This is Erin here, actually doing her own blog entry for once :) I have made the decision to end my adventure. Yoakum suddenly developed some swelling in his back. It was bad enough that he was limping with just the saddle on. It may come down somewhat in the next few days, but not enough that I'd feel comfortable taking him into the wilderness in Wyoming. Yoakum has also been becoming more and more reluctant to be on the trail, and I think he's just tired, sore, and ready to be done. I am not willing to take the risk of ruining him.
Luckily, when Yoakum's swelling showed up we were only about four miles from a highway. I walked the two of them out with Kershaw carrying the pack saddle and loads, walked back in with him unloaded, picked up the riding saddle and headed back out. Cindy and Duke Wilson who had arranged my resupply in the area picked me up at Willow Creek Pass right on the divide. Between them and the Bennetts, the couple whose place I was to stay at, my mules were taken care of, and I was fed and stuck on a shuttle to Denver. There I caught a plane to Albuquerque, picked up my truck and trailer, and started heading north. Liz and Goat from Wolf Creek Ranch were kind enough to put me up last night. I'll be picking the boys up later today and heading home.
I'm disappointed that we didn't make it to Canada and even more disappointed that an injury stopped us instead of weather. However, I figure doing only half of the insanely difficult crazy goal I set for myself isn't toooooo bad ;) On the up side, I never had to worry about grizzlies. There's always the next trip . . .
I am so proud of Yoakum and Kershaw. They carried my gear and me through country that most pack mules only have nightmares about. I told my father at the beginning of this trip that there were two possibilities for Yoakum after the trip was over. He could be for sale the day I finsihed or be family forever. He's family.
This whole adventure has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much about the backcountry, packing, my own abilities, and the kindness of strangers. This is an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. I think it's safe to say I won't need to have a midlife crisis in 20 or so years ;) Got it out of my system now.
I am so grateful and flattered at how many people have followed this expedition. It's been very humbling to see how much this trip has meant to so many different people. I've been astonished again and again by the people who have heard of my crazy journey and have cared so much about it.
I'd like to thank all of my sponsors. Your support did so much to help defray the costs of this trip. Thank you also to everyone who's helped me along the way. I never managed to stop anywhere for long without being "adopted" by someone. I'm very grateful to all the people who made my trip easier along the way.
So . . . . . I realized about a week ago that I was really and truly, completely and entirely, bonkers. I started planning the next trip. All of the so-called friends who I made promise to talk me out of ever doing anything like this again are being disloyal and telling me to go for it. I guess the lure of the trail isn't ready to let me go yet.
A dream of mine since I was a little girl is to write for National Geographic. They offer Expedition Grants with a special category for Young Explorers under 25. I applied for one for this expedition and made it through the first round of selection, but not the second. I intend to have a National Geographic Grant for my next adventure. I think I just need to work on my budgeting skills ;)
I'd like to do a historical re-enactment trip of some type. My best idea so far is to follow the route of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce during their attempt to escape to Canada. I'm also doing research into other potential native american routes and travels of the early mountain men and scouts. If anyone has any good ideas, please contact me!
As for this blog, I'll be filling in some of the holes along the journey with more information about what it was like to be there on the ground and making a few corrections where wires got crossed. There is certainly more to come! I hope y'all keep track of me. I promise to give y'all something interesting in the future! Thanks again