Friday, August 9, 2013

STOP! I NEED TIME to repair my hooves

August 5th
Nathalie has come and gone. To greet her we did amazing miles in very difficult terrain … but how beautiful! Pascal was thinking of Adrien looking at those granite facades with over 1000 ft drops in grandiose canyons. What terrain to go climbing in! And those rivers flowing over the granite like natural slides for hundreds of feet …
Cabin at Echo lake accessible only by boat

Once again my feet are giving up, getting infected, and the horn not growing properly. Pascal & I struggled over this, him getting really tired of my continuous problems (he even called me “dog meat” one day!) and me suffering through it to try to be up to the trip … but the body does not follow. I have scars all over, scratched legs but most of all it is the feet. Even with a pain killer and antibiotics I can't seem to get over the problems. Especially my front right leg. Pascal has finally decided that once Nathalie is gone we will do very small miles until I grow out of this … but Adrien has announced his arrival … so we should be doing 10 miles a day … which is little compared to what we've done but too much for me right now.
Landings at North end Echo Lake

Pascal was happy to have company, Nathalie came like father Xmas with gifts of many kinds including a sun-shower, memorable Tshirts and bearing gifts from Susan of medecine for me.She drove 13hrs to get here and as much to get back, what motivation! Pascal cried when he saw her as messages had gone wrong and he though she would arrive the day before … lots of anxiety about her being in an accident or something of the sort. John even sent medecine by mail through Nathalie's friend in Tahoe … but unhappily for me there seems no miracle medecine except REST. Nathalie took extremely good care of me and made Pascal continously aware of my needs … she asked him if it was because I was a female that he had issues with me … a question that he recognized was an interesting one. In all cases, having a woman with us made the trip change rhythm, provided more relaxed times and gave Pascal a chance to walk without having to lead us or be concerned. Nathalie learned the ways of the trail fast but Pascal had to soften the harshness of this way of life as Nathalie dealt with health and personal issues.
Trail out of Echo
He was really happy to have a friend come and share his daily trail life.
Pascal is finally ok with stopping but we have a new goal which is to meet Adrien on time.
You should know that Echo Lake is wonderful but the welcome is shabby. Sure the store owner has to make money in the season, but they carry weekender stuff not real hiker substantial items like fuel for your unit, the cost is high, the quality is poor (root beer float out of a can! No hot food) and there is NO place to get water, NO place to wash hands even, just funky dry toilets that are not maintained properly. Remember to note if you're a hiker that you are NOT allowed to camp within 4 miles of the dam, and the water taxi to the end of the lake is $12 one way … Basically, plan on leaving the place as soon as you can and re-supply in South Lake Tahoe, a short hitch hike, where there are plenty of shops and available supplies at reasonable costs.
The chalets around Echo lake are beautiful, obviously either old timer families or very rich people … but they are trying to preserve them from the “people invasion” which makes for conflicts of various kinds. We camped illegally on the Equestrian crossing out of sight for 2 days and Pascal took us to the dam each night to eat the luscious grass there. Nathalie was a bit ancy as a $ 5000 fine is posted for camping, but all went well and no one cared. Pascal picked up 3 bags of garbage: glass, rusted cans, … and pieces of barbed wire and other such items.
Once again, wonderful places, to stay wonderful, need to be protected from the masses. Over population has created a set of rules and regulations that make life intolerable for the common persons and protects the few priviledged ones that are the “haves”, the “have-nots” are considered trash and are treated as such … so they act as such … except where we can make money off of them without giving them priviledges. The real culprits are not those protecting what they have (inherited or worked for) but those who in the last 50 years as our leaders have not known how to say no to economic pressures and plan for a stable equalitarian society. Birth control, ecological regulations, education, imposing on industry and services responsible behaviours … and allocating required resources so that there are garbage cans and pick up services, washrooms and toilet facilities, … etc.
On the PCT Pascal has imagined that every 100 miles there could be a solar hot water source with a bath tub and wifi as well as electricity. For the 1000+ hikers that pass by who represent a real economical boom for backcountry small towns, this is a required service. But they have a hard time keeping the trails maintained, so what hope is there? We crossed once again areas where downed trees and wash outs made it very difficult for us donkeys to progress. And remind trail maintenance crews that our slave drivers tend to pack us high and wide so when cutting a downed tree, please think of our need for at least 2 yards width and headroom !
Did I tell you that the first ranger we met in Tuolomne Meadows basically told us to get OUT OF THERE as fast as possible … She was really upset that we slowed down traffic a few seconds crossing the bridge … The ranger on horse back was much nicer.
We can tell it's summer vacation time, every few minutes we cross people on the trail and Pascal hands out cards about our blog. He must repeat the same things over and over again as people ask about us, our journey and when, where we started from. Each time we get to eat a bit of grass, but what amazes me is the incredulous look on people when they learn we are on a 15000 mile journey.
It's nice to see young people and parents with kids, groups of “buddies” or “the girls” out for an overnight hike. A few crazy runners pass by and older folks out on a day hike. This “desolation valley” area seems quite remote, but it's only a day's hike from many areas in Lake Tahoe. When we first arrived in view of this lake it looked so big that the Kit Carson types in the early 1800's must have thought they had reached the ocean.
Did I tell you that the donkey rescue in Chino Arizona we came from was taken over by someone who apparently had half the heard killed? I'm waiting for more definitive news but it seems we were saved from disaster. Wyme must be very upset, not only did they destroy my compagnions but also a life time's work building a haven for us folks.

