Photo by Kristen Smith Nice
Made it into Winthrop, Washington yesterday. Just letting folks know I am doing a talk Sunday evening, May 29th at the Winthrop Ice Arena at 7pm. Come if you can. BRING YOUR OWN CHAIR
Journal, May 17th, 2016…I feast on Salmon berries and the scent of wild roses as we make our way westward to Padilla Bay, coastal waters, seagulls, saltwater and ships. How thrilling!! The horses are fat thanks to Washington’s luscious cornucopia of grasses. The horses literally graze as we travel. Following the Cascade Trail (another marvelous Rails to Trails creation) from Concrete into Sedro Woolley keeps us off a VERY dangerous Hwy #20 packed with log trucks, semi’s and tourist traffic. The Skagit River to our left is as anxious to reach ocean waters as we are, but travels much faster than we do.
May 21st, 2016 We – Essie, Spirit and I, are the guests of Cheryl Cunningham and Marty Purvis of Marblemount,Washington. They like so many in this part of Washington have a beautiful, richly decorated home of flowers, gardens and a wide variety of tree specimens. EVERYTHING grows like mad here. It truly feels like the “Garden of Eden” there is just SO MUCH foliage! I met Marty when I stopped for the night at Colonial Campground in the Ross Lake State Park. Not sure if horses were allowed I walked over to a handful of Park Rangers and workers (the grounds were not open they were working hard to prepare the area for an onslaught of vacationers) to ask if I could spend the night. WELL, as I have said Washington is the most horse friendly state I have ridden thru and the response was… “Well of course.” Washington also has many very friendly park and forest service workers willing to help this lady long rider, enthusiasm oozed from them when I revealed my story. A young gal named Kassandra, took charge and then Marty joined in and with in 20 min. or so they had me and my horses all laid out with places to camp through out the following week. One of which was Kasandra’s folks the Barnedt’s and Marty’s place. You must remember that when I left Winthrop I had NO IDEA how I would manage the ride over to Padilla Bay. Now it all fell into place. My heart filled with relief, believe me!
We reached our most westward point, Padilla Bay, Bay View State Park on May 18th at 11 am (same day Mt. Helens erupted–Wednesday marked the 36th anniversary). The Skagit Valley Herald arrived to document the occasion. I arrived at the Sedro Woolley Rodeo Grounds the day before greeted my Doug Wood President of the rodeo association. They hosted my stay for 3 nights. Very nice facility, hot showers, many visitors and Doug made sure I had everything, food and supplies before leaving. The next day I was up early, saddled Spirit, Essie ran naked next to me on lead. We raced the 16.2 miles over to the coastal waters in 3 hours. We took photos of the Long Riders Guild Flag, had lunch visited with the camp hosts and dashed back before traffic roared with folks eager to get home from work. I marvel at my horses, their steadfastness and ability to maintain composure in the face of such chaos. THEY are the champions of this story!! We spent 2 more nights in Sedro Woolley, rain set in and because of that I asked Doug if he would haul me to Marblemount there by keeping us off the most dangerous stretch of all from Concrete to Rockport where logging was most active. I am back at Cheryl’s and Marty’s camped under a magical grove of Cedar trees, more rain. I must re-shoe the horses, rest and update the website before making the arduous journey up and over the Cascade Highway to Winthrop. Memorial Day weekend will light highway #20 up like fire by next weekend. I must ride out in the morning, even if I would dearly love to stay. It is like this, not often, but there are stops, at private homes, when we all say…”I feel like I have known you all my life” and the stop is like going home to old friends. That’s what its been like with Marty and Cheryl.
OK HERE ARE THE PHOTOS
Christie Fairchild stopping to visit also donated a bale of hay when I got to Sedro Woolley. Thank You!
Ok that is enough, still must re shoe the horses and…squeeze in some rest… Thank you so much, all of you that have helped facilitate this stretch of the ride, THANK YOU, as my card says, “I could not have done it with out your help.”
We (Essie, Spirit and I) are guests at the Chewuch Inn – Cabins and Lodging – www.chewuchinn.com – (Owners Dan and Sally Kuperberg did offer a room but I’m adamant about staying with the horses) I camped out back where they have a corral and shed, PERFECT! It’s just the prettiest place, a B&B, nicely located in town, quiet. If you come to Winthrop, stay here! smiles! We rode in late afternoon Sunday, May 9th, a day late and a dollar short for Winthrop’s “49er’s Days.” Aaron Lee and Judy Burkhart found me at the Red Barn auditorium wondering what to do. They’d heard about me from someone, not sure who but was very glad to see a truck pull up and a couple of smiles offering hope to a tired lady long rider. Aaron lee and Judy own Early Winters Ranch where I’ll be staying tomorrow night as I make my way across the North Cascade highway. The Burkharts and the Kuperbergs are good friends…thus my stay here. Winthrop is a big stop for me. I’ve had lots to do all day, boxes in from sponsors, boxes needing to go, website updating, more food and REST. Yeah right!!!
