The horses have already grown fat and lazy. Claire has retired to the couch and I am running around trying to catch up with friends and talks and thank you letters and wrapping up this years 2000 mile Canadian ride. Winter here in the northwest corner of Montana is fast approaching, snow is predicted for this weekend, time for a warm fire, a book and hot tea. Time for reflection. I find this part of the ride, this time of “re-entry” the most difficult. Coming from a life of 4miles an hour to 70 miles an hour, riding in a car, the speed of everything, music, TV, the talking and so much eating, there is just SO MUCH! so much coming and going. The transition has never been easy for me. About this time I am longing for my life “out there” on the trail , with the horses, nomadic , simple, very, very simple.
Today is election day for the United States. Here again I can talk about the difficulty of transitions. Those of us that vote are asking each other, speculating, “which way will the country go?” What changes will we face in the coming years? As one who travels across this country in a very unconventional way. I come into contact with many people who share with me their disappointment and unrest about the direction this country is going. It is easy to throw up hands and shout ” it’s no use” . I wish I could take everyone with me for just a week and you would see a very different America. You would see a country filled with good people who care about their families, their friends and this country. Everyday that I am out there riding I can not help but be reminded of the freedom we so easily take for granted here in America. Let us not lose hope and faith in our ability to change, to make transitions and to find a common good for which we can all be proud of.
This will be my last posting for the year. Thank you cards should be ready in a week until then as I have said many times before…” a hearty thank you to each and everyone whose path I cross, for the help, the interest and the encouragement. I could not have done it without you.
Sincerely, Bernice Ende- long rider
Here is the last part, the “rest of the story” were I left off in Fernie.
MY heart pounded out a missing beat when I heard the words from the border patrol ” I’m sorry mam but you can not come in at this border crossing”.
Before leaving on the Canadian ride I had checked with the Roosville border Officers and was told what I needed in the way of papers and passport to make my return crossing into the United States but what they did not clearly understand was the fact that I was RIDING across the country and would be in Canada for 6 months. I was given the wrong information. I needed a USDA veterinary to check the horses into the country. That gave me two border crossing to choose from. Sweet Grass border crossing( eastern Montana) or the Kingsgate border crossing south of Cranbrook in Idaho. I had 6 days before all of my veterinary papers would expire, the choice was clear I had to haul over to Cranbrook. Between Dr. Hart and Jon Levesque and their quick thinking they managed to get me safely across the U.S. , Canadian border before my veterinary papers expired. Dr. Hart called the Sheerness Veterinary Clinic in Cranbrook made arrangements for me to have the horses vet checked by the Canadian officials . Tom Linfield, Montana’s USDA border vet knew of my rides and was also helpful by calling the USDA vet at the Kingsgate crossing to let him know what was happening. Everything was set. Jon Levesque came over early on September 21st to hook up to Dr. Harts horse trailer. I was up all night getting myself prepared to haul the horses, preparing for “just in case scenario” when I walked out to the barn and there it was …a skunk sitting casually on my packs had tore open the pannier, food was every where, my sleeping bag ripped, stuff hanging out of the saddlebags, what a mess and Claire and I got sprayed!! oh my goodness. I made the terrible mistake of going back into the house and left a smell there Oh dear, it was awful. Poor Jon had his pickup window open all of the way over to Cranbrook and I would not doubt it if he told me his truck still smells because I still smell the odor on some of my gear. I felt so awful, here these men and their families had been helping and what a mess I had made… I don’t know that I will ever be able to thank Jon Levesque and Martin Hart enough they really came to my rescue when I needed it most. Besides the skunk everything went off smoothly. Jon dropped me off at the border and I waited about 3 hours before the USDA vet could see me, after he checked the horses to see that yes indeed they belonged to me and were not diseased in any way. I got into the long line of cars, what a sight that must have been. By this time all of the border patrol officers knew that I was coming back into the U.S. Claire ofcourse being the star of the show, photos and smiles flashing. “Check her license plate”, “hey maybe we should take her into secondary and check for noxious weeds” lots of jokes.
