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The horses are in fairly good shape. My pack horse Tuffy is only four years old and has never been on a long pack trip before. He is a stout 13 hand sorrel pony, and Rusty, my saddle horse, is a fourteen-year-old Missouri Fox Trotter, strawberry roan in color, and stands a shade over 15 hands tall.

I spent a lot of time getting ready and plan to ride the old pack trails I found on historical maps; many from the research library at the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona. This is going to be a real challenge, as I don’t know if the old trails I want to travel even exist today. Much of the country we will be riding through has some of the roughest terrain in the state of Arizona with water holes few and far apart.

I’m starting from Dewey, which is just east of Prescott, riding out through Bloody Basin, and then into the Mazatzal Wilderness. When I return I’ll be traveling through the Verde Valley and up over the Black Mountains to Dewey and home.

Don’t know how long I will be gone and really don’t care. There are no time limits on this trip. To me there is a pleasure like none other riding through the silent mountains and picturesque valleys of the Southwest; a rugged land rich in beauty and adventure.

On the trail I know my strength will increase in every way; physically, mentally, and spiritually. I never have to worry, for God tells us in Proverbs 3:6 that if we acknowledge Him in everything, He promises to direct our steps. So come along and ride with me!

   
       
     
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Daylight came early and we were up and about. Got a lot of things to do the first day of a pack trip. It was exactly a year ago that I had started out last year. This trip will be different, for my wife Jan and our friends, Don and Freda are riding with me. We are traveling in a different direction from the last two pack trips. This time we are riding over the rim of the Cedar Bench and Pine Mountain Wilderness areas, and then climbing up the Verde Rim to Long Mesa. After leaving Long Mesa we will travel down through Bloody Basin to an old Indian trail going east to Red Creek, from there we follow the creek to the Verde River. After we cross the Verde we will ride through the Mazatzal Wilderness towards the town of Payson to the East Verde River, there we will turn west and hopefully end up in the town of Strawberry. Leaving Strawberry we will ride to Fossil Creek and into the Coconino National Forest where we will take the Towel Creek Trail to the Verde River at Brown Springs. Then from there we will take the Rodeo Flats Trail and on to the Salt Mine Road to Camp Verde. At Camp Verde we will go up through Copper Canyon to the Flower Pot Ranch, then ride across the open range to Yellow Jacket Creek. After we leave there we will cross under Interstate—17 and travel to Spring Valley to Don and Freda’s small ranch. When Jan and I leave there we will have about a twenty-mile ride to our home in Dewey. On this adventure we will take some old pack trails the forest service told me might not be passable or even there anymore and we might have to make some new ones.

I am riding Rusty, a sixteen-year-old Missouri Foxtrotter, and packing Tuffy, a stout six-year-old pony. Jan is riding Hornet, a five-year-old Missouri Foxtrotter, and packing Judy, a nine-year-old Molly mule. Freda is riding Mapache, a 15-year-old Paso Fino, and packing Karnaval, a 3-year-old half Arab, pinto filly. Don is riding Blue, a 16-year-old Missouri Foxtrotter, and packing Chico, also a Foxtrotter.