Xeni Gwet’in youth and elders will embark Thursday, June 22 on the ninth annual 190 kilometre trek from Nemiah Valley to the Williams Lake Stampede
Started in 2009, the Wagon Trip was initiated by youth workers Jimmy and June Lulua with the assistance of many volunteers of the Xeni Gwet’in Community, said Gailene William.
“Thanks to the efforts of the Xeni Gwet’in Community funds were raised for meals for the attendees, hay for horses, etc. The average amount of participants runs around 90 people.”
The one-way trip will start at Konni Beach in Nemiah Valley.
From Konni Lake Beach the group will travel 50 km to the top of Vedan Creek. On June 23, they plan to travel 20 km to a campsite on the Xeni Road. Saturday, June 24 will see the group arrive at the Big Creek Hall where everyone will enjoy the next day off, with evening activities. On Monday, June 26 the group will ride to Sugarcane Jacks, and the next day to Farwell Canyon. On Wednesday, June 28 they will travel to Meldrum Creek, and arrive in Williams Lake by 5:15 p.m. at the Stampede Grounds on Thursday, June 29.
At every camp there are rules to abide by to ensure the safety of the elders and youth, and curfews are set nightly to ensure proper rest, William said.
“Horses must be cared for — feeding and watering, proper tack, ensure the horse has not incurred any injuries throughout the day’s ride, and horses need to be shod by the horse riders or owners.”
All participants must abide by rules such as: no drugs/alcohol, no violence, no concealed weapons, no electronic devices, etc. They must be ready to leave on time each day to the next camp, and youth cannot leave camp without speaking to a chaperone or a trail boss.
This year the group’s focus is on getting more horseback riders,” William said, noting to enable this process the group is putting on a farrier clinic the weekend of June 17 to have horses shod.
William said the annual trip has many volunteers, down to the committee who helps in planning the trip, first aid attendants, chaperones, trail bosses, etc. that help ensure a successful annual trip.
“We thank you all in advance for all of the hard work, numerous volunteer hours for ensuring that we have a great week on the road to the stampede.”
In advance William thanked the public and logging trucks that will be travelling on the Nemiah Road, Big Creek/Farwell Canyon Road and Highway 20 for slowing down as they pass the group.
“We encourage you not to stop but to drive by slowly to ensure the safety of horse and riders,” she said.
The deadline for registering for the wagon trip is Friday, June 16 at 4:30 p.m.
Members of the public are welcome to join the Facebook page “Xeni Gwet’in Wagon Trip,” if they would like further information.