Originally Posted by prairiewindlady View Post
I am an amateur/hobbyist filmmaker/videographer, having gone to school for communications and worked as a professional photographer for a number of years....and I would be happy to help out any way I can:) I have been following this thread with interest as I have similar aspirations as far as long treks go...I am currently planning to backpack the 68 mile VA Highlands Horse Trail in the spring, along with my 2 Grayson Highlands ponies who will be accompanying me as pack animals.
Like I mentioned, the plan is to start out at Douglas, AZ on or about March 1, 2015. As far as I can determine from maps, etc, the route will be somewhere between 1500 and 2000 miles (Google puts it at 1152, as I recall, by roads, although the websites for the GWT indicate somewhere between 3,000 and 4452 miles of trails in the system) and end up at the Canadian border in Montana. I expect the trip to take about 4-5 months.
The plan is for a friend of mine and I to do the trip together, but his situation is a little different than mine, so I don't know whether he'll be able to make the full trip. In fact, I doubt he will, however I have several friends and family who have expressed an interest in doing portions of the trip with me. So, my thought is that I would open up the trip to other people who might also wish to do a portion of the trip with me as well. This is going to complicate planning, while at the same time, might simplify logistical support.
If we were to be able to plan for pick-ups and drop-offs of riders at specific places, I could use those stops for re-supply as well as dropping off and picking up riders. I expect to take two pack animals and that should be sufficient for myself and one other rider (2 people, 4 horses), so the incoming riders might also need their own pack horse, depending on the numbers, which I would try to keep down to 1-2 extra riders between stops. I think I could make most of the stops between 3-5 days apart. It would take extra time, but if the incoming riders were willing to contribute to the supplies expense (provide food and feed) and make a contribution to the charity, it might be worth the extra time and would take care of my re-supply needs for much of the trip.
So, there are my thoughts so far on the trip. Having a videographer along might actually pay for itself, since some of the folks coming along for the ride would probably be willing to pay for videos of their portion of the trip, like folks do on commercial outfitted trips.
As far as equipment, I'm starting from scratch. In all my years of camping and packing, I've mostly used my dad's equipment, since I moved a lot with my career and couldn't store it. I have now retired and am able to start accumulating my own gear and animals. I'm planning to build my own saddle and pack saddles (something I've always wanted to do). I have one horse I'm working with right now and have an eye open for a second. I'm starting to accumulate horse and camp gear that I'll need. I'm learning basic farrier skills and have basic farrier tools.
I'm planning to take a GPS unit of some sort, a good camera with an image stabilizer (as a backup if I can get a videographer) and possibly take a notebook computer and sat phone. I am planning for a solar charger unit to keep things charged. I would be able to update my website on my progress whenever there was cell or sat coverage. Since communications and computer stuff is changing so rapidly, I plan to wait until just before I go to purchase that stuff, but I'm starting to research it now, just to keep apace with the technology.
I'm not broke, but not wealthy either, so I'm trying to start accumulating gear now, so as to avoid a huge spending spree just before the trip.
So, you can also see why I'm considering making a website about the trip. I figure a lot of folks might like to keep track of my preparations as well as the trip.
Still, when it all comes down to it, I'm not as young as I used to be. I'll be 56 when I start the trip. My buddy will be in his 60s. We both have wives and families. A lot could change in a hurry between now and then. I'm taking one day at a time and trying not to get too far ahead of myself.
I attached a pic of my partners in crime, Penny and Clancy. As of now, it looks like they'll be accompanying me on the trip. The saddle is a 1947 Hamley I inherited from my wife's family. It's worn out, though and in need of a refurb. It is a little narrow in the gullet for Penny, though, so I'm planning on building a new saddle to fit her a little better - broad flat back.
My dad recently gave me an old "cactus saddle" that I'm going to rebuild and duplicate. It appears to be from around the 1880-1920 time frame, although all that was left was the tree and pommel cover. I'm rebuilding and duplicating the tree now, and learning a lot in the process. I've recut the bar angle to 90* to better fit a modern horse, but leaving the cantle as-is. The duplicate saddle will be built with "full-QH" bars to fit my mare. I'm expecting to learn how to rawhide a tree this winter and hope to have the first saddle covered with leather by spring.
I guess I need to quit wasting time and get at least a blog started. Sorry this post is so long. Any information about the GWT is appreciated on this thread. I'm learning a bit about the AZ portion, but my knowledge of the rest is pretty scant. My buddy is supposed to be researching the Utah portion, but neither of know anything about the trail north of that.