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Four Mile Lake To Cold Springs

This was going to be our last trip of the summer. It was also our first time to be out in the "wilderness" with no one to rely on but ourselves. This time it was just Marge, Daniel and myself. Marge brought 3 donkeys for the first time. I took Biscuit again.

We got to the trailhead, at Four Mile Lake, late and didn't get packed and ready to go until noon. We were going into the Sky Lakes Wilderness and planned to be gone 3 days and 2 nights. Marge and I did a walk around and located where the PCT was. We have both ridden this part of the trail before. The Sky Lakes is noted for it's many lakes and ponds. We were very lucky and did not have many bugs to battle.

So with Marge leading her string, Daniel on Crystal and me and Biscuit following behind, we set out.

Margie and Daniel with their pack string of 3 donkeys.

Our first stop was lovely Long Lake. Along the way, we had met several horses and riders. Most of the horses were afraid of the donks. A couple of the riders had to get off and lead their horses past us. Maybe it was the long ears. Maybe it was the packs the donkeys had on.

Daniel shares his lunch with Crystal.

We came to a deadfall on the trail. It was a tricky one to get around. Margie and her girls make it look easy.

We had intended to camp at a horse camp near Dee Lake. We found the trail that led to the camp but after Margie and Daniel scouted it out, they found that there was just too much deadfall for us to get around. It's a shame too because they said it was a lovely camp. Margie is wanting a group of us to go back in and clear the trail for future use.

We had to double back and we headed for Blue Canyon Trail. Daniel and I stayed with the donkeys while Margie went ahead to look for a good camp site near Island Lake. It was starting to get late and we were getting pressed for time. Margie ran into a couple that were camping. Come to find out, they are from our town and have been coming to the same camp for the past 39 years. Not only that.....they were donkey packing! They had a nice mammoth gelding, named Droopy, with them. They also had a great spring near their camp. We loaded up on water there and it was so cold and clean.

Sally and Droopy

We found an old horse camp and got settled in for the night. The trees were mostly dead so we had to be careful where we strung our highlines. We had packed in our own feed and the donkeys were busy eating while we fixed our supper. Margie had a surprise for us. She had brought all the makins' for coconut cream pie! She had also brought along a cell phone. I called home to check on things. It felt strange lying there on my sleeping bag, looking up at the stars, in the middle of the wilderness, and talking on a phone.

Our Camp

Island Lake was beautiful and there was a lovely meadow that we grazed the donkeys in. It's a good thing that we brought along a bucket. Only one donkey would go down to the lake. We ended up hauling water to them.

Biscuit at Island Lake

Itty Bitty and Biscuit

Itty Bitty was giving Margie some trouble about being saddled. Once she was on the trail, she was GREAT! Because Margie had 3 donkeys to pack and get ready, we got a late start. We hit the trail at 11 and it was already hot. We got back on the PCT and went a couple of miles when Margie started feeling sick. We thought she had heat exhustion from her symptoms. She felt sick to her stomach and was very hot. We just stopped on the trail and Margie laid there, with her feet higher than her head, and with Daniel sponging her off with water we carried. After an hour, I unpacked the donkeys and strung up the highlines and put them on it. Thank goodness Margie had the cell phone. We had to call for help. I called a friend of mine and told her to call anyone in our local horse club and tell them where we were and to bring a saddle horse for Margie to ride out. She was able to find Bryan Hodges and he was going to come in at Cold Springs trailhead and then head down the PCT to meet us. He also notified Search and Rescue.

After 3 1/2 hours, Margie felt like she would be able to walk out. We still had about 4 1/2 miles to go. We got the donks ready and headed out again. It was so dry and hot on that section of the trail. After going down a very steep trail, we finally reached Deer Lake. Bryan's wife called us and said they were just leaving the trailhead. It was 5:30 by then. We drank and watered the donkeys and started out again. Margie was feeling pretty good but I was starting to wish this trip was over. I was so tired and HOT!

Itty Bitty at Deer Lake

Biscuit at Deer Lake

We were heading down Cold Springs Trail when Bryan met us. Both his horses were afraid of the donkeys. Margie and I both wanted to keep walking out so Bryan stayed ahead of us but kept checking on us as we kept going. When we reached Cold Springs Trailhead, Margie was surrounded by an EMT and Search and Rescue people. We were sorry to cause them all that trouble but sure were happy to see them. So our summer packing trips ended with us going 44 miles. Nothing to sneeze at. We are looking forward to next summer and are even planning some small hikes near town for this month.

Search and Rescue checking Margie out.

Our hero Bryan.

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