It is harvest time for the famous Idaho Russet Potatoes, by means of a very complicated and sophisticated piece of machinery which I could see as I drove past the fields of workers, working with urgency as the weather now bears down on them – on all farmers. This is it, harvest time.
Kalispell, Montana was our first stop as we journeyed south. We had a comfortable camp at the Kalispell Fairgrounds and presented for the local Northwest Montana Back Country Horsemen. I learned for the first time about their 4-H Trail and Packing Class/Club. Following, is information from club president Rick Mathies.
We have just completed our fifth year of doing this with the kids of Flathead County 4-H. We started with just teaching Packing, and have added Trail – getting your horse ready for the trail. We found that many of the horses involved in 4-H have only been used in the arena or on roads, and we all know if they haven’t been on a trail, they can be very dangerous… so that is why we feel they need to work on some basics to get their horse ready to be on a trail.
We also take the kids that can go on a overnight trailhead camp-out at the end of the season. Our Level 4 and 5 kids get to do actual packing projects with our BCH chapter. Last year they did over $35,000.00 in volunteer contributions.
Next we moved south to Missoula and were the guests of Meredith and Dean Hoistad, members of the Missoula Back Country Horseman. Big turnout for the event thanks in part to the nice article and photos done by photographer Ben Allan Smith and veteran journalist Kim Briggeman. One hundred and thirty four people attended! Several people I’d met on past rides and even Smoke Elser was in attendance. Smoke is a legendary packer and the documentary, “3 Miles an Hour”, tells his story. I met Smoke years ago on one of my rides in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The following is from his website. Now, I find THIS man inspiring!! What a gentleman.
Smoke Elser, The Instructor
After graduating from the University of Montana, Smoke spent the next forty-five years as a wilderness outfitter in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and has spent more than 55 years as an instructor in packing, horsemanship, and minimum impact camping. Smoke is past President of the Montana Outfitter & Guides Association, founding member (1974) of the Professional Wilderness Guide’s Association, past President of Back Country Horsemen of Missoula, serves on the Advisory Council of Elders for MWA, and is currently active on the USFS Region I Pack Train Board. He is an instructor at the Nine Mile Wildlands Training Center, Region I, USFS. He has missed only one or two years of traveling in the Bob Marshall Wilderness each and every year for the past 56 years.
It might be noted that he failed miserably at “retirement”.
Smoke is a recognized leader in practicing the art of Alight on the land horse use, designing and building new light-weight horse and packing/camping equipment, and in educating the public in these areas. Well over 5,000 students have taken his classes during the last 55 years and well over that number of guests have experienced his hands-on use of such techniques. He is the co-author of the book, “Packin’ in on Mules and Horses”, a well-known how-to book on packing and horsemanship. Learn more about Smoke in the National Geographic article.
Also, learn more about Smoke in “3 Miles an Hour”, a documentary from MontanaPBS which takes viewers into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. 3 Miles An Hour – A PBS Documentary – Bob Marshall …
Now, a rest stop in Montpelier, Idaho visiting Elaine Zeyer whom I met in 2009 on a 6000-mile ride. Back then, I rode into Soda Springs (north of here). She was there visiting the springs with a friend of hers when I rode up. I had cracked my ribs about a week earlier and looked, I suppose, a bit rough. Well, she helped make arrangements for my stop in Montpelier and then fed me and fed and fed me!!
By Kim Briggeman
Alone across America: Montana long rider shares her stories
We measure our lives in days, weeks and years.
Bernice Ende measures hers in mile markers.
Mile by mile, 10 miles at a time, 30 miles a day in a trot-walk-trot-walk cadence, the former ballet instructor from Trego in northwestern Montana lives with her horses of sturdy Norse heritage.
She’s up to more than 30,000 in 15 years of long rides that have taken her coast to coast (in one long ride) and to two other countries.
“The love and longing of the ride,” Ende said Wednesday. “I’m alone a lot. There I am in the desert with my little fire and the horses next to me with their bells. It’s like: And they wonder why I do this. It’s like it is so magical, it is so transforming. It’s just so … submerged in life.”
