Oregon woman traveling across U.S. on horseback making a stop in eastern Idaho
IDAHO FALLS – An Oregon woman is on a mission to trek across the country on horseback, and she’ll be arriving in eastern Idaho soon.
Sara Westwind tells EastIdahoNews.com she will arrive in Idaho Falls in the next several days.
“A man said it was safer to go through Idaho Falls rather than follow the interstate into Twin Falls. He offered to drive me there, so I’ll be coming to your town,” Westwind says.
Westwind has spent the last 10 years working as an in-home caregiver. She’s seen a lot of people with health problems related to drugs and alcohol, and the purpose of her journey is to encourage people, particularly youth, to abstain from these substances.
“My message to the upcoming generation is if you stay off drugs and (alcohol)…you can pursue any goal you want,” Westwind says. “Traveling on horseback gets people’s attention and makes people smile.”
Preparing for this journey was a massive undertaking. When she left Williams in southwestern Oregon two months ago, she had two pack horses to help carry water, raincoats, sleeping bags, freeze-dried food and other basic necessities.
She’s also packing things for her horses, including 150 yards of electrical fencing, fiberglass fence poles with clips and a 5-pound solar box.
She recently gave away one of her pack horses because it was injured in a corral.
“I’m down to one packhorse and one riding horse,” she says. “Everywhere I go, I drop a little more. My pannier boxes weigh 45 pounds each, and I have to be able to lift those over my head and attach them to the sawbuck (packsaddle). I’m having an extremely difficult time doing it by myself.”
Other challenges she’s encountered include getting “massive blisters” on her feet in areas where she has to walk, due to safety, and getting through areas where there is no water or grazing.
Westwind says the trip is stressful at times, which causes her a lot of anxiety. But she works through it by listening to positive music, expressing gratitude and giving herself a pep talk.
“I’m actually kind of blown away that I’ve pulled all this off,” she says. “I’ve been so scared at times that I’ve woken up in the morning and thrown up…but I try to look for solutions and be open to opportunities.”
She travels no more than 20 miles a day, she says, and people will often stop and give her a ride.
“I was passing a farmer and…he said ‘That road is super dangerous. Let me drive you because I don’t want to see you get hurt,'” Westwind says. “So (Friday) we only did three miles (on horseback) but we traveled 13 miles.”
Westwind crossed the Idaho border last Thursday after traveling 260 miles across Oregon. After arriving in Idaho Falls, her next goal is to make it to Cokeville, Wyoming. She’s hoping to end up in Georgia within the next nine to 10 months.