Winthrop is a unique town. I have never ridden through another town quite like it. A completely westernized theme town, but nicely done, drawing people from all over the world. There is so much to do here. They call it the “Swiss Alps” of Washington or something like that, its stunning. Hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, 4-wheeling, boating, fishing, swimming, have I missed anything, probably. I’ll write more about Winthrop on my return ride. I must say it is truly with-out doubt a “horse friendly” place. But I think Washington is by far the most horse friendly state I have ever ridden through.(this is my 3rd and 4th time crossing Washington) I think its the Garden of Eden state because its so green and luscious and water is everywhere and so easy to ride across. I am able to pick wild foods just about anywhere and the horses are, well lets say voluptuous, thanks to Washington’s generosity. But let me go back and tell you of my journey thus far…..
April 26th The first day out Gary Bellinger forwarded my panniers on-to Arden, via his pick up, letting us travel fast and light. Essie ran naked in the sun, grabbing mouthfuls of tall, green brome grass as we trotted along. It’s a nice way to start the horses out, give them a chance to travel with-out the heavy load. Lilac smell filled the air from enormous trees, purple, blue’s and white lilac’s, so pretty. I camped at the Rodeo Grounds in Arden and then had the unexpected treat of watching a drill team rehearse. Nearly twenty riders doing some complicated figurations, very impressive. Cindy Baskin is founder of the drill team. “Encouraging women to get out and do things,” was her reason for bringing it all together. They preform at local events its quite an undertaking. I say “Bravo” to Cindy and her husband Dave who helps enormously.
April 27th Gary did yet another haul with my panniers over to the Sherwood Creek Wildlife Area. Where Jerry “Chris” Christensen was expecting us. There I camped in a barn that had been moved from another part of the 8,700 acre wildlife area. After coming back from Texas in 2009 I realized the importance of our public lands. Texas has 2% of its state in public land. 2%!!!! It was like riding down a hallway and all the doors were locked, there was just no place to get off, go off to. Not like we have it up here in the Pacific Northwest. Public Land is SO IMPORTANT!! Mr. Christensen has been instrumental in making the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area a success. It is situated along the west side of Lake Roosevelt which begins at Kettle Falls. He is very proud of his work there. It supports a wide diversity of wildlife including both white-tail and mule deer, wild turkeys, both bald and golden eagles, osprey, bats and many varieties of songbirds. I could not say enough good things about the facility, check it out.
Jana Pekaar, who has come out to visit on every ride also arrived to haul my panniers over Sherman Pass. Her accordion playing has improved immensely! even Essie agreed.
Sherman Pass had snow, was no fun, camped on pavement in a parking lot, froze that night. Morning sun came late but was greatly welcomed. April 31st.
May 1st and 2nd. Spent two nights in Republic, another western type town, very friendly. The Ferry Fair Grounds were well kept by the grounds man Wayne, gracious and welcoming made me feel at home.
May 3rd I spent the night at a old school house in Waconda. Visitors Sarah Wilson whom I met earlier in the day and her friend Laurel brought food out. I am feeling tired by this time.
The next day just before “hanging rock” a dangerous sharp curve on Hwy 20 I came across a state work crew repairing the road. Well they were all very concerned about my safety and when the foreman arrived he took matters in to his own hands and did this…..
Gosh I hope he did not get into trouble for helping me like that, it was SOOO kind of him to do this. It actually said…”slow down, lady long, ahead.” Made my day, I rode safely on with a big smile on my face. THEN a few days later another gentleman from the same work crew JUST happen to be driving home from work as I neared Conconully when my packs slipped. Under Spirit’s belly they went. Now my girls are good and know to stop and just wait until the mess is fixed. But we were on a busy road and not much shoulder and here he comes just in the nick of time. MOST times I am scrambling as fast as I can to un-cinch the packs and undue everything from the horse and get it all dropped to the ground so I can reassemble but with help we could push it back in place, quick and easy. Gosh I soooo appreciate this kind of help. Chevalier is alive and well!!
May 4th as I neared Talkier Lake Rd (which I had intended on riding that evening) a storm whipped out of nowhere with wind and rain. I raced into an unexpected couples home who were quietly minding their own business. John and Janine House never knew what hit them, but they were good sports and let me sleep in their shop while the horses were out of the wind and safe. Thank you!
The ride down to Riverside, Wa. and across to Conconully could not have been more spectacular. As I said every where ever I ride it is luscious and water is gushing from snow melt. But the Talkier Lake Rd had devastation (mild compared to what I would see later) from forest fires that ravished Washington last year. I felt the effects as far way as Canada on my ride home last year. But I have never seen anything like I did on my ride from Conconully to Winthrop. From Conconully which was postcard beauty into this, wow. I had asked permission to ride #42 a forest service road which had been closed because of the burn. After riding it and seeing what I saw I was surprised the National Forest Service let me through.
AND THEN CAME THIS
The photos simply can not speak of the damage done from these horrendous fires. Sad day, left me exhausted and very sober that evening. Mother Nature can be harsh to say the least.
And now here we are in Winthrop having ridden through rain and wind, beauty and devastation. Having met a host of good people and a wide variety of campsites I called home, we are in Winthrop, Washington at the Chewuch Inn, thank you Sally and Dan. Thank you ALL of you. I have so needed help on this stretch in particular, its been greatly appreciated.
