Woman rides horse from Mexico to Canada: "It makes life simple, pure, and real"

Amy Christie

While many people get busy following celebrities and looking to social media for likes and popularity, Gillian Larson has chosen to go on a different route.

Instead of trying to get the best selfies in restaurants or clubs, the 30-year-old equestrian is keen on amazing views that keep her grounded.

Larson loves thru-riding, which is about riding long-distance trails and getting to see the wildest parts of a country, and she's been doing it for a decade. Her solo journey has gone over 2,627 miles, and in the process, she's learned more about herself and how to reduce stress and pressure.

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"One of the powerful impacts of thru-riding is how it changes one's perspective about what is valuable and meaningful," Larson shared with The Epoch Times.

For her, riding brought mindfulness, and she feels that it made it easier to focus on simple things.

"When you are on such a journey, everything is focused on the present moment; accomplishing the day's miles, finding a place to camp, getting food and water for the horses, and wrapping it all up in a sleeping bag under the stars," she said.

When she goes on trips like this, nothing else counts except the basic necessities of life. Larson found it very satisfying to successfully get to the end of each day "when you and the horses are camped safely for the night."

While she's out riding, the woman finds an inner balance that feels true and tangible.

"It makes life simple, pure, and real. It also keeps you grounded," Larson added.

And being close to horses and nature takes away the need to keep comparing herself to other people on social media or to get involved in conflicts or get tangled up in trends.

"Everything beyond those immediate elements feels trivial and unimportant. I'm not thinking about social media posts, politics, or the next fashion trend, but about climbing a hill, seeing a tree, or finding a clear running stream," Larson explained.

The trickling streams, the smell of pine trees, and the freshness of pure air surrounding her led her to choose a down-to-earth lifestyle while also earning her livelihood.

She's opened her own business called Gillian Larson Wilderness Horsemanship which guides people looking for adventures to discover the amazing U.S. horse backcountry. She also does colt training and other starting services for horses.

Larson has always chosen the path less traveled as she grew up close to Los Angeles, California. Right after she graduated with a bachelor's in biology, she decided to take a trip she would remember.

"My mother and I had been hiking together, and she mentioned hearing about a woman hiking a trail from Mexico to Canada; we were struggling to do 11 miles to the high Sierra camp where we were staying, but all I heard was 'trail from Mexico to Canada.'"

So, she rode the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Mexico's border to Manning Park, British Columbia, Canada, on a solo trip.

Each day of her trip turned out to be challenging, and Larson needed to keep changing her strategy.

"There are always things preventing one from being on the trail, whether it is closures due to fire, blockages from snowpack, time spent to get to a new trailhead, resting the horses, getting food to resupply the horses on the trail, visits to farriers and vets for care, vehicle breakdowns," she said.

Snow was the most significant obstacle she had to face, though. And it happened 200 miles from the starting point, as she crossed beneath Mt. San Jacinto.

"I was unprepared to understand it; I had lived all my life in southern California and never dealt with snow before. I had no idea how long it took for the snow to melt in the Sierra or Oregon and Washington," Larson recalls.

She carried on to reach the Canadian border, and when she finished the whole trail, she was excited but completely exhausted.

The trek was a strain physically and emotionally, and she knew she had put her horses in difficult situations.

"I had respect for my horses; they got me through terrible moments, trusting me and giving me all their effort. I felt I'd let them down by not giving them better conditions for the work they had to do," Larson said.

During the journey, she bonded with her steeds, Shayla and Takoda.

"Shayla was strong, fast, courageous, and beautiful. When I first got her, she was independent and aloof, but over the years, we came to rely on each other; when we were on trails in the backcountry, we were true partners," Larson shared.

And it was with Shayla that she got to experience one of the most memorable views in America while traversing the Goat Rocks Wilderness located in the Cascades mountain range.

"All of a sudden, the cloud cover dropped, and we rose into a brilliant blue sky, with a clear view of snowcapped Mt. Rainer ahead and Mt. Adams behind. I was thrilled by the sheer beauty, with clouds rolling like waves beneath us and the afternoon sun touching it all with a golden glow. It's one of my favorite moments from my rides, just a feeling of pure joy," she said.

The journey she took changed her view on life, and she doesn't see the world in the same way; her priorities were re-organized, and Larson feels she's gained a lot in her path to a fulfilling life.

"It changed what was important and the way I saw the world. Riding a remote, difficult trail, where life goes at three miles an hour, and each day has a goal of getting to the next campsite safely, simple things like water, food, and a warm bed take on a new meaning. The bond between you and your horse becomes your strongest connection—all this changes you," she concluded about what truly matters and the way life shifts when you get a glimpse into the simple things that make a difference.





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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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