David Zirnhelt rides in the Chilcotin valleys and mountains this summer with his grandson Finn Zirnhelt.

David Zirnhelt rides in the Chilcotin valleys and mountains this summer with his grandson Finn Zirnhelt.

Riding in paradise above Graveyard Valley in the Chilcotin

Last week in this column I said I would write again about one of my lifetime experiences which one hoped would never end.

Last week in this column I said I would write again about one of my lifetime experiences which, when in the middle of it, one hoped would never end.

In the words of my four-year-old (at the time) granddaughter “I would like to stay here forever.” These words were spoken several years ago on one of our family trips into the South Chilcotin.

I got that feeling this year when horse packing for a week into Graveyard Valley in Big Creek Park via Lone Cabin Creek.

This time we avoided some of the wetter trails not wanting to challenge less experienced horses and riders and risking getting bogged down.

There are plenty of trails and routes to explore which thrill in other than dangerous ways.

Some of the trails we took were Paradise Valley, Little Paradise Creek, Graveyard, Little Graveyard, Tosh Creek, Relay Creek, and Dash Hill.

Of particular note in Graveyard Valley is the memorial to the “burying of the hatchet” by the Tsilhqot’in and the St’at’imc (Lillooet) whose warriors are buried there.

Some 140 died in one of the last battles there: a territorial skirmish over hunting, I think.

Not far away are the paradises: Paradise Valley and Little Paradise Creek Valley.

One does feel like being in a special earthly paradise, surrounded by the Creator’s gardens, people, and horses that mean the earth to you!

When travelling up some of the sub alpine and alpine creek valleys, it almost feels like a heavenly gardener has planted an array of plots of the most beautiful flowers ever. Fields of flowers forever it seems.

In these alpine fields are various (to mention a few) sunflowers and buttercups, aster, cushion plants, alpine paintbrushes (some yellow), old man’s whiskers,  pink monkey flowers, fireweed, milk vetches, and many, many more.

So daintily brilliant are the flowers that your eyes are drawn to the ground and the near places taking from the far views of the colourful mountains of red, browns, beige, tans, and black minerals.

Again, on this trip as the others I have written about in this column, seeing other people enjoying the vast landscape is rare.

We saw one other party during our first few hours on the trail.

My bucket list includes more of these trips. In fact, until I have to admit I can’t do it any more, these mountain packtrips will remain a good part of the contents of my bucket.

What I want for myself and those dear to me, I want for others.

To them I say in a phrase popularized in the 60s: “Do it.”

It will rejuvenate you.


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