Banff is beautiful. We hopped out of bed early because Rob & Staci were scheduled to pick us up at around 7:45am. We all headed towards Lake Louise to begin our scheduled 22 km, 7 hour horseback ride. It was a fabulous day for what turned into a 9 hour ride. In the words of Kevin, our Mountaineering guide (you actually hear about him tomorrow), “we got full value”!
My horse was Wonder. That meant that I was Wonder’s Woman! He & I got along great. Shawn rode Richards & Rob was on Roper. They all seemed to have a good working relationship as well. Majid was Staci’s horse & he was a bit less cooperative at first. During the morning hours, he spent a fair amount of time refusing to step or leap over the trees that fell in the path. However, by afternoon he was a pro! Apparently he is not a fan of Monday mornings!
Wonder was a great horse, he was responsive & I loved his leap over the fallen trees. The other horses would simply step over, but sometimes he decided it was easier to jump. The first one surprised me, but then I looked forward to them!
Our morning ride went well. We wandered through a well marked path up the mountain to a beautiful lunch spot by a lake. During lunch we saw a few snowflakes, but they ended quickly. We crossed some sections that were a bit more challenging than I anticipated for a trail ride. But, the ad did say that you needed to be an intermediate to advanced rider for the trek! We trekked through snow covered ravines that were deep enough to make our horses leap to get out of it. Once I thought Rob was going to be bucked off! We saw a porcupine, 2 small avalanches on the mountains across from us, and a ptarmigan.
We learned that the horses were used in the summer months for trail rides, but in the winter they simply turn them loose. In the spring they use helicopters to locate them, they round them up & bring them back to the stables to work. Our guide said they aren’t difficult to ride after being free for the winter months, which was surprising to me.
After lunch we headed out to 7 Falls. This is where our 7 hour trip turned into something closer to 9. We loved our guide, but she had not been to 7 falls before. We came to an intersection and the signage wasn’t perfectly clear. We headed off into what turned out to be the wrong direction. Our new trail across the boulder field was not only slick, but narrow & at times steep. We didn’t make it far before we were questioning the path. Our guide hopped off her horse & ran ahead to scout. Ultimately we turned around.
The horses slipped, tripped & jumped through the tough terrain. Thankfully we all made it back safely, but 3 of the horses had cuts on their legs. Roper & the guide’s horse were bleeding a bit. They left a blood trail each time we crossed the snow for some time after that segment. Rob’s horse ended up with the deepest cut, but not anything that looked too serious.
Once we were back on the correct path, we took an easy stroll down to the beautiful falls. We tied up the horses & took the short hike down. Our guide stayed back to bandage up Rob’s horse & check out the others for injuries. She felt terrible for the wrong turn, & kept apologizing. It was a bit scary, but we enjoyed it! What a beautiful place!
We only hit rain for about 10 minutes all day, which was much better than the last few days!
Rob was met on the trail by a guide to trade out his horse. He finished the trip on a spunky guy called Copper. Roper got some pain meds for his leg & followed our group back to the stable without a rider.
This ride allowed us to see some beautiful scenery! In 9 hours we only saw 2 other couples hiking the trail. It was a beautiful way to spend our first day relaxing off the bikes! We