My partner Dudley and I have been asked many times why we would start a venture this labor intensive in our 60’s instead of putting our feet up by the fire. Upon reflection we realized that there is short answer to this question. Leaving a Legacy. We want to leave behind a legacy for our families, friends and community and we finally have the time to create it. As traditional horseback outfitters , Leaving a Legacy is important when we are currently being pushed from their operating areas by mountain bikes and motorized vehicles. We feel it is important to revisit and preserve a piece of the horseback culture.
Equine contributions to human civilization are unmatched by any other animal. The bond between us is 6000 years old and although horses no longer drive our economy, they are integral to our history, our culture and ultimately how we define ourselves as western Canadians. For many of us they live only in books, films and stories and we want to offer a first hand encounter with a piece of our history to those who would participate. We respect horses and want to foster respect for them in future generations.
Our 4000 hectare tenure sits in a unique area only 45 minutes from Whistler, BC. It encompasses grizzly bear recovery area as well as ungulate ranges and is the perfect setting to showcase past undertakings of human beings and their horses. We continually strive to tap into as much of the historical significance of the area as possible.
Starting on the valley floor and climbing to the alpine, our tenure trails wind through a fascinating collage of physical evidence of habitation by Interior Salish people and non-indigenous settlers. Of particular interest to us are the mining and forestry artifacts and the traditional medicines of the First Nations and Europeans. Identification of local plant life by our guides vibrantly illustrates the medicinal use made of local plants for our guests. Indeed, this entire area continues to be of nutritional, medicinal, spiritual, cultural and recreational importance to all local inhabitants. Because the area was rich in fur bearing animals, hunters and trappers were among the first group of settlers into the area as they followed river and creek beds to tend their trap lines. There are two old trapper cabins on our trails that we like to show folks as we ride along.
Miners panned for gold and burrowed into mountainsides. They regularly packed out 300 pounds of ore per horse to the valley floor where it was loaded on rail cars and shipped to distant smelters. The heavily laden horses left behind a network of trails so firmly compacted that nothing much will grow on them even today. We are slowly reclaiming these old horse trails and a few of our guests have been thrilled to find artifacts such as old horseshoes complete with square nails. We use these trails to visit two abandoned mines in the area including the locally famous ‘Li-lik-hel’, and a recently re-opened mine. Our guests are always speechless when they view for the first time the environmental impact of modern mining as apposed to the old mines.
Logging has impacted the area greatly over the last 40 years. While they are rough and not for the faint of heart, logging roads have been invaluable to us in accessing remote sections of our tenure. Dudley actually built part of the road into this area and it was his company that winter logged a portion of it. Our guests compare these logged over areas with the old growth areas as we move along our trails and bear witness to the impact on the environment that these changes have had on the habits of local populations. Our Guiding Principles: As we develop we have adopted some guiding principles that we adhere to in our operations. These principles come with many new names today, but to us it is just the way we were raised and makes sense to us.
Minimize our footprint:
You will not find permanent buildings in our camps. The camps are comfortable, but can be easily removed to allow Mother Nature to reclaim the land if necessary. Sometimes we have to cut new trails because government agencies do not want us in certain areas, but we try to use existing ones as much a possible.
We confine our riding to the trails to minimize damage to sensitive flora. We pack in food for the horses so that they do not graze on fragile alpine and sub-alpine terrain. We take out what we take in.
Green approach, reduce, reuse and recycle with some examples: Arguably this phrase could have been invented by a back country horseman. Every item on a packhorse had more than one repetitive use. When we built our base camp, all fence rails, uprights, and ridgepoles are salvaged from dead standing or fallen trees. Guests frequently admire and photograph the lacy patterns of destruction left by the pine beetle on our fence poles.
The metal roofing on the cook shed and shower room was salvaged from a home in Whistler as were the cabinets and counters.
Purchase local and organic where possible:
We buy as much of our food as we can directly from Pemberton Valley farmers thus supporting the local economy and ensuring that our guests’ meals are always fresh and tasty.
Even our horses are local and “organic”. Most of them are bred on the Lil’wat Nation reserve where they are allowed to roam freely for the first 2 to 4 years of their lives. After we accustom them to wearing a halter, it takes us at least two years to gentle them into the best mountain horses in the area.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.