Saturday, October 14, 2006

DAY EIGHT... Woke up at 6:00am fed the horses. Finished packing everything and saddled everybody up and was on the trail by 8:00am. We took as much weight out of Maggey's pack as possible so she didn't have that much to carry. Right away I noticed she wasn't moving as fast and then when we started going up hill she was stopping and refusing to go. We had to give her a rest every 50 feet or less. We were getting close to the top where the desert area was and she collapsed on the trail right between two rocks, almost held up by her pack saddle. Tony took his horses and tied them up the trail about 30 feet ahead and grabbed his rope. When he got back he started popping her on her rump with his rope while I pulled on the lead rope with my horse. Cahlibur tried pulling as hard as he could but it was hard for him to pull because there was only a small flat place to step before the next step up; but she did not get up. We pulled on her lead rope, lifted up her tail, tried pulling her feet and chest area up, but she didn't even try at all. By this time we were starting to get tired, sweaty, and really worried, so we gave her a rest and took off the rest of the pack saddle and tried again. Still she didn't even try to get up. We lifted her hind quarters far enough off the ground, she only had to hold her legs under her, but she still didn't even try. We were out of options and had only one thing left to do. We got down and laid our hands on her and prayed for God's help, got up and asked her to try again to get up and she did. We took her up the trail to where the other horses were and let her rest while I took Cahlibur's saddle off and put the pack saddle on him for the first time with weight and the second time actually being on him. He did excellent, just stood there while I put the saddle on him, readjusted every strap to fit him and then put the panniers, tied them down and then put on the top pack. Then I took my saddle and put it on Maggey and tied her to Cahlibur. When I started to lead Cahlibur down the trail, Maggey just dropped again, but this time she got up right away. I had to give Cahlibur to Tony and have him pony him and Belle while I led Maggey. We still did the walk a little and rest routine, but that was getting us nowhere fast. Then for no apparent reason, Belle started acting up and after a couple of switchbacks, started bucking every time she moved. I took Cahlibur and wrapped his lead rope around the saddle horn of my saddle on Maggey. That way Tony could take Belle and go up ahead at a faster pace. When I finally caught up to him, he had his horses off trail and was taking off Belle's pack saddle to readjust it, to see if that would stop her bucking. That's when he found out that a buckle had worn a raw spot on her side. We put the saddle back on and tied the buckle to the front cinch. When we started moving again, Belle kept on bucking. So...we had to leave all the gear wrapped in a canvas tarp with a note saying a pack station was coming to pick up the gear. We then headed out again still slowed down by Maggey. When we finally made it to Lake of the Lone Indian, a very hard decision had been made. Maggey and I walked out into the meadow at the edge of the lake, I leaned over and untied her halter, patted her on the neck and left her standing there. As I passed the lookout spot for the lake, I told the Indian of the Lake that he now had his horse. It was hard not to think about her but we had to make first camp below Mono Rock by nightfall in order for us to be able to make it out. Because we had had to leave the panniers and supplies behind we only had a couple of bags of Jack Link's Jerky a piece. We were now making better time. At the base of Silver Pass, we passed a couple of lady hikers on their way to Mt. Whitney. When we got up to the pass we came up to the 16 foot snow bank. Even though Cahlibur gave it his best try, the snow was too slippery to get up so we went back down the trail and headed east out past the end of the snow bank and a large outcropping of rock. Behind the rock was a little path cut out by melting snow that we were able to follow and get up over the pass. We gave the horses a little rest and continued on. We passed Pocket Meadow at 1:30pm and kept on going. Down below our trail, was the Mono Creek Trail. We passed a group of forest service guys making camp right off the trail, but they didn't see us up here. We also saw three different groups of pack trains and out of them only one person from the second train saw us. When we passed the second group we came to a meadow were they had some of their stock turned loose. When the stock saw us they came up running and started following us. It took four attempts at running them off for them to stay at the meadow. We were about 10 minutes from first camp when we passed the third pack train. Their tents and most of their livestock were down along the creek while the stock that was grazing closer to us came up running to meet us. One had a cow bell wrapped around its neck, which made our horses a little nervous. We tried running them back to the meadow, but the one with the bell followed us all the way to our camp. We tied our horses up and lead the gelding back across the creek and then he ran off into the woods toward the rest of the stock. Back at camp we unsaddled our horses, took them to the creek and then let them eat for about 50 minutes, took them back to the water and then put them out on the picket line. We rolled out our bedrolls, ate a couple pieces of jerky and went to sleep. Before we fell asleep we could hear dogs barking and howling into the night. We suspected they were dogs brought in by the pack trains. A couple of times during the night, when I woke up, I could here the bell of that horse off in the distance as it walked along. Travis

