Welcome to our ranch near Canada's west coast in Beautiful British Columbia's West Chilcotin mountain region. Where calling the vet means hollering back at the house to bring your kit, new friendships are formed from the back of a horse and true fun for a five year old is getting a machete for Christmas. Where 'cutting the dinks off' has a totally different meaning than what first comes to mind, Muck Boots are a household name, a hand shake still means something and the coffee is always on.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Ranch News and Grandma Dorsey's trip to Vanderhoof, Part One

I really love this time of year.  The hours are long with having more daylight, but the change of pace is wonderful.  We are putting on lots of miles range riding and seeing momma's and babies so fat and sassy is really awesome.  It's fun to remember the slimy little bean that was picked up and carried from the pens to the barn to be warmed up in the hot box.  I couldn't begin to hold him now, let alone pick him up!  Or the tiny wee twins that weighed less than a bag of flour when we helped bring them in to the world, and are now as big and robust and cheeky as the rest.

Cattle on the Lillie Lake Range, Ilgatchuz in the background.  

In other news, we have been working on our "town house", which is a cabin I bought many years ago, right in the town of Anahim Lake.  It has been rented out for about 10 years now, and was in dire need of some love.  We had the logs sanded and have put a nice stain on them.  Eli leveled the building and is now re-doing the foundation.  Did you know he was a stone mason?  I'll be sure to post photos of the rock work when it is done.  We are planning to put it up for sale when the foundation is done, so if anyone is looking for a wee cabin in the wilderness.......  :)

Sunset over the Cless Pocket ranch pastures.  Rainbow Mountains and Anahim Peak.  

Mum is healing really well, and back riding, although still careful.  She is going to another specialist appointment near the end of the month.  
Eve and Laura are off on their trip to the United States.   Perhaps I should have let Immigration know what they were letting loose in their country, but I guess our American friends can handle them.  Maybe....  I can't wait for the stories when they get back.  Those two can hardly manage to buy milk at the grocery store without some sort of epic adventure happening along the way, and it never fails to be entertaining!  
Olivia is hard at working covering for everyone and really settling in to the routine.  Her and mum have almost all the pre-cooking done for the trail rides and we sure enjoy getting the fall-outs from the baking.  Terrible to have to eat the batch that didn't set right, or the broken cookies.....  The sacrifices we have to make!
The boys are really well.  It's hard to believe that school is almost finished for the year and that they will be in Grade 1 and Grade 4 next September!  Times is flying by too quickly.  They spend most of their spare time fishing/playing in the creek, inventing new tricks to give me grey hair on the trampoline or bartering for TV time.    

A truly spectacular photo at one of the ranches my grandparents owned.  This is at the Pelican Creek Ranch, now known as "Trails End".
  Credit to Jim Swift 

So, I promised to follow up from the last post, where I started the story of Grandma Dorsey's ride to Vanderhoof.  I think I'll send it out in two or three parts.  Enjoy!

