High Sierra Challenge: Woman, 64, Takes Annual Trek With Horse And Two Mules

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


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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I give her a lot of credit for doing it. Sounds like a ultimate challenge even for younger women. I hope she continues to challenge the mountains and herself until its not physically possible anymore.

    • I agree with you in all regards. In the video she shows such a keenly felt purpose for these treks.

  2. wow, wow, wow… it makes my French trek look like a piece of gateau. But what scenery, what beauty, what a way to bond with nature and her animals.

    • Hi Martine,
      I’m sure your treks in France are beautiful, as well. I so admire Mary Breckenridge for taking on the Sierra mountains, a beautiful and challenging place. She certainly loves her animals.

  3. Hello Mary, You are one of a kind lady, MY KIND!!!!! I hope and pray that you will not have to give this wonderful trip up, but I know that it can be very dangerous for you and your beloved horse and mules. It is very obvious that you Love them with your whole heart and soul, the way you were comforting Woody. If you take this trip another yr. GOD SPEED!!!!!!! my prayers are with you, be SAFE AND ENJOY, I wished I was riding along!!!!!

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