This is true story of a trail ride:

Around our parts “Papa Bill” is a legend. If you’ve ridden the trail with him you can hang with the big dogs.

It was Oct 31, 1993, that should tell you everything! Nine of us in 4 vehicles started out to Cataloochee, NC.  I was told a great place to see God in all his Glory.

While traveling down I-26 the 1st truck and trailer hit a pallet in the road. You could see the whole truck and trailer come off the ground. It kind of reminded you of the cartoons.  After stopping to check on humans and horses finding no one was hurt we continued on.

 It starts snowing, now I’m thinking we ARE going to turn around, Right? Not! We continue on,

When we get of our exit we stop for ice (like we gonna to need it) and gas up. I’m still thinking we are going to turn back. But with several “men” and one tough woman (not me!) it is decided to go up. I’m just out numbered!

If you’ve never been to Cataloochee Valley let me tell you “how” you go up. Back then it was 13 miles of one lane road with a lot of switchbacks.  We had just got started up the mountain when a horse in “Papa Bill’s” trailer fell , so the whole group stops to help get the horse back on its feet. While we are trying to figure out how to get it up from under the horse beside it,  someone screams FIRE, "Pop's” truck has big flames coming out from under the hood. Everyone is grabbing fire extinguishers since he had just filled up. We get the fire out, but the truck was burnt pretty badly. The good news is during all this time the horse gets up on it’s own.

After much “manly” discussion it is decided that we will pull his truck / trailer up out of the way to allow other trucks to get by. Then Ted would take our rig up,  then come back and pull "Pop's" the trailer to camp. Now let me remind you this is a 1-lane road!   I can say I've seen a horse trailer almost horizontal.  

We finally get everything worked out and head to camp, the whole time we are meeting folks heading out due to it still snowing. When we get to camp, Ted leaves me with the trailer and horses. The last camper stops as he is leaving to inform me a bear has been in camp the last 2 nights to be on the look out, I just easy the door on the trailer close Thinking I'll just sit tight until the rest of the group gets back. 

 Then I hear a truck, I’m excited thinking we are leaving after all….. The friend, whose truck and trailer went air borne, comes pulling in to camp.  He is white as a sheet. All I could think is my Ted has wrecked going back out, After what seems like forever he tells me that he hit his brakes and due the snow the truck & trailer went off the side of the mountain. Thank God the hog head on his truck caught on the bank. As he was backing up he jackknifed the new borrowed trailer, denting it. But we have a professional body shop man in our group so it CAN be fixed.  Again everyone is OK.

All the time it’s snowing harder and harder. We finally got everyone to camp. We ended up getting 6 inches that night; needless to say we were snowed in. With the snow it was a site to see.   It doesn’t end here!

 Grandmothers homemade soup and bread hit the spot around the campfire that night! The next morning our eggs were frozen in shell, as was our banana's,  we were thinking we could make $ selling them.

OH ! That night sure enough the bear came into camp, the stud got lost due to bear. I can still remember seeing  2 guys running across the snow in their union suits, one bare footed, the other with his boots on & his cigar. When I crawled out from under the many covers to see what the commotion was, They only had one halter between them.  A short while later both came ridding back to camp on 2 scared to death horses, One with a halter the other following with nothing on it!  a site to remember!

The next day we finally got everything worked out we went on a trail ride “Pop” leading, yep we hadn’t learned our lesson, We went up to Mount Sterling, a lovely place to see. But I’m afraid of heights and I’m ridding a green Arab mare that was in full season with a stud in our group!

I ended up find the “Jungle Juice” in one of our group’s saddlebags; I nursed it the whole day!

 The range told us that was one of the hardest rides in good weather much less with 6 inches of snow. While on the trail all horses do an about face. My mare  steps backward off the mountain, Ted yelled "Kick her!", it didn’t take but one kick and she was glued to the side of the mountain…. I could feel her heart beating. We go a short way and find were a bear had slid down the mountain. This mare literarily cut her 4-year-old teeth that weekend.

“Papa Bill” just about lost a friend who brought him a truck to get home in. After coming up the mountain in the snow, he let “Pop” know that he would have turned around if only there had been a place to do so….

We finally feel it is safe enough for us to head home; it had been very unusual trip so we decided to treat ourselves to a nice steak at The Royal Steak House in Fletcher, NC. When we exit off we see lots of steam…. the water pump in our truck went out, we ended up spending another cold night in a restaurant parking lot with 3 horses tied to trees....

But the next morning the folks brought us coffee out and fed us good. I think they felt sorry for us after we told our tale of the trail ride from Hell.

"Pop" came to the rescue the next day with the borrowed truck. But he got a big fine while doing so.

And lastly: When we got home we found our dog had accidentally been locked in the store, she had eaten RED doggie biscuits for 5 days and left the remains everywhere,,,,,,

It really happened! Even though all the problems, we saw a great deal of compassion from many folks and nature at it’s best. There was a full moon that weekend quite lovely with all the snow.  It was also peak week so the trees were in full array; with the snow it was a trail ride to remember!!  

I never wrote the whole trip up but have shared it many times. We call it a "Papa Bill” trail ride, it has scared a many of folk off! Looking back Now I can see God was with us the whole time as we were all safe!

And folks if you really want to “see” the world from the back of a horse ride with “Pop, Lefty, Kennth and Henry you’ll never regret it!! Now a days when I hear someone is “Good to ride the trail with”  I know what that means!


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