Our 2000 mile Canadian ride reached the end of the trail on Monday, October 22nd when I rode down Theodora Rice’s drive way wearing rain gear and riding in snow and sleet. We made it! Always, always it seems unreal to finish these rides. It is as if it never happened, as if that ribbon of highway stretching out behind you never existed and the whole thing was an elusive dream. But the dirty torn pages of my journal and the words scratched out inside tell me different. The worn heels on my Ariat boots, the unavoidable stain marks and rips embellishing my Trail Max pack gear, the Black Mountain Tucker saddle now softer, more comfortable than ever. No, it was no dream. My Sunbody hat has another hole in it because Hart thought it fit enough to eat. (Or maybe he doesn’t like it) Except for the occasional indoor respites Claire and I slept on Skito saddle pads for 7 months, making the most of some pretty testy weather. My route? I don’t think I followed one step of what I had originally set out to ride. Once into Saskatchewan, Canada I was off and going every which way,simply going to places that people suggested I should see.”Oh don’t go that way” someone would say, maybe a group of men having coffee at the local cafe all standing around looking at my well used map. “that’s no way to go, she ought to go across the National Grasslands, she’s this close”, “sure is pretty, won’t regret it”. OK, off we’d go. Best ride I have ever had, easiest ride. And Canada, Canada Oh my such an enormous country a place of many handshakes and smiles. “Premier long riding country”. The Canadian prairies make our Kansas look tiny. Never have I ridden more beautiful country as thru the “Special Area” (yes that is what it is called) of eastern Alberta. Luscious thick green long stem grasses everywhere. Soft dirt, not gravel, but dirt roads. Roads that could not be driven on when wet but a horse could get by OK. Sparsely dotted with small farms and ranches. One of the wettest years on record, it had the country boasting like a true Garden of Eden. Wonderful ride. Hart, Essie Pearl and Montana Spirit have been turned out on pasture , they have a barn and good hay, salt and grain. This is where Essie Pearl was born and raised. Hart spent last summer here on our 600 mile vacation ride. Montana Spirit, finishing her first ride takes it all in like a seasoned pro. For Claire THIS IS HOME. I have a winterized tent set up in a glorified chicken coop next to the barn. This is no ordinary chicken coop believe me. Theodora is one of those gifted creative types that can create beauty out of any old thing.. I am glad to back and will update you with the details later this week this is to let those of you that have been following along with this ride not to worry, that we have arrived. Ende of the Trail is at the end of this years trail. I will have a pannier full of thank you cards to send out to our northern neighbors. Canada, many, many thanks. This Lady long Rider sends a heart felt thank you to all of the Canadians that kindly helped in one way or another to make this ride possible… Happy Trails your lady long rider Bernice Ende
My goodness I do have some catching up to do. Thank you to those of you that posted something in the Guest Book to let others know that I was still alive and well out there even though I had been so delinquent with updating the website.
We are currently at the home of Francesca and Dr. Martin Hart(DVM) who have been kind enough to let the horses rest in a nice barn free of fly’s and the suns strong heat off their backs, contently eating all the hay they want. I have had a hot hot shower and cleaned off a months worth of dirt from my skin. I have filled my belly with a delicious curry soup that Francesca made. Claire has been welcomed in the house by Ranger and Ollie the two family dogs. I must thank Jon Levesque for helping with all of this. I met Jon and Erin and their family while coming down the Flathead road east of here, nearly 3 weeks ago. They were out camping and saw me ride into the open area next to their campsite on the Flathead River. Jon came walking over with a big smile on his face and said “you can’t expect us not to come over and find out what you are all about when you come riding in packed like you are, with a dog riding a horse! He exclaimed… I was tired. I sat down on my packs that I’d quickly takin off the horses hot backs. They had their heads in tall grass and were lost in contentment as I visited with the Levesque family and friends. I was traveling slow, Hart was tired I could tell we needed to stop but I had so little food. Conservation Officer, Joe Caravetta had stopped earlier and left me what he had remaining in his cooler, but I still had very little food left not enough to stop for 4/5 days we had to keep going. This is the problem with riding the back roads there just isn’t any place to purchase supplies and so I find myself brazenly asking” do you have any food” oh my, talk about “swallow the pride”… Well the Levesque’s unloaded that camper trailer of theirs, they were headed back home after a long weekend of camping and out came the food and I tell you it was like a weight off my shoulders because I was now able to stop and take a good long rest. But then Jon says ” when you get into Fernie call and we will have a place for you to stay and my friend is a Veterinarian, thus how I came to stay here…synchronicity.
