Friday, August 24, 2012

Horses! Day 1

We'd already posted about heading to Bear Corner Breakfast and Bale. Now here are day-by-day posts on the 4 days riding in Yoho National Park. We quickly learned that this was an "exploratory trip." With the rain this spring and summer in B.C. Al's normal trail for a multi-day excursion was washed out; only the first 17 km are passable by car leaving us 33 km short of the trail head. Al needed another option for us.
Inga on ride in - took about 4 hours total due to all the
trail clearning required. I was on Jordi (Jordan), a great
horse for me.

Jan's riding in on Peach. The other days
she was on Bo. All fine horses with  varying
degrees of liking / dis-liking mad-made
structures like bridges.

Being a former warden, he made some calls and got a backcountry permit for our whole team, 4 people, 6 horses, including grazing permits in Yoho National Park. Having already hiked to Lake O'Hara in Yoho we were excited to experience some of the less trodden paths.
The horses were tied to trees for saddling/ un-saddling.
Other than that they had free reign in the meadow.

Our excursion was a little inauspicious as we drove in thunder and rain to our trailhead at Ottertail Trail,  located a few kilometres before Field, B.C., and the Lake O'Hara trailhead/road. By the time the 6 horses were saddled and packed and we got going, the rain had subsided and the weather began to clear.

At camp. Make-shift saddle storage.
We rode in 15 km. Al and Dave, our guides, smartly brougth both an axe and a Stihl saw. There was quite a bit of blow down to clear. This trail is an old fire road. We learned that the National Park Service was initially focussed on fire fighting and prevention, hence this infrastructure. Today they use helicopters to fight fires, making fire roads obsolete.

Even though the fire road is being reclaimed by nature, it still made for a relatively easy horse trail. This being the first day in the saddle and just getting to know the horses that was great.

Our team on the meadow. Al actually built the coral you
can see in the background back in his warden days.
To keep the horses close, all we needed
to do was to put 2 of them into the coral. The
others would stick close by. A rope across the path
did the rest.
We set up camp in the designated backcountry camping area near the Park Warden cabin. Around the cabin is a small meadow where the horses would graze and the camping and cooking/food storage areas were well divided for bear safety reasons.

We had a fine dinner, got the horses settled in and called it an early night.

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