The sky is falling
I continued on the next day through the tangle of trees across the trail in the Sky Lakes Wilderness that often made for very slow progress. And one of them even caught me by surprise . . . I was riding through an old burn area, with lots of blackened trees that often fell across the trail at awkward angles, and I was checking the map on my phone, so I wasn't looking where we were going as I should have been. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a big burned branch coming that was blocking the trail at just the right height so that Shyla could barely squeeze under it--but not with me on her back. Wham! the branch hit me in the stomach, and I instinctively grabbed onto it as I was swept out of the saddle and off Shyla's back while she continued walking forward under the tree. But just as she slipped out from under me--CRACK!--the weakened branch broke under my weight and I fell smack onto the trail behind Shyla, flat on my back on top of my backpack like a turtle upside down on its shell. I actually felt lucky that I was wearing the backpack, as I think it cushioned my fall a bit and kept me from having the wind knocked out of me by the fall.
It was a longer day than it should have been with all the obstacles, but by 5pm we had met my mom walking up to meet us on the trail and had returned to the trailhead at Highway 140. We loaded into the Bombshelter and then started driving back north towards Diamond Lake, stopping to pick up Tuna Can along the way. We got Shyla settled at the Diamond Lake corrals again, then had dinner at the resort and went to a campground along the lake for the night.