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Well, pictures tell the story. Pascal during the winter is planning to create a slide show and a book with very few words but hundreds of pictures that tell the story of our treck on the PCT. He'll tell you more about it once it's done. If someone reading this is a printer please send him a line if you can provide economical printing and distribution services for those who might be interested.
Workshop on the trail building leather panier
Interesting talking to people. Yesterday it was a group from various nations all participating in a leadership training program with certification. They sat and listened to the multidimentional life story of Pascal and were amazed at his life's course. From running away at 16 to leading a house units remodling team at 19 … as his son asked once, what have you NOT done? Today it was a family initiating their son to hiking & camping, or a group of young folks led by a sort of scout leader … all come to see US the donkeys, the real attraction.

Have you seen the multitude of flowers we have along the path? When I think that Veronique tries to get Lupins to grow in France and here they come in all sizes, grow like weeds and sometimes are as tall as us. There is still fireweed but most amazing is the variety that grows at 8000 feet. Sometimes I feel I'm walking in a garden. Since leaving Tuolomne meadows the country has become tamer but the variety of landscapes remains amazing, from volcanic baren mountains to luscious valleys and nestled lakes with old growth trees twisted from the winds, the snow and the lightning. I wonder how it will evolve going north. We will stop at Squaw Valley and hopefully can pass by Clair Tapaan lodge from the Sierra Club where Pascal worked as an assistant cook to go skying on weekends while in high school. Then we'll cross Highway 80 and start the northern part of California which should take all of august. Hopefully Joe and Lynn can join us, possibly for the Marble Mountains area, that would be great.

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Well, REALITY has caught up with us. My foot abscess has finally opened up and Pascal was appalled at the damage within my foot. The whole interior of the foot is “rotten”, that is it has not constituted a hoof structure and there are whole areas of unstructured matter that smell bad and indicate a long decay. Pascal in doing exploratory surgery with his knife opened up the space and now with soaking in salt water and alternatively baking soda, we have managed to clean up the whole area. The treatment seems to be working, I no longer have the insistant pain and with a hoof boot I'm able to walk, albeit with some hesitation, but enough to get back on the trail.
HOWEVER, this means I need 6 months of full recuperation before I can really walk normally again. Pascal has come to this realisation and now will slowly get us from Dick's Lake, a wonderful spot where we've been the last 3 days, to the Eagle Falls trail head, 10 miles hitch-hiking to South Lake Tahoe junction 89 and 50 where he can arrange for us to be repatriated.
The decision, Susan is ok with this, is to have us back at Dreamchaser for the next 6 months in order to heal and then to resume the journey from there. Pascal seem relieved since he has taken this decision and is much more appreciative of my condition. He was so frustrated while it appeared all was well with me yet I kept limping and having difficulty walking. Now that the reality has come through, he can deal with it and make the decisions that are required.
Susan is the HERO here, she organized a complex situation at the ranch to be able to drive the 13+ hours required to come and get us in under 12 hours! A woman with such a dedication to animal welfare needs to be supported and accompanied. Please GIVE to Dreamchaser what you can of your tax deductible dollars.
This makes Adrien's coming an issue, really too bad that it could not have been a few weeks later. Pascal looked so much forward to sharing this way of life with his son.
For those who have been following the blog, please know that we will continue reporting on progress and insure that you are implicated regularly in the healing process. Anyone able to help us out is welcome to send us a word.
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So tomorrow is the last day of the PCT for this year. We will head for Eagle Creek Falls trail head and arrange my repatriation rapidly.
Meanwhile, I recommend Dick's lake, a wonderfully nested lake, clear and transparent as ice melt created lakes can be and though there is a lot of hiker passage at this time of year. The calm, the resplendissant colors of the sunrizes and sunsets on the surrounding hills are a wondrerous beauty. The daily swim in ice melted water is revigorating for Pascal, as for me I just barely wet my lips once a day to drink this delicious water. Pascal has been inspired to compose a song and is making a leather Panier to carry our things. LIFE IS GOOD.

Living at a donkey's life rhythm is a real lesson for this trip. You CANNOT expect to do what you want when you have the responsibility of animals, on whom you depend as much as they depend on you. Responsibility is acquired when you pay attention to the needs of those with whom you share your life. A lesson you learn when you raise a family.
What is wonderful is that this expected 6 months delay is not a problem, this is what the liberty of living free of constraints brings. Just like the pioneers who came to this country, you just have to adapt to the terrain, the events and you live and die with the conditions you meet.

More next week on our rappatriation to the Arizona heat and …

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