still remains. Someday I will make it come true.
for Saturday, August 17
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
No rest for the wicked-- Michelle Williams spends a day at the office, typing up journal entries for the trekkers

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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 19
Michelle Williams
Back on the Green River
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Tuesday, September 17
Michelle Williams
Two Days In A Canoe
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Monday, September 16
Michelle Williams
Jammie Pants and a Wood Cabin
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Saturday, September 14
Michelle Williams
Wild Horses!
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Friday, September 13
Michelle Williams
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Tuesday, September 10
Michelle Williams
Reflections, September 10, 2002
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Sunday, September 8
Michelle Williams
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Saturday, September 7
Michelle Williams
Saturday Night Near Jackson Hole
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Thursday, September 5
Michelle Williams
Yellowstone
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Wednesday, September 4
Michelle Williams
Is it Wednesday?
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Sunday, September 1
Michelle Williams
Fall In Idaho
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Saturday, August 31
Michelle Williams
Saturday Morning, Day 32
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Thursday, August 29
Michelle Williams
Hump Day
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Wednesday, August 28
Michelle Williams
A Ghost Town, A Dug-out Canoe, A Birthday and A Compound Fracture
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Monday, August 26
Michelle Williams
Oh, Happy Day
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Sunday, August 25
Michelle Williams
Sunday, August 25th
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Saturday, August 24
Michelle Williams
A Better Day Already
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Friday, August 23
Michelle Williams
A Challenging Day
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Wednesday, August 21
Michelle Williams
Wednesday, August 21
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Tuesday, August 20
Michelle Williams
Tuesday, August 20
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Monday, August 19
Michelle Williams
Monday, August 19
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Sunday, August 18
Michelle Williams
Easy Like...
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
More on Saturday, August 17th
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
Saturday, August 17th
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Thursday, August 15
Michelle Williams
Thursday, August 15th
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Wednesday, August 14
Michelle Williams
My Top Ten List
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Tuesday, August 13
Michelle Williams
Freezing and Fires
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Monday, August 12
Michelle Williams
Explore the River
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Saturday, August 10
Michelle Williams
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Friday, August 9
Michelle Williams
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Thursday, August 8
Michelle Williams
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