The experience was on my second horse pack trip into the back-country with Chilcotin Holidays. I would like to try to describe a few of the many vivid memories. When I go on a Horse Pack Trip, I look for three things: untouched wildernesses, the animals, flowers, and peace and quiet. I hope these stories convey a glimpse of a little patch of paradise.
We are having a lunch break high on a mountain, far beneath me, I see the Alpine meadows. Below that, stunted trees dwarfed by wind and snow. Lower still, spruce forest. Finally, azure lakes in the trenches between the ranges. The pure air affords a 360 degree view of distant peaks advancing in frozen granite waves. The horses, cinches loosened, wander among us. The tastiest bite of ridge grass must be just where I am sitting. A gentle nudge and deliberate blocking of my view gets me to scoot over. A velvety muzzle cage for my apple core. Below us, a young wolverine bounds across the incline. We watch as he scurries up to a snow patch a disappears. An hour earlier we had crept over a 9,000 foot knife blade of rock to watch a herd of wild sheep. I have to pinch myself. This isn’t a wildlife documentary, I’m really here!
We’ve been riding all day, it’s hot and sunny and we are tired and dusty. “Fifteen more minutes with the promise of a swim?” We follow a sparkling alpine creek threading through narrow valley bottoms. We reach a vast amphitheater, where a drop of liquid turquoise, mirrors vertical mountain walls. It’s icy and pristine surface is a sheet of glass. I slip into that water and float motionless. Above me the granite towers soar up into a cloudless sky. I scan the scarred ridge tops; boulders or wild sheep? A torn tree stump or a Grizzly watching us swim? To me, this is the wildest of wild places. Humans have no dominion here, and I hope it stays that way. When I quietly ride off, I am changed forever.
I’m standing in the corral at the Ranch. I’m surrounded by horses sleeping in the warm sun. There are no breezes. The blue glacier covered peaks that range around me seem to be silent and dreaming too. Equine bodies are scattered in sweet repose. Several sprawl flat out, others doze kneeling, and some lean together. The only sound is breathing, warm hay scented breath coming and going. A few curious noses lean over my shoulder to watch me sketch. One snuffles the paper and checks it’s edibility. This is utterly the most peaceful moment in the world.
Heather, Vancouver. British Columbia