Ende was in town for a gig Thursday night with the Back Country Horsemen of Missoula, after a similar presentation in Kalispell on Tuesday for the horsemen’s group there. At 7 p.m. in the Opportunity Resources, Inc., building, 2821 S. Russell St., she’ll show and tell the story of her 8,000-mile ride from Trego to the coast of Maine, to Sedro Woolley, Washington, and back home. The public is welcome with no charge.
It’s a special event for the Missoula Back Country Horsemen. Dean Hoistad, who invited Ende to town, said there are Back Country Horsemen chapters in most states. The first two were formed some 50 years ago, first in Kalispell, then in Missoula by a small group of men that included fabled outfitter Smoke Elser, Hoistad’s neighbor in the Rattlesnake.
The fundamental purpose of Back Country Horsemen, Hoistad said, is to perpetuate the use of horses on public lands.
“For years and years, they volunteered their services to help the Forest Service keep the trails open, and to pack things for the Forest Service workers,” he said. “It went great guns back in the day, but right now it’s kind of a dying thing. But we’re still trying to keep it going.”
The normal monthly meeting was moved to Thursday to fit into Ende’s travel schedule. She’s heading south to New Mexico, not on horseback but with horses in tow, to spend the winter. On the way, she’s stopping in Utah and New Mexico to deliver her message.
Ende’s 8,000-mile, 2½-year ride began in 2014, the 100th anniversary of passage in Montana of women’s right to vote. It was no coincidence.
Her first book, published by Farcountry Press of Helena, was “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback.” The memoir came out last year, won the Independent Book Publishers Association award for best new voice in nonfiction this year and was the inspiration for a documentary coming out next year.
Ende, 65, is working on a second book she said will bear the title “Mothers, Aunts, Suffragists and Lady Long Riders.”
Her longest ride included stops in New York at the homes and gravesites of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage, leaders in the suffragist movement in the late 19th century and early 20th.
“I come from a long line of suffragists, and I know that I ride, I can do this, because of them,” Ende said.
It all started with a bad ending.
A lifelong horse person, Ende was coming to the end of a 30-year teaching career in classic ballet in Trego and of a relationship that was “never going to go anywhere.”
“I said, ‘I’m going to ride and forget about him.’ And I did.”
She’d been married as a young woman and never remarried. Ende had no children, and didn’t know at the time what a long ride was, let alone that there exists a worldwide Long Riders Guild.
She cried the day she headed out of town on a borrowed horse with her dog Claire Dog, “a rare breed of unknown origin,” trotting alongside. For two weeks she didn’t let go of the horse.
“I was a fairly competent horsewoman, but I got blown out of my saddle when I got out there. It was like, what? There’s no more fences? There’s no security net? There’s nothing,’” she said.
For three years, she slept under the stars with no tent. She lay her head on her saddle blanket and under her overturned saddle.
Ende ended up on that first ride in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Then she turned around and rode back — a distance of 2,000 miles. That was in 2005.
In the next two years, she had a ride of 5,000 miles, to Minneapolis, Albuquerque, Death Valley, the Sierra Nevadas, and Mount St. Helen’s in Washington before she headed for home. Ende tucked rides of 1,500, 2,000 and 3,000 miles around a 6,000-miler from 2009 to 2011, in which she circled the West to Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; and Minneapolis.
Three years later she started on the epic 8,000-mile ride, becoming the first person documented to have ridden from coast to coast and back again in one continuous trek.
She started her public speaking by riding into a town around noon and tying up the horses — these days it’s Montana Spirit, a Percheron/Fjord mare, and the smaller but sturdy Liska Pearl, a purebred Fjord mare — in front of the local senior center. There she’d play a couple of tunes on the piano, tell her story and land a free lunch. Often it included enough food for a week on the road.
Despite her life of mostly solitude, Ende is a riveting speaker. She remembers what now seems like a brash statement she made in Red Cloud, Nebraska.
“I said I’m going to ride until it changes me completely, and I’m going to be the best long rider that ever lived,” she said. “I have to laugh about it now, but at the time I was so serious.”
