During wedding ceremonies, the couple has to state their vows to each other in front of everyone, that for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, they will always be there for each other. As for Pat Marquis and his wife, Rhonda, going on an adventure strengthens their bond and love for each other.
In this engaging memoir, “The Journey,” Pat Marquis excitingly shares his epic journey with his wife as they travel from South to North across the rugged desert and mountainous landscape of the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Adventurous Life of the Couple
The author, Pat Marquis, has a long and storied history of adventurous life out-of-doors whenever and wherever he could, with nearly 60 years of that time involving his equine friend, the horse. He started as a 4-year-old photographed on a Shetland pony in front of his home in San Francisco, then continued on his family’s 20 acres near Santa Rosa, where Pat wandered the fields, hiked hills, climbed trees, and, most importantly, learned to ride horses.
His dad showed Pat the delights of traveling on horseback while hunting in the hills of Northern California. And 15 years later, as Pat and his wife, Rhonda, settled on 10 acres on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, Pat brought “Oklahoma Beth” onto the property to move logs to their cabin site. Thus their love and quest for horseback adventure started and continues to this day.
How Their Unforgettable Journey Started?
“The Journey” tells the story of Rhonda riding across the sweltering desert and mountainous landscape of the Pacific Crest Trail while Pat, as the “Wrangler”, travels the roads towing their living-quarters trailer carrying sustenance for all.
Pat and Rhonda have always been adventurous, including an expedition in 2010 that Rhonda planned and organized to thru-ride, with friends, the 150 mile long Metolius Windigo trail in Central Oregon. After having similar experiences living on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, traveling on horseback on hunting trips for moose and caribou, Rhonda knew she was ready and capable to embark on this journey, “riding the Pacific Crest Trail.”
In the fall of 2014 Rhonda said “I want to ride the Pacific Crest Trail.”, whereupon Pat responded, “460 miles through Oregon, easy-peasy”. Rhonda responded, “No, I want to go from Mexico to Canada!” And thus the challenge was begun. After many months of planning and packing, reading hiker’s experiences and talking with friends about what they had encountered on the PCT, on March 17th of 2015, Rhonda, ‘Horse-n-Around’, and Pat, the ‘Wrangler’, embarked on this epic journey. Pat’s role as Wrangler would find him driving their Dodge truck with the ‘Hilton’ attached. Rhonda would be either on a Chestnut, a Grey, or a Bay, every day riding northwards on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Rhonda’s travels would take her onto some of the West’s most challenging and perilous paths. All the while bringing breathtaking views along the way. Pat would be in the valleys and underbelly of the mountains while ensuring there was enough food, water, and fodder for their horses and themselves at each rendezvous location, be it at a road or trail crossing. Rhonda would carry her own camp supplies, horse food, and at times water as she rode and lead a packhorse, all the while searching for the next spot for an overnight stay for her and the horses.
When “America Tonight” host Kate Delaney asked Pat if he was worried about his wife going on an adventure like that. Pat answered, “You know, that’s part of life, we separate all the time, you could get hurt driving to work the next day, so yes I worried about her, and I had those concerns, but I also have a lot of faith in her abilities to cope with most anything, and that was pretty much proven on her trip on the trail. She had several circumstances that took every bit of knowledge and wit and perseverance and courage to get her through it.”
Rhonda rode an average of 15 miles a day, some longer, some shorter, for more than a hundred days. Pat got to ride with her, not only at the very beginning from the Mexican border, but also on the last 4 days on the trail in Washington state. When Kate asked him what it was like, he answered, “Oh, it was sometimes dangerous, although I didn’t go on the most difficult portions as I have the malady of being afraid of heights. When we were out there riding together she said, ‘Just look at the butt of the horse in front of you and don’t look down.’ It is sometimes that treacherous of a trail where slight movements or shifting of weight can re-direct the horse towards a precipitous drop off. I enjoyed it thoroughly, riding with her. We took advantage of this opportunity to be together, knowing we were getting close to the end of our adventure, and it was just a really fun time to be together.
Further in the conversation, Kate asked Pat about his wife’s most difficult day on that journey. Pat recalled, “Well there were several, but one was the day that she was riding and leading a pack horse on the trail above Lake Tahoe, when the pack horse snagged his pack on some brush and then backed off the trail and rolled down the hill. She had to rescue the horse and get him back on his feet, get all the supplies back on him, and then figure out communication with me to say, ‘I’ve got to come off the trail.’ Luckily she had a hiker there that had witnessed all of this and he helped her accomplish what needed to be done. Ten miles and hours later, and back to civilization, we could tend to the horse’s injuries and assess what to do. That was probably the most difficult and painful time for her, as the horse had also trampled her as they came back onto the trail. She separated her collar bone from her sternum, so that she came out riding (and leading) the horse those ten miles while injured herself. We had to take her to the hospital that night.”
A tale of bravery, dedication, and adventure in the American West, this book is perfect for people of any age who enjoy reading adventure stories or are fond of embarking on a great trip. Readers will definitely experience a roller coaster ride of emotions and, at the same time, be inspired to go out of their comfort zone.
Wrapping It Up