If the objective is to simply get to the other side, about a hundred feet down from where I was parked there was a rusty steel walk bridge crossing over the creek. By their new appearance in contrast to the older boards, it could be seen that some walk boards had recently been replaced.
On the other side, heading up slope, remnants of a trail could be seen. The bushes and vines were so overgrown, the trail could barely discern it. Based on the overgrowth and no foot marks, it did not appear that anyone had recently gone through the upslope trail.
On first sight, it was a puzzle to me as to why anyone (presumably the USFS) would place a very well built bridge across this stream when there seemed to be little need or value for it. I was later to learn from a United States Forest Service employee that this bridge location was to allow hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail to come down from the Trail and then walk into the Seidad valley where they could re-supply, get a shower, scarf down a few burgers and fries and generally relax for a day or so. In my three days there, I only saw two hikers cross the bridge and head up the road to the valley; two young women, very lean and fit looking, with backpacks seemingly larger than them.
On two days, I brought my chair to the middle of the bridge, sat in the morning sunshine and read while occasionally looking at the view. Often the lullaby of the water pulled me away from my book into a drowsy, hypnotic state of not here. Also, ate my lunch there. Dining on a walk bridge over a cheerful creek that I had exclusively to myself is the kind of reason that I seek out more remote places to be.
On the second morning, Bill and Peggy arrived along with two mules and a horse mare in a trailer. They worked for the USFS keeping the Pacific Crest Trail cleared. Bill said that they had been assigned fifty miles of trail to clean and clear. They were only to use hand tools, no power tools. The only way they could haul their tools in was by mule back.
Bill rode one mule, Peggy rode the mare and the third mule carried a pack with axes, hand saws, picks, shovels and the like in it. There was no lead rope on the pack mule, it readily followed the other two animals without any direction or control by Bill or Peggy. They made quite a sight as they left to do some maintenance. Bill told me later that male mules have an affinity for following a lead horse mare’s rear and that he had gone across country with multiple mules without lead ropes and that as long as the horse mare was in the lead, the mules would follow wherever the mare went.
About six o’clock they returned, looking exhausted. As they were unsaddling their animals and feeding and watering them, I invited them to have dinner with me, offering them a choice of lasagna or enchilada pie which my dear wife had made for me. With pleased smiles, they indicated that lasagna was their choice. Thanks to the blessed Oliver’s microwave, it took very little time for preparation. After eating, Peggy made a point of telling me that I should send her appreciation to my wife for the delicious lasagna. I told her that I would when I next got to a cell phone reception area.
As they ate, we talked. Bill and Peggy appeared to be about my age maybe some younger. They were very lean and fit looking. They owned a ranch in the Seidad valley where they lived and kept their various mules and horses. Having been raised on a farm with mules and horses for farm power, I had some limited awareness and experience with equines.
When I told Bill that while I liked horses, I had always thought mules were preferable for many tasks because of their agility, strength, endurance and less likelihood of spooking by comparison to a horse. Bill readily agreed and then talked about his lifetime of experience cross country packing with mules. Because of our age similarities, we had much in common including that opinion about mules. We talked for a long time until Peggy told Bill that they still had chores at the ranch and she was very tired and wanted to go home.
I was so pleased with our visit that I completely forgot to ask them to allow me to take pictures of them and their mules. My bad! But my good in having such a pleasurable conversation and visit with them.
I stayed at the Grider Creek Campground for two more nights, this was the highlight of my time there. Had I turned around at the Y, as I first thought to do so, I would not have met them nor made this nice memory.
This was the day that was.