Update from Emily

Hello! Apologies for the delay in getting these up here! Below are a number of photos from my leg of the journey…
Grasslands National Park


The Canadian Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, was an incredible part of the trip. It was stunning landscape. Land as far as the eye could see, hints of badlands and interesting rocks, and not a person in sight. We had one encounter with quicksand, which was interesting to say the least…

We crossed over the divide in Saskatchewan, which was a stunning view. Like Montana in many ways, southern Saskatchewan is a vast and open landscape, fertile with speckles of communities, families, culture, and history throughout.

On a hot day there was nothing better to camp next to a reservoir to wash up and wash clothes in. Heart was having a rough time with all of the bugs on the way into the campsite, but once we settled in the bugs subsided and the horses had plenty to eat. I was amazed at all of the stunning campsites we encountered…

Montana Spirit got into some burrs while she was roaming around the rodeo grounds in Mankato, and Bernice and I loved how her new-found hair style fit her personality quite well. Part animalistic and primal caveman mixed with a rebellious teenage punk.

The Knox family was an incredible clan. They let us stay on their land, fed us some delicious chili for dinner and a breakfast feast. But above all, they resemble the rural generosity, human curiosity, and the instant friendships that long riding tends to fortunately attract. I now understand more deeply what Bernice feels when she says that she cannot do her rides without the generosity of the people she meets along the way. That is the truth. A large heartfelt thank you to the Knox family and all of the other individuals and families who assisted us along the way!

We were riding along when Josh from Ponteix Hutterite Colony stopped to see what we were doing. He invited us to stop by the Colony when we were able. We stopped in to be greeted by many curious and welcoming people. The women fed us a delicious meal of duck, soup, and wonderful canned pears. They gave us a tour of the colony, which was absolutely fascinating! I had never been to a Hutterite Colony, and was astonished at how efficient, organized, clean, and professional they ran all aspects of the colony; from food production to washing clothes. We were truly appreciative that they took the time (especially on a religious day) to not only give us a tour, but even meet some of the elders and learn about their culture. They sent us away with a huge package of fresh sausage, bread, and other delicious homemade treats.

Ponteix was a lovely community, filled with curious and generous folks. Ponteix is historically a Francophone community with an excellent heritage center which is filled with cultural history to archeological facts and items. It rained quite a bit but we had an excellent camping spot by the river.
All of the communities we stayed in and passed through are facing very similar challenges; decreasing populations, a decrease in youth and increase in the aging population, larger and larger farms and international corporate farming and ranching – small family farms and ranches are disappearing fast, and there is the inner turmoil in many regarding the need for local jobs but a dissatisfaction with the effects of the oil and gas industry in the region. Interesting stuff especially coming from a planning background… but definitely some more focus needs to be had in many western rural communities…

Cafe Central as a lovely coffee shop and eatery (with excellent crepes, if you are ever in town!). They had wonderful owners and fast speed wifi which was very appreciated!

The wonderful Barb and Ed! I was walking to the rodeo grounds in Swift Current to meet up with Bernice, and this incredible couple stopped to see if I needed anything. Never have I met two people with such love and generosity to give. Bernice got caught in the rain, so Barb and Ed let me stay at their place, took me out to dinner, and we shared many stories and laughs. This is an example of how wonderful friendships can strike after only minutes of meeting each other. Words cannot express enough my appreciation for these two incredible human beings.

This was the last of our shared camps, and it was in a corral in the Swift Current Fairgrounds. Bernice said that this was one of the top three fairgrounds she has ever stayed at. We were sheltered from days of rain and had a chance to unpack and repack, keep the horses warm and fed, and enjoy a delicious last dinner. The last photo is one of her chowing down on some minerals and treats, but primarily a photo to highlight just one of the many sponsors. I now have a better understanding of not only the necessity of the generosity of strangers for Bernice to do her rides, but the necessity of the sponsors. From the saddles to the packs, the quality of all of Bernice’s sponsored equipment and supplies are excellent, and must be so in order to maintain given the breadth at which Bernice travels. So lastly, one  final thank you to the sponsors and all of the generous people and new friendships I have made along the ride. And a thank you again to Bernice for opening up her doors to me for a memorable and unique experience!