Bye to mom, hello UFO
I reluctantly said good-bye to my mother at Edison Lake and set back out onto the trail today, headed north, but I will see her again soon at the conclusion of this section at Sonora Pass, where we will meet up once more so that she can take Takoda back home with her. This Sierra section is about the only part of the PCT where I think having a pack animal is a real benefit; because there are so few opportunities for re-supplying, it is difficult to carry sufficient quantities of food without the risk of over-burdening the horse. So shifting the bulk of that to Takoda allows me to feed the horses well and not have to cut back on their feed. If I was only going on a section ride for a week or so and could make up for any deficiencies as soon as I was done, it might not be so necessary to keep the quantity--and quality--of the food as high as possible, but when Shyla has over 2600 miles to go in total, I can't ask her to do that on starvation rations, nor can I overtax her by making her carry an excessively heavy load. Temporary extraordinary measures might be justifiable, but I am asking her to cover 20-30 miles a day, day after day, week after week, all the way from Mexico to Canada. So this is the one part of the trail where Takoda's presence is a real necessity. But after this, he is going to go back home to Topanga. He and Shyla won't be happy about the separation, and I do feel bad about it, but feeding and caring for two horses is twice as much work for me, and it also offers twice as many opportunities for problems--for lost shoes or saddle sores or difficulties with obstacles. So Takoda's work is almost at an end, even though Shyla still has another month and a half ahead of her.
It was pretty much an uneventful day, with only 17 miles to cover, and although there were clouds overhead through much of the afternoon, the storm stayed to the south of us. Then that night, after I stopped and made camp a little bit south of Lake Virginia, I saw something completely startling and strange: a huge fireball suddenly streaked across the sky, trailing a shower of sparks and accompanied by a loud "boom". It was travelling much more slowly than a usual shooting star, and it was a lot bigger and closer by; I was literally able to watch it light up the sky. I found out later that this was just some "space junk" re-entering the atmosphere and burning up, but boy it sure got my attention! I was waiting for an invasion of little green men to come down the trail next, chanting "Take us to your leader." Hopefully, they would have remembered to bring their backpacks!