Essie Pearl- my beautiful girl at Meyers Falls, afternoon break
I think Chewelah is even prettier now than it is in the fall. Colorful blossoms, both tree and flowers, decorate the streets, lawns are SO green and mowed. Streets have a fresh clean look, (they did just have a full blown “clean-up day, every one was out.) I declared Chewelah a “Blue Ribbon Community” last year the story is in the archives.
Fran Genne has been kind enough to let me and my girls camp at her barn just blocks from the edge of town. Convenient enough for me to walk to stores, post office and of-course the library. I arrived April 17th after a full day of hauling. First a short skip with Ruth Ann Mclaury from Eureka, then a longer ride with Judith Hemphill from, Libby and finally a long ride with Gary Bellinger of Chelwelah. As most of you know I had ridden as far as Chewelah last fall…..from New York I might add. So I had no desire to re-ride the same stretch as I have ridden it several times in the past. I then rode home in late October and arrived in the Trego area mid November where I wintered over.
So here we are back out ready to finish this Odyssey, it does seem like it, two years, goodness, 8000 miles~ I leave in the morning riding Hwy 20 across the mountains to Samish Bay, Washington, south of Bellingham. Besides resting and preparing for the finally leg of this ride the following photos will tell you what I have been up to this past week.
Standing behind Stan is Gary Bellinger who has been with-out doubt the most helpful person I could have asked for at this point of my ride. He’s helped facilitate not only my haul over from Sandpoint, Idaho but has gotten me to my talks on time, set up a small corral for the horses, taken me out on a scouting trip – scoping the route and has offered oodles of encouragement when I have most needed it. Thank you Gary! This is not a long stretch – 750 miles – from here to the west coast, but the road (hwy 20, will be challenging.) I rarely have help like this. I rarely let it be so. But this time it feels right to have so many people assisting with this final 8000 mile journey I embarked upon 2 years ago. Chewelah has assured me of a party upon my return in June. I am taking the same route over and back and will not be going up thru Canada as I had originally planned. The Long Riders Guild Flag will have ridden with me coast to coast when I arrive at Samish Bay. I’ll take photos of course as I did on the east coast.
SO tomorrow we ride. I know Essie and Spirit are bored and ready to go. Northeast Washington is spectacular county with breathtaking vista’s in every direction. It is the grass that so captivates me. It’s just so luscious, so green and thick I want to eat it like my horses, roll in it, run my hands thru it. The horses will eat well on this stretch.
I am asked by many curious and interested people I meet…”where do you get those riding pants?” My reply, I make them! But I thought this story would be interesting to many of you as to how they are made or at least one way they get made. I finally met Dee Odea in July of 2014 at the Mt Pleasant, Michigan Race Track after many years of correspondence. What follows is her story of how SHE met me. Dee gave me deer hide leather for a much needed new pair of riding pants that I sewed by hand.
This is from Dee Odea……
I read about you in my Black Canyon City, AZ newspaper the first time you rode Honor thru AZ (2007) and stayed in Crown King. I taught fourth grade and since geography was my favorite of the eight subjects I taught, a U.S. map went up on my bulletin board tracking where you came from and thus began a four year relationship with you. My class and I would anxiously await emails and pictures. We cheered for you and cried when you lost Honor. It was heartwarming reading your posts about how the people in Texas took care of you and then gave you Hart. We followed your heartbreak at loosing the puppy you picked up in New Mexico and called the Veterinary Clinic to see what money we could raise to help. Well they told my class that the bill was paid and asked if we wanted to talk to you since you were there. I had you on speaker, and you thanked my class repeatedly for concern. Then we found out that the puppy died, so we sent cards for you to a lady in Texas. But she brought you a big yellow envelope from my class while you were in Kansas. You responded with a beautiful thank you letter and postcards for my students. A few of my students still follow you. I also had a reporter the next year do an article about how my classes were still following your third or fourth long ride. You had just gotten Essie Pearl and was still with Hart I believe. I retired in 2012. I moved to Michigan to take care of my mother and had the mule skin hides from my former husband. They were just sitting in old bags waiting for the right person who was supposed to have them! I was thrilled to meet you for you are such a beautiful strong woman whom I have a lot of admiration for. My heroes are:#1. My mother . #2. Mother Teresa. #3. Bernice Ende. Lots more stories about my past parallel yours in a small way. I am a very strong, Midwest gal, who got her degree and had a dream of teaching in a little mountain school. I found it in Black Canyon City, Arizona. In 1986. Moved back home to Michigan 2013. Met you in July 2014, while my mother was still alive. I was able to share that joy with her.
The excitement of the ride has my blood racing this time of year. Yet as I told Nancy Haugan the other day when she was out to vet the horses, “It never fails each and every time I step back out it’s as if those 1000’s of miles behind me never existed. It’s as if I had never done any of it and I question, “can I do this again?” Three weeks into the journey I will be taken over with the exhilaration, the call of the horizon, the love of the ride.
The Canadian Geese are calling, and I reply to them…”I am coming, I am coming.