So let me recap the last few weeks since I have not posted anything for sometime. Lets see…… Well the ride thru the Kananaskis was nothing short of spectacular. Ragged, grey, monumental rock formations towering over us as we followed Hwy 40, to Highwood. Pat and Peggy Hickey, local ranchers out checking cattle, stopped to visit, brought sandwiches back and we sat at a picnic table and ate lunch together — let the horses take a break.
At gravel road 940, the forestry trunk road I turned south and came upon Bryan Campbell and backhoe operator “Chester” working on a closed road and they not only gave me their lunches, ( Claire had a sandwich also) but they sent me on my way down a back road that was car- less and as pretty and quiet as could be, embellished with mountain views I would never have had the chance to see on the main road that I was riding. I came out at Old Man River and guess who shows up but Bryan Campbell with two cowboys Mike and Henry and a gentleman named Max Kolesnick from Ontario that knew all about the Long Riders Guild, all of these men would come to my aid later in the trip but at that point they were bearing gifts of food, horse oats ,a hot meal from the kitchen of the Forest Service Fire Station up the road several miles, a huge hot turkey dinner oh my gosh!!! Well I stayed there on Old Man River for a few days, re-shod Hart, did some repairs on the tent and horse tack. Rested..ATE. we all ATE. People ask what do you think about all day…food. One gets tired walking and riding 20 miles a day, the packing, unpacking the sleepless nights and long days, makes a person hungry.
I was to meet up with the NBC’s Today Show in a week or so and needed a place to rendezvous with those folks. Which I did on august 28th. Bob Dotson the host of the show was very gracious as were the film and sound crew and Bob’s assistant Amanda, all were professionals, top of the line, went off very well and the airing of this mini documentary will be next week.
Henry, the cowboy I mentioned earlier guided me across Racehorse Creek, to much for old Hart. And then Mike the other cowboy, his girlfriend and Darryl Campbell(Bryon’s brother) met me out near Hwy #3 to haul me thru Crowsnest Pass I hesitated to have them haul me I thought ” oh boys I’ll be fine” I tell you there was no way I could have safely ridden on that hwy no way and they dropped me off on Corbin road, I blew them two big thank you kisses as they drove off…THANK YOU all of you that helped me thru that area and with the filming by NBC. So many people came to my aid but it really just turned out to be a lot of fun- plenty of smiles and handshaking. Thank you to Ken, who manages the Alberta Forestry Fire crew station N.W. of Pincher Creek- for putting up with all of the ruckus, he has his hands full with helicopters and firefighting crews the last thing he needed was a film crew running around. But I do think we all had a good time.
SO there we were after being dropped off north of Corbin, we headed south- the final stretch” we are headed home” I said to the horses and to Claire we are headed home. Not only did Joe Caravetta and the Levesque’s give me food but again I had food a big bag of food delivered by the grader operator Harry Wilehok when we were camped at the Butz Cabin.(where a bear came in and raised holy hell with the horses) Harry stopped to talk on the Flathead road, end of a work day driving home, knew I needed food and early the next morning in the dark and rain comes the road grader and he’s got food, and I was again so grateful because it rained much of that week and I had to stay put and thanks to Harry, Joe and Jon I had food. I was able to take my time and not have to rush those tired horses any more. We have come in looking pretty damn good if I must say so myself. I stopped at Ram Creek Outfitters as owner Steve Leuenberger had invited me in. What a pretty place that was, snuggled in the mountains, log cabins, very remote yet so comfortable. They were busy with American guest and now here was yet another one.. Elk Steak!!! oh my
And so here we are making ready for the final Veterinary work that needs to be done to cross back into the United States. I think this has been the best ride in all of my 8 years of riding, certainly the easiest ride. I have come to know much more about Canada, its government and city locations,the rural communities, it is a huge country a beautiful country not so rush rush like we are in the states. Friendly, generous, interested people. I know that I speak for millions and millions of other Americans when I say “I am grateful that you Canadians are our northern Neighbors”.
We still have another 2 weeks before we shall see Eureka Montana, where I will do the final posting for this years Canadian ride. Happy Trails all of you….What a ride it has been… Sincerely your lady long rider Bernice Ende
(Click on Image to see larger version)