The horses and I had a very long day as we rode into Sonora Pass--over 32 miles--but it was the last day of our Sierra section and we knew good things would be waiting for us. My mother was driving the camper and the big trailer (Bombshelter) to Sonora to meet us, so there would be plenty of good food and comfortable accommodations for both the horses and me. My other rig (Tuna Can) was already there, left three weeks earlier from when I rode north out of Sonora back up through Tahoe and stayed with Carol in Truckee, and I would take Shyla in that rig and continue back north to pick up the trail again from the further point I had earlier completed in Oregon back in June. From now on, we will be making steady progress in an northerly direction--no more skipping and backtracking due to snow!
Takoda, on the other hand, is going south with my mother and will stay in Topanga, as his job is now done. It is a hard decision to separate the two of them, but I know that a pack horse is not necessary from here on out, and having two horses to care for just makes everything twice as difficult. I'm also able to carry more supplies in the trailer with only one horse (not really an issue with Bombshelter, but definitely important with Tuna Can) and that means fewer times when I have to try to find a feed store. In fact, Mom filled up Bombshelter with hay and feed and dehydrated bales, etc., and we will transfer that to the other rig so that I will be set with supplies for quite a while. Then she will meet me in Oregon in a few days with the second rig, after dropping Takoda in Topanga, and will help me get positioned for Oregon before flying back from Bend.
It was a long day, and also a hot one, so when we passed by Dorothy Lake, I let the horses wade into the water and splash to cool off a bit before we began the ascent into Sonora Pass. As soon as we left the Yosemite area, the footing changed dramatically, from solid granite to a kind of schist, or loose shale. That unstable material poses its own problems in terms of footing for the horses, but at least it was softer going, and I think we were all glad to leave Yosemite behind us.
Maybe Takoda was just tired from the day's mileage, or maybe he had an inkling that he was going to be sent home alone, because late in the day he started lagging behind, as if he wasn't all that keen to get into camp. It was just after dark when we finally arrived, but my mom had the corrals all set up, so unpacking and getting settle for the evening was a snap, and I could tell that the horses were thrilled to have real hay again for their dinner.