After 5 long days on the road we arrived in Old Entrance – but not before riding by a foul smelling dead and headless moose. Not a pretty site.
But what a view we were awarded during the final 5 kilometers of the day! Right in front of Smokey’s ears sat the Rocky Mountains looking more beautiful than ever glowing under the afternoon sun. Only 70 kilometers East of Jasper National Park, we were in one of the most stunning places on earth — God’s country.
I took in the view and gave thanks. Thanks to my powerful horses. Thanks to my selfless girlfriend Clara. Thanks to Rocky and Marie Aitken for lending us the support vehicle. Thanks to all of the kind souls who have helped us during this final journey. Thanks to the Universe for awarding me this view.
I felt blessed.
Just after 2 pm we arrived in Old Entrance, an old train station turned horsey bed and breakfast. Situated right next to the Athabasca River, the stunning property looks like “Horse Heaven.”
Green grass and bright yellow dandelions danced to the banks of the wide, fast-moving Athabasca river as a herd of about 7 horses, of all colors and sizes, happily grazed unbothered by my presence. There were several black and white pintos, big and strong like a Percheron, and some other smaller animals. They were all beautiful!
“Welcome to Old Entrance,” Mary, the owner of the B&B said from afar, social distancing, when I made it to her house.
Due to the current situation we are living with this pandemic, Clara and I are staying as far away from people as possible. We travel down small roads, high-lining the horses every night and when we arrive in a town, we look for a place to rent a corral and a place to park the motorhome. Before, I would ask a local rancher or farmer for help. Eat dinner with them. Help them work on a fence line. Hug the children before leaving as if I was now a part of the family…. But that’s in the past. In this new world, renting a corral seems like the safest option.
And so I turned Mac and Smokey out in their corral before thanking both for their hard work. After only 13 days we were already 322 kilometers south of Grande Prairie. And we were 2,922 kilometers south of Fairbanks, Alaska — our starting point!
I’m so proud at how far these two majestic animals have come. When I first started working with Smokey last year, he didn’t know how to stop, or walk in a straight line, or stand still while I got on. I could only ride him in the round pen and even that meant “get on and hold on.”
Now Mac and Smokey have become seasoned long-distance travelers. Both have crossed bridges, cities and towns, mountains, rivers and more. And, these two powerful beasts have allowed me to travel double the kilometers I used to ride in a month with my other horses. In previous journeys I would average 350 kilometers a month. On this one I am riding around 660. Their strength is unbelievable.
I love these wild horses!