July 7, 2017
This morning we woke up ready to head back out on trail. We had to skip Segment 7 due to a fire closure, so we took a zero day the day before to rest the horses. Today, we will continued onto Segment 8.
The first half of the trail is a lengthy climb as you make your way up to Searle Pass. Everything about this trail was beautiful.The grass was so green, and the views of the mountains ahead were amazing.
We saw a lot more snow today! It’s one thing being a hiker dealing with snow and ice, but when you add a horse to the equation… things get a lot more complicated and can get dangerous fairly quick. We were very cautious with any snow we had to cross, and we were lucky not to have any major issues today. We just took it slow.
The most dangerous section was when we came up to a snow bridge that had already started melting quite a bit. Water was rushing underneath it, but there was a little path which was already cleared through the middle. Makani wasn’t too keen about this rushing, snow monster, so I got off and led her through it. I did not want her to step onto a section that looked solid but would not be able to hold her weight.
This segment stays above the treeline for a few miles. You actually leave the trees at mile 8.7 and stay above until mile 13.5. The highest point on Segment 8 is Elk Ridge at 12,282 ft. I guess this is now the highest we have been on trail, so far. Next was Kokomo Pass. By the time we reached this pass, the wind had started to pick up. It was getting quite chilly, so we made our way back down to the tree line.
Camping for this section was interesting. We had a general idea on the area we wanted to camp, but we were not 100% sure it would be an ideal spot to set up camp. Segment 8 has a few restrictions on camping. Camping is prohibited on the first four miles of the segment as the trail travels through a ski resort. Then between mile 17.2 and mile 20.1, camping is not allowed because of possible um… unexploded munitions! Yes, land mines. The trail passes by the historic Camp Hale bunkers which was a training facility built in 1942 during World War II.
We were planning to camp near Fiddler Creek at mile 21.7, since we knew there should at least be water. But a mile or so before we reached Fiddler Creek, we found a nice spot to camp. There were a few little streams on trail, and this campsite offered plenty of grass for the horses to graze on. We set up camp and grazed the horses the rest of the day.
Tomorrow, we had a few more miles left of Segment 8 to finish, then we would ride all of Segment 9 and resupply at the trailhead.