October 24th,2012 Fortine, Montana—-end of the trail, 2000 mile Canadian Ride

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

September19th, 2012 Fernie, British Columbia

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)
 

Bragg Creek, Alberta…august 10th,2012

The question I asked Le Anne and Rick Kroll was, is it to dangerous to risk riding it?
After taking a drive  across the Cochrane area that included a river bridge and a major highway, the trans Canadian hwy, it was indeed the best to haul. So Le Anne and Rick Kroll kindly hooked up their trailer and hauled my tribe safely to the south side of ther Cochrane complex.
I am now heading south thru the Kananaskis Country, via equestrian trails and back roads.
Meeting up with the folks from the NBC’s The Today Show from New York who are coming out to spend two days filming and interviewing late august north of  Pincher Creek.
Many thanks to all of those who have help I say it once  again. I could not do these rides without a great deal of help from so many people, many many thanks.
Happy Trails Bernice Ende

Water Valley, Alberta —august 6th, 2012

Greetings to all that follow the ride, I apologize for the long over due update. I am currently  at the home of Tom Woolings who is graciously helping me thur this part of the country, more traffic more to consider when traveling this close to a large city, Calgary is only 60 miles east of here. I have a lovely campsite on the Little Red Deer River and will be heading out on Wednesday the 8th traveling south along the foot hills of the Canadian Rockies, Kananskis country… should be a beautiful ride.
I am having probably the best ride I have ever had. Canada is delightful and the people are frinedly, gracious and very interested in the ride. And although I have not been able to give many talks I have been treated with such kindness that it has me already thinking of where I shall ride next in Canada
To recap the past month: I left Sheerness and rode east thinking I was going to stay in the Special Area for another month but the mosquito’s were horrendous. I met up with a dear friend Jana Pekaar who had drove all the way from Seattle to meet up with and to bring out supplies. Jana has come out to meet me on every single ride I have been on and usually has her two children with her but they are older now and have better things to do than to run out with Mom to visit. I am glad they were not with her as the mosquito’s drove us nearly mad it was the worst of all situations. Jana fled with her two dogs and I held on for a few more days. Clifford Campbell finally came to my rescue and hauled us back to his place that I had just ridden from. I stayed there at Clifford’s Ranch for a few more days before heading  west for the mountains for higher ground. Rode thur the Handhills which were beautiful then up to Huxley where I stayed with friends of Clifford’s for nearly a week as the temperature had risen and it was much to hot to be riding. From Huxley I rode south to Three Hills then west to Water Valley where I am now staying for 3 days. I must replace some horseshoes and clean tack, resupply food and take a more serious look at the next 200 miles. I will be heading down the Forest Trunk Road that takes me south to Pincher Creek will have to decide which border crossing to take. I am not exactly sure how many miles we have come perhaps 1200, perhaps more. But it has been a wonderful ride. The horses are doing fine and Claire is of course always the star of the show ready and willing to have her photo taken by those that are curious enough to visit with us.
Many thanks to all of you that have helped us along our travels. I simply can not tell you how much I have enjoyed this Canadian ride. Happy Trails until next time.
Bernice Ende, lady long rider
 
 

Sheerness, Alberta July 4th, 2012

The weather wants only to be wet and wild. Alberta’s paririe is glorious, smiles on ranchers and farmers.  1 week lay  over hosted by Clifford Campbell. Horses are well rested, Claire like in Youngstown was welcomed into the house and made her way to the couch and had Clifford feeding her and then she was doing tricks for him and ofcourse she talks and talks and talks, you’d think she had something to say.Hanna celebrates its 100th birthday this year, another busy town, seems to be prosperiing. We head  out  friday heading south by south east for the Cypress Hills… happy trails Bernice Ende