In late August 2004 Marg and I with Beloeil, Saxso and Spence in tow rolled westward. It felt great to be on the road again with the rig; after all, that's what it's designed for! This time we stayed on the TransCanada highway and therefore missed seeing a couple of friends in Saskatchewan. However, the route was quick, convenient and, for the most part, smooth. The horse trip consisted of four segments: Little Elbow in Kananaskis Country, Stan and Kandy Aylward's in Creston, B.C., the Dennis Ranch along the Oldman River, and Lucasia in the Porcupine Hills.
Little Elbow brought back memories of 1990 when Andy was with us in the same spot. Since that time a roof has been installed over the horse stalls so the boys were comfortable, even in the rain. On Aug. 31st, we rode south to the canyon. I saw it in 1990 but Marg had seen only the pictures. It's a ten hour round trip with very little time for breaks but Marg was impressed with it. It was a wonderful way to celebrate my 60th.
The scenery at this location in the mountains is outstanding but we did manage to get caught in a thunderstorm on the trail to Mt. Romulus. Marg had turned to go back to camp and had lightning five, three and two seconds away. Beloeil, who spooks at nothing, was quivering; Marg's hair was standing up! By the time she got to camp the rain had stopped. Kim Spencer and I kept going and, as fate would have it, missed the worst of the storm.
We rode several times with Kim who is from Edmonton and comes into Little Elbow frequently. The bonus came on the morning when we were supposed to break camp and head for Creston. Kim took me and a few others to see a very pretty, "secret" falls a few kilometers south of camp. It made our arrival in Creston late but it was worth it.
Thunderstorm coming down the Little Elbow valley
I really must make an effort to put more pictures together for Alberta; we've enjoyed several trips over the years.
The Oldman River valley east of the Gap in the Livingstone Range draws us like a magnet and may well be our favourite riding place in Alberta. Our friends, Val and Shelly Dennis invited us to camp on Val's parents' ranch beside Uncle Wilson's homesteading cabin. Val dragged the panels out so the boys had a pen and even some shelter in the old barn. After Val cooked us breakfast in the cabin, Marg and I tagged along with Val and Shelley to bring cattle out of Bigg's valley, across the Oldman and home to the ranch. At the end of the day Vern and Ida had us up to the ranch house for supper with the rest of the crew. We rode in a different direction every day we were there to soak up magnificent views in blustery, wet, cool conditions. Val came out on a couple of evenings to look for deer with his bow and one night fried us a couple of slabs from the biggest puffball I've ever seen. Spence's sore leg got much better with regular soaking in the Oldman River.
An idyllic setting: the Oldman River in the background with the foothills just beyond.
Arranging a time to visit Wayne and Judy Lucas at Lucasia was a challenge. We made it but it was a busy time for Judy as she had a house full of ranch vacation guests.
Flint, their son, took the guests riding each morning and afternoon and invited us along. Unfortunately, a neighbour objects to groups riding through "the canyon" so one of my favourite places was off-limits. Mohamed Cassim, one of the guests, chose to bring his lunch and ride to the west across the Lucas ranch toward the forest reserve with Marg and me one day. He was good company and we had an exhilarating outing. Evenings became a time not just for visiting with Wayne and Judy but with the guests too. It was a good time and we hope Judy had a chance to rest in the days following.
Tom on Saxso & ponying Spence just north of the Oldman River; the Livingstone Range is on the horizon.