RANCH MUSINGS: Holiday on the Churn, by horseback

David Zirnhelt recounts his thoughts on a recent journey with his son and grandson

With not much of a summer break this year, I had the privilege of joining a son and grandson on a horseback pack trip into the Churn Creek Protected Area last weekend.

The Churn Creek runs into the Fraser where the road to the Gang Ranch crosses that mighty muddy river.

We saw and met many hunters in the area, but no other visitors like us. With some exceptions, the whole place was abundant in grass.

The snow was restricted to the peaks around – Black Dome, Red Mountain, and the Marble Range back across on the Fraser west of Clinton.

Driving with a load of horses it is about two hours south of Williams Lake out past Alkali Ranch, Esk’etemc and Dog Creek.

For this time of year, the weather was moderate.

On horseback with flat shoes all round on the horses, one hopes for no snow and ice.

But a wet year it has been and so lots of water was running in the irrigation supply system that feeds the Empire Ranch which is in the middle of the protected area.

It is over twenty years since the protected area was created.

Read More: RANCH MUSINGS: Permaculture in Canada and its commercial viability

It was chosen for protection against major industrial development because of the uniqueness of the natural grasslands: lower, middle and upper. There were some benchmarks (reference measurements) on the vegetation.

Over the decades since ranching was developed in the area, there have been times when the grazing hit the grasslands pretty hard.

Once protected, the area had the cattle population reduced in order to let the land restore itself.

This process has been helped along by periodic burning of the grass which sets back the sagebrush and the encroaching fir trees which threaten to take over unless fire is used as a remedial tool.

The protected area is like a park except that it allows some non-consumptive uses such as grazing and hunting. Vehicular access is limited in order to protect the precious grasslands from disturbance and erosion.

Personally, I like travelling by horseback since the horses watch their feet and I can look all around and I know where my feet are (they are supposed to be in the stirrups).

This was not only to be a break for Dad and Grandpa (me), but an instructive experience for the nine-year-old grandson.

He had the most trusted horse. He is learning about camping and travelling with horses.

Read More: RANCH MUSINGS: Where Love and Business Intersect

The terrain is friendly to horseback beginners yet rewarding to the novices. Wide open spaces inspire.

Waving silver and wheat-coloured grasses create an ocean of moving colour. This time of the year the simple, subtle grey, cream, tan, brown, yellow and red hues paint the landscape.

Three days in this sub-heavenly paradise, removes one from the bustle of the sensory overloaded urban life of small towns. But once removed the return is almost numbing.

“Why couldn’t we just stay?” becomes the question. Indigenous people and settlers before us did just that.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Traffic violators caught and charged by RCMP throughout June

Canim Lake the scene of many, thankfully, false alarms this month

Williams Lake Stampede Association hosting drive-in movie nights

Fresh Air Cinema, FortisBC are providing the movie nights to communities across B.C.

Take a tour back in time at 150 Mile schoolhouse

Built by local residents in 1896, it served as the community’s only school until 1958

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read