Column: Mountain high journey and fellowship a humbling paradise

A few months back, a former colleague and roommate got in touch with the suggestion that a few of us should do something.

A few months back, a former colleague and roommate from the BC Legislature got in touch with the suggestion that a few of us who remained friends should do something adventuresome together before some health crisis hits one of us.

Fishing and hiking were the suggestions he made.

I countered with one of my bucket list contents: a pack trip, horseback into the South Chilcotin’s, Graveyard Valley in Big Creek Provincial Park specifically.

We would outfit the ride, having horses and pack gear. We use our horses for cattle handling and we plan to ensure six grandchildren become skilled horse people.

So if some of these prospective “kids’ horses” are good enough for kids, they will be good for us aging folk in the group, some of whom would be having their first and second horseback rides.

We were a party of eight people and 11 horses. This was an opportunity to school some colts as well as some older political warhorses.

I am thankful that two of our sons could make the ride, as I can’t tie a diamond hitch to secure the packs, yet.

The four-year-old grandson who came along doubling with me and his dad came with a carefully prepared delicious menu for us all.

Seven days on the trail, four of them in base camp, provided rest time and side trips into some of the many passes that can be accessed from Graveyard. That is one of the great assets of this area.

A friend who has hiked the world, but now hikes the Chilcotin area, once when I was suggesting some of the well known trails in other parts of the world said with a self assured smile that right here in our backyard are the best ever places.

I feel the same way.

While reminiscing and telling stories around the campfire was wonderful, most of the conversation focused on the here and now, being together in this experience: the absolute beauty of sharing a view from 8,000 feet.

One view in particular was worth the whole trip.

A hike up Dash Hill (some hill at 8,000 feet!) which rises north out of Graveyard gave some of us a perspective on the many trails we had followed on previous trips and wish to follow in the years to come.

A ride and hike in the clouds is not a walk in a rose garden to be sure.  Nature should humble us.  I am in awe of this Earthly paradise.

If ever there was a trip that deserves a second column, this is it. More next week.

David Zirnhelt is a member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association and chair of the advisory committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching program which started at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake this January.

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