…and the winner of the PCT photo contest is…

Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.

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"Sierra Cowboy" was the winning photo of the 2019 Pacific Crest Trail photo contest in the equestrian category.
“Sierra Cowboy” was the winning photo of the 2019 Pacific Crest Trail photo contest in the equestrian category.

– me!

Well, a winner, anyway. A winner of a particular category, and frankly, I’ll take what I can get! “Sierra Cowboy” came in First Place in Equestrian for the 2020 Pacific Crest Trail Association Photo Contest. Hooray!

What a day that was when I snapped that pic. The PCT veers to the left at beautiful Thousand Island Lake splitting off from the John Muir Trail which continues straight. I hiked the JMT eight years before, so was happy to try out this detour and walk the designated PCT route. But several hikers seemed biased against it, so when the trail stayed in the woods, dipping steeply up and down, I wondered if I’d made a poor decision.

But soon, I climbed out of the woods onto an exposed ridge that looked across a deep valley, the JMT far below. The views from my perch were astounding, the snow-capped “Range of Light” directly to my right. I was all alone up there, soaking it in and singing in the sunshine, knowing that in a few days, a cold front would move through and likely bring snow (which it did, plus bracing cold)

As I crested the ridge and began to see down towards my destination below where the trails meet up again, a cowboy slowly approached me, kicking up dust which settled on sagebrush lining the trail. He’d likely just delivered his charges and was leading the horse train back to Red Meadows Resort.

“Howdy!” I exclaimed to his tip of the hat. “You look straight out of central casting,” bringing a quizzical look as he pressed past my scrawny self far up and off the trail where the horses could see me but no hoof could reach me.

“Howdy!” I exclaimed to his tip of the hat. “You look straight out of central casting,” bringing a quizzical look as he pressed past my scrawny self far up and off the trail where the horses could see me but no hoof could reach me.

As they strode off, their line created a perfect foil to the grandeur of the mountains, like a beginner’s class in painting perspective. His Stetson was small at the top of the frame, the final horse’s considerable rump, wobbly and unwieldy despite its obviously cared for sheen.

This season, due to Covid19, the PCT Association is asking hikers to postpone or cancel their hiking plans.

I am deeply grateful to the Pacific Crest Trail Association for their dedicated work keeping hikers safe and maintaining the trail, as well as for their devotion to preserving wilderness for future generations. I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to walk the trail from end-to-end when I did. This season, due to Covid19, the PCT Association is asking hikers to postpone or cancel their hiking plans.

Please do stay home right now, but, if you can, take solo walks in your own backyard. This difficult time will eventually pass and the mountains will still be there when we get to the other side. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Keep me posted on where you’re walking and what you see. ~alison

You can see all the winners in this year’s PCTA Photo Contest in a nifty slideshow by clicking here.

Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

Reader Comments

  1. Love it! Especially after the description of the snap. Gorgeous country, great perspective and animals . . .of course it’s a winner! I’d love to be there right now.

    Keep moving your feet . . . we (me and my dogs) are! Always was the best part of my day. Still is!😘

    1. me too! I am walking every day and the Gov encouraged us to continue even in lockdown. Pre-rain down Ireland to the capitol. It is also the best part of my day!! 🐥👣🎒♥️

      1. I’m sitting here alone (husband is here physically . . . . )drinking wine, wishing you were here to hike with us tomorrow morning! Someday!

    1. thank you, Zola. Check out the slideshow from the link. Such gorgeous pix, but I don’t think I know any of the photographers!

  2. Congratulations! You have more talents in more fields (that I care about) than anybody I know. I hope that you and R are doing as well as possible in our new world. I’m in Alexandria where I look out on the frozen lake. I’ve been walking quite a lot at Lake Carlos State park. Most of the paths are icy but walkable. I also walk around this neighborhood with our neighbors and their dog. No crowds, of course. I walked along Minnehaha Creek with a friend last Saturday, at the Eastman Nature Center last Sunday. Spring is coming-the pussywillows are out; I saw an great blue heron and three swans-where were going?-today.
    I’m splitting my time between places, I guess. My folks are here, my friends are in the city but, really, sitting at the lake or in the city is remarkable the same. Someday soon..

    1. You are one of my favorite walking buddies. Always splendid conversation and sometimes muddy, overgrown paths! 🤣 I saw a lawn crowded with cranky robins ready for spring, the rain felt like New Zealand and pussy willows abound. Walking is blissful in these rough times. See you on my right the trail soon, Ken!

    1. Thank you! This was one of the most spectacular days in a string of spectacular days! How are you holding up? Our governor has locked down MN, but we are encouraged to walk outside, just at a distance!

  3. What a great photo. It tells an entire story in one frame. The composition is well done, too. I enjoyed the podcast episode, too, where you hiked the border trail. Thanks for sharing your stories. And the music.

  4. Congratulations! Looks like you chose the right trail and were rewarded for this wonderful, iconic western scene. Lovely work! When I walk by your house I always look to see if by chance you are outside so I can say ‘Hi’ in person. Take care. Hope to see you soon!

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