Life is not without its challenges, this we all know. It is true even, perhaps especially, in our pursuit of adventure, our enjoyment of brief moments of leisure, or indulging in our passions. Nothing worth doing is going to be easy.
And, these past couple of days was no exception as I attempted to help my wife enjoy her hard-earned vacation and a long-hoped for trail-packing trip with a good friend.
The first challenge came on the way to the trailhead when our trusty (28 year-old) truck quit, smack-dab in the middle of a one-lane forest service road on a nice 20%+ grade, jack-knifed (naturally) in the midst of attempting to back the horse trailer into a small turnaround area, rather than the adjacent forest. We’d had the foresight to bring along a separate vehicle for my planned return home, but alas, there was no room to pass the truck to attempt a jump-start.
This was one of those times when I was flat-out of ideas and with a trickle of cars full of vacationing hikers stacking up behind us, the pressure to “do something” was mounting. Sadly, we had no tools, no way to back down, no way to pass, and a couple of large and impatient animals to contend with.
Aside from one elderly couple that (by all appearances) must have been eating lemons all morning, most of those stuck behind us were kind, patient, and ready to help. One fellow, out for a bit of mountain biking with his family, scrounged up a bike repair tool kit and was able to remove the battery from his car which, when cabled up to ours, did the trick. Man, was I grateful.
After helping the gals saddle up, I returned home to work and, later, spent a very enjoyable evening watching the full moon rise while eating fresh crab at my neighbor’s fire pit, reliving our misspent formative years. I was worrying, of course, that the girl’s challenges had only just begun.
Trail packing is my wife’s dream, something that, if I had more time, I’d like to become more involved with, but, in the end, this is really her thing. I was glad that she had company, but this was the first time she’d been out as the one in charge, the one with experience and all of the responsibility that goes with it.
So, were there mishaps? Well, what do you think? Of course there were. Have you spent any time around horses? They are just about the biggest, most powerful, and most unpredictable creatures we’ve ever had the sheer audacity to put a rope around and just hop on up to ride. In moments of (usually private) reflection, I consider this a possible form of lunacy….sort of like jumping out of perfectly good airplanes just for the thrill of it.
Anyway, my wife’s 8- year-old Tennessee Walker stepped off the trail (chasing butterflies, so to speak, or being chased by them) and bruised a leg in big hole, which prompted an early return the next day. All of which was followed by a couple of hour adventure of trying to get the same horse loaded back into the trailer, swapping rigs for the pull down the mountain, and finally, returning to rescue the truck. Needless to say, I didn’t get much work done that afternoon.
Later, I’d asked my wife whether she’d seen the good fellow who’d helped me get the truck started the previous day…I’d asked her to please have him to call me when they got off the mountain so I could treat them somehow. And, yes, she had seen him and, again, expressed our gratitude. In response to our offer…he said just the right thing. In fact, to a fellow who’s taken on the mantle of “Harry Tuttle”, you could say that he couldn’t have put it any better.
And, if you can’t guess what that was…the following clip just might refresh your memory.