On the Ropes - Tom Roper

My many adventures with Rena

Cowpokes and trail rides

Back a few years I moved to Houston.

Of course, I took my horse, Rena. At the time money was tight and I did not have a trailer so we rode the highway. A bit of a trip but all good except the part that sits on the saddle. That got sore.

We boarded at Crocker’s Ranch on Buck Flats road. Fortunately, I was able to get a job at Northwood.

It was a tough year but my horse and I tightened our bond.

I returned to Smithers and had to ride the Walcott/Lawson after a graveyard shift. That was a long haul. I literally crashed at my friend Jan’s place. The next day we had to cross the Telkwa to get on to Tatlow road and then into Smithers.

So I gained a bit of road experience.

While at Northwood I had met a couple of old cowpokes and was able to convince them I could keep up on their annual ride into Starr Basin. I was fortunate to join at 18k on the Telkwa River road.

Yes, Rena and I walked out that stretch. There had been quite a bit of rain and the river was up so the boys could wait for me. After a good sleep, we crossed the Telkwa the next morning. This was in the days before the P.I.R. bridge.

It was a pretty good trek up to the trailhead, about 10k, and then on to Mooseskin Johnnie Lake. The McIntyres had a place on the lake and were the guide outfitters in the area. I wanted to stop to chat but Dan and Alvie were intent on moving along.

We set up camp in Howson Basin, a beautiful spot. We tethered and hobbled the horses and slept out under the stars. The next day we packed up and continued on up the ridge to a blind corner before Needlenose Mt.

Alvie related the story of running into a griz at that spot and his horse turned and jumped off the bank. He stayed on sliding to the bottom. I was hoping that was not in our future. We then passed a Shangri La-style mini valley and continued down into Starr Basin.

The boys had an old rat-infested cabin as their destination. I was in paradise, miles from nowhere with my horse Rena and a couple of sawmill buddies.

Suddenly things took on a change. What was that noise? A helicopter, out here. Hard to believe the Smithers Cross Country ski club picked the same weekend to bring in supplies for their cabin project. Oh well, we still had another great night.

The next day Rena and I packed and headed back up the mountain. Not too far along the trail, we met up with a good size sow black bear. She was sitting down and I started up a conversation as I pulled my old .303 out of my scabbard. One of us has to get off the trail I requested, and after a short staring match, the sow relented.

We picked up the pace to put that incident behind and trailed into Mooseskin and Don and Mary’s cabin around dinnertime. Wasn’t that convenient for me? We had a very pleasant evening and an excellent dinner while listening to many of Don’s guiding tales.

Out the next day to the Telkwa River and back to civilization. Can it get any better for a long weekend in August? You got to love that horse.

Contact me if you have any horse stories or others you would like to share. tr.ranch@hotmail.com 250-877-1806.