I could hardly wait for the meal to be over and as soon as we left the table, I cornered Peggy and Nan.  Peggy would go with me if I left the following morning.  Nan would take Mike to Bella Coola with her.  Dave and Steve were old enough now to stay and help with the round-up, but I still had to make some provision for the baby, Bitzy.  
As soon as the dishes were washed and the children were in bed, I caught my saddle horse and rode six miles to the home of my nearest neighbor.  They were dreadfully alarmed at my late arrival but they agreed to care for my young son and I knew he would have good care.  The stars were fading when I turned my horse loose in the pasture, so I hurried with the necessary preparations for the family.  By the time breakfast was on the table, the wrangler had the horses in the corral and we were ready to go.  Lester was a little shocked at the speedy departure but he made no objection.  After all, he did want the stud from Vanderhoof.  With a few last minute instructions and farewells we were on our way.  
I carried the eight month old baby in front of me in the saddle quite comfortable on a roll made up of his blankets.  he was very fond of riding in this manner.  His clothes were lashed to the pack horse that Peggy was leading.  Alice came out to greet us as we rode up to the old Hudson Bay Post and Bitzy went to his new home quite happily.  We stopped at the Trading Post and loaded up with the provisions that we thought we would  need on our three week trip to Vanderhoof.  The dealers at the Trading Post thought we should reconsider our decision but nevertheless they gave us their blessing, and we left with only a road map to show us the way through the wilderness.  Certainly the trails were not marked on the map, but we could follow the watersheds and eventually arrive at our destination.  
We planned our first stop at the Tallywhacker Ranch near the foot of the Itcha Mountains.  Neither of us had ever been there.  In the day light we could follow the tracks but when it turned dark the tracks were hard to follow.  We bogged down once in a muskeg meadow and were forced to circle that opening.  Then we came across a drift fence and heard the welcome sound of a dog barking.  The insistent barking of the dog saved us from the disgrace of having to camp in the Bryant's pasture the first night out.  Such mistakes are looked upon with disgust by ranchers of the area, and I wanted to be a credit to my family so I thanked the dog for his help.  I gave him three extra pats as I walked by.  Maybe someone else might need his help in the future, and I felt the dog should be encouraged to help bewildered wanderers.
Alfred Bryant and his sister Bunch were running this newly established ranch.  As we approached the doorstep, a lamp was lit and our host and hostess came to greet us.  We rewarded them with the mail and the latest news from the Trading Post.  When we asked for directions on the next stage of our journey they were very simple.  "Just follow Corkscrew Creek and the left hand fork.  When you get over the divide all the water flows into Pan Creek and you can't go wrong."
I had been to Blackwater but never over this trail so the day ahead would be a new experience.  We looked to the Itcha Mountains in the north and followed the course of the mountain creek down its steep mountain path.  The stream course provided natural showers over the rock obstacles on its way to Anahim Lake.  We forded Corskcrew Creek at the Three Crossings and followed the left fork to the source.  There on a little alpine plateau we made our camp.  We pulled a few roots into camp so we could enjoy a good campfire.  The horses were staked and hobbled near by and we were at peace to enjoy our surroundings.  The rocky peaks and crags glowed with color in the flaming sunset.  The horse bells resounded to the rhythmic motion of the feeding horses.  We rolled up in our blankets and enjoyed the silent world until we slept.  
We left early the next morning because we wanted to spend some time with Pan and Betty at the Home Ranch.  At noon we crossed the creek and rode into the yard.  Our arrival was a big surprise.  We delivered the mail and talked over the plans we had made for our trip to Vanderhoof.  
Pan and Betty were quite sure it would be better to stay a week or so with them before returning to Anahim Lake.  
"You can possibly get to Vanderhoof and back in 21 days.  Already you have used up three of the days and you have only come sixty miles.  That leaves four hundred and forty miles yet to be covered."  
"Besides that, we want to stay in Vanderhoof for three days to see what the country looks like."
Peggy thought the situation over.  
"The pack horse can't travel that fast."
"Then we can leave the pack horse here and travel light."
"Good idea.  We'll leave early in the morning and double the distance each day."
"We can't load our horses and travel that far in a day."
We decided to take a few cups of rice, and a can in which to cook it.  For extra clothes, we took a bathing suit.  It was light and would do to wear while we washed our clothes in some lake.  We would sleep in our saddle blankets to cut down the weight of extra blankets.  Pan drew a map for us to follow that would take us all the way to Vanderhoof, and he explained where to find the best horse feed and the best river crossings. "I better draw that map on lightweight paper to match the rest of this pony express outfit." 
Betty cooked a big breakfast.  "Eat plenty, rice might get a little tiresome before you reach Vanderhoof."    

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Punky for all your wonderful stories and updates. We are both enjoying them very much. Soon you must write a book with all this material and your great gift with words. Maybe reading all your books by flashlight at the old 6 mile house began your story telling. Love from Helen and Bob