To be the best she learned how to shoe her horses, how to forage, how to make her own clothes and do her own saddle and tack repairs.
Ende thinks a lot about how it all fits into the world that sometimes seems to have gone crazy. Thousands of people ride with her through her website and Facebook posts, many of them chipping in donations to keep her going.
“I know what happens to me out there,” she said. “I’m a magnet for people’s dreams. They’re looking for something. They’re looking for courage, or they’re looking for inspiration. It’s a dream that they’ve always wanted to do, maybe not the horses, but something.
“I’ve had women who did a motorcycle ride because they saw me, or they went and took a trip somewhere because they saw me and talked to me. It’s humbling, and I don’t take it for granted, I really don’t. I feel very committed to it and see that there’s a very seriousness to this, because of the value it offers to so many people.”
Missoulian – Missoula, Montana
Sep 28, 2019
Back Country Horsemen of Missoula is sponsoring an evening with Montana’s own Lady Long Rider, Bernice Ende, at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 3, at Opportunity Resources, Inc., 2821 S. Russell St.
Ende has ridden her horses over 30,000 miles, criss-crossing the U.S., Canada, and parts of Europe. She took her first long ride in 2005 at the age of 51. From 2014 to 2016 she became the first person documented to have ridden from coast to coast and back again in one continuous trek. She has won world acclaim among Long Riders who are recognized masters of long-distance equestrian travel and exploration, gained the respect of hundreds she met along the way and earned membership in the International Guild of Long Riders for her accomplishments. She is the author of “Alone Across America on Horseback, Lady Long Rider,” published in 2018 by Farcountry Press.
The public is welcome to attend her slide presentation on the horse journey of a lifetime.
October schedule of talks
October 1, 7pm
Host: Northwest Montana Chapter of Back Country Horseman
Location: Forest Service Supervisory Office
650 Wolf Pack Way, Kalispell, Montana
Contact: President Rick Mathies – 406 752-2209
October 3, 7pm
Host: Missoula Backcountry Horseman
Location: Opportunity Resource Center Building
2821 S. Russell Street, Missoula Montana
Contact: Dean Hoistad: 406-207-6067
October 10, Noon-1:15
North Logan, Utah
Location: Utah State University Equine Center
3580 South, US-89, Wellsville, UT 84339
Guest Speaker in Equine Business Management Class
Dr. Karl Hoopes, Instructor
Host: Judy Smith, Instructor,
October 11, 6pm & 7:30 pm
Bridgerland Back Country Horsemen Fall Social
Location: North Logan Library
475 E, 2500 N, North Logan, UT
7:30; Guest Speaker in Authors & Illustrators Program
“Riding Into the Unknown: What I learned from 30,000 miles on Horseback” by Montana author and long distance rider, Bernice Ende.
Host: Barbara Middleton, A&I Coordinator,
Cliff Public School
Gila, New Mexico
Lets pause for a sponsor break.
1 & 2…I used this cinch set up on Liska the other day. I am using the Tucker Trail Saddle and Outfitters Supply double cinch and it works SOO incredibly well, offers more stability when I have front and rear bags on. If I were traveling however I would have padded the cinch rings for more comfort.
3. The girls wearing Cashel fly masks making a bee line for Source Micro-nutrients.
4. The new Sikdo saddle pad, I am using with the Tuckers Trail saddle, The famous Sunbody Hat. and the best and safest horseshoe for long distance riding from the Blacksmith Shop.
5. A wonderful summer read, by Sally Wagner – “The Women’s Suffrage Movement” I had not realized until reading this book and another book about Lucy Stone that before the right to vote entered the public domain, women first had to have the right to SPEAK in public…more on that next posting.
(painting by Ima Jean Harrison of beloved Claire Dog)
Thank you so much all of you.
I believe this will be a year of rest after that long book tour. But next year I do hope to reel in two – 500mile rides.
Thank you all of you that stay in touch and who send emails or FB messages or who purchase my book.
October will bring a few more talks as I head south for the winter, right now I am happy to be quietly passing a smoke free summer at my cabin. Happy Trails