Mary Breckenridge crosses the High Sierra every year with only her horse and two mules for company.
The beauty, the self-reliance, the solitude drive her.
With her horse, Surprise, and mules Dixie and Woody, Mary Breckenridge guides them across Mono Pass on the second day of her trans-Sierra trip.
Taking in the view of Mono Pass
She always leaves in September, when heat still tents the Central Valley but cool mountain breezes stir silvery-green aspen leaves.
Higher up, the nights can be so cold that the water in her coffeepot turns rock-hard. It’s happened. She kept going.
Mary comforts Woody after he was spooked.
Packing and unpacking 300 pounds of gear daily, making and breaking camp, starting her fire from twigs.
Trekking the High Sierra makes her feel thrillingly self-reliant. A true Western woman.
This is my church, says, Breckenridge
Except, now that Mary is 64, and she’s not sure she can do it anymore. Not alone.
For the entire story and video of Mary Breckenridge and her High Sierra Challenge: Los Angeles Times
Photos: Katie Falkenberg