On his way to summer vacation, Tom encountered bison near Watson Lake. (Tom Roper photo)

On his way to summer vacation, Tom encountered bison near Watson Lake. (Tom Roper photo)

How I and my rented steed spent our summer vacation

Tom recounts his pack horse trip to Toad River and a rude awakening

I don’t know what you did last summer but mine had some fun mixed into it.

I had booked a pack horse trip last year during COVID times and was happy to hear it was a go. All my horses have passed on to the great stable in the sky so I had to rent a horse. I had called the outfitter and yes, he had 100 horses and I could rent one.

So, off I headed for Toad River B.C. right during the heat dome of 2021. Naturally, it was a great trip north and just past Watson Lake on the Alaska Highway I met 73 bison.

What beasts, the size, the beauty, pretty special animals. Got some nice pics at Smith River falls and had a great evening at Liard Hotsprings. Next day was spent at Muncho Lake, a very sweet place to visit and then on to Toad River.

I arrived at Stone Mountain Outfitters with 16 other guests and set up camp. What a beautiful place along the eastern slopes of the Rockies.

Some people had brought their own horses and several of us were renting. We went to pick out our mount and I chose an old grey. Silver was his name.

Unfortunately, to my dilemma, all these mounts were pack horses and were fairly wide. I had plans of being the guide helper. I was going to help set camp and help the cook. I was going to be the go-to cowboy to help some of these old timers but that did not work out as planned.

Something happened and after four hours on that big, oversized Silver I had trouble just getting off the horse. Seems that the spread was pinching my femoral artery and my feet and legs were going to sleep, or so I wanted to believe.

I needed the guide to hold my horse as I attempted to lift that dead leg over the saddle horn and get both of my feet to the ground.

Usually it does take a bit of break-in and I thought things would improve. That was not the case and I, the wannabe guide became one of those old timers that needed help. The days of impressing the cowgirls with my horsemanship had passed.

Oh well, It was an amazing place and I met some pretty neat people. We trailed around 12 miles a day to various beautiful canyons. We had a base camp set up along the MacDonald River and would get back each afternoon with dinner on the camp stove . The weather, of course, was spectacular although it could be considered a little warm at 34 centigrade. The one thing I did miss was a campfire but conditions were too hazardous for that pleasure.

We made it back to the main ranch after six days in the bush. Silver and I had several set tos as we tried to determine who was boss. Pack horses do not like to be left behind and do not take kindly to a rider that wants to wander and take pictures.

Eventually I relented and let him take me even though I preferred to take him. All in all, he was a good horse and got me out of a several jams.

We had our wind up barbecue at the main lodge and said our goodbyes to some really nice folks. This is a holiday I would suggest to everyone but I would recommend, bring your own cayuse.

What did you get up to on your summer vacay? Call 250-877-1806 or email tr.ranch@hotmail.com

Thanks for reading, Tom.

 

Tom's summer pack horse trip took him through several canyons en route to Toad River. (Tom Roper photo)

Tom and rented steed Silver on a pack horse ride to Toad River. (Submitted photo)

Tom and rented steed Silver on a pack horse ride to Toad River. (Submitted photo)

Stunning vistas abounded during Tom’s summer pack horse trip to Toad River. (Tom Roper photo)

Stunning vistas abounded during Tom’s summer pack horse trip to Toad River. (Tom Roper photo)

Making camp during a pack horse trip to Toad River. (Tom Roper photo)

Making camp during a pack horse trip to Toad River. (Tom Roper photo)