Woke up around 5:45am and turned the horse loose to graze. No change in Maggey still. We saddled up and headed out about 8:00am. Almost immediately we noticed that Maggey was pretty bad off. She would walk 40 or 50 feet and then we would have to rest her. After we started uphill it just got worse, she could only travel 10 to 15 feet before refusing to go anymore. We led her about a mile when she collapsed mid-stride over the rocks. We tried everything we could think of to get her up...from pulling her with Cahlibur, to swatting her on the rump with the tail end of my lariat. We eventually physically lifted her front end up and then picker her back end up. But she just didn't have the energy. We had to take off all her packs to get her up. We put the packsaddle on Cahlibur and the saddle on Maggey so she would have a light load. She walked about 6 feet and then collapsed again. All this time I had been fighting Belle. She had bucked the entire way. She kept pushing Coal and shoving him off the trail. When I removed her pack, I found a large sore on her right side. About this time was when Maggey collapsed again. We made the decision to leave our pack saddles and equipment. We laid our big tarp down in a clearing of the side of the trail and put our panniers in the middle of it with our packsaddles on top of them. We then took one of our extra ropes and tied it tight after leaving a note asking people to please leave it alone and that a pack station was coming to retrieve it. We pushed, pulled, and dragged Maggey as far as Lake of the Lone Indian, after coming to the painful decision to leave her. With having to leave all our gear we didn't have time to make it out with what supplies we could carry in our saddle bags, if we took Maggey. I can't begin to describe the feeling of helplessness and heartache that goes along with the knowledge that one of your horses is sick and probably dying and there is nothing you can do about it. We left Maggey in a large green pasture close to the lake, so that is she survived she would have plenty of food and water. When we reached the top of Silver Pass we weren't able to climb back up the snowbank. So we turned west and rode out and around it and made our own path up over the rocks. When we reached the top I got off of Coal, handed Belle off to Trav and led Coal all the way down to where the trail split and headed for Lake Thomas Edison. I had to go back up a ridge and was just too tired to walk so I rode Coal up and over and then down the trail a couple of miles. I then got off and led him again. While on the way up to our first camp we passed several camps that were out of Rock Creek Pack Station. We had to chase some of their horses because they kept trying to follow us up the trail. This was quite interesting because the Boss mare had a large cowbell around her neck that made an ungodly amount of noise. Between the first and second camps they had put up a stock barricade that we had to take down and then reset. Just as we were about to make it to camp, a gelding from the second camp came running up behind us and followed us all the way to our camp. He also had a cowbell. After tying the horses up we ran him off down the trail toward the other horses and he didn't return. We led the horses back into the trees to eat and then after watering them went to bed. We had traveled 16.5 miles, 8 or 9 or more of those I had walked. Tony


Sheila said...

What do you suppose was wrong with Maggey? I nearly cried to hear of the trouble.

Janey Loree said...

Hi Sheila, We are not completely sure. Either colic or a twisted gut (intestine). I did cry when I was posting because Maggey ended up dying up there. These horses mean so much to my guys and I've come to love their special personalities. We do have Clancey her colt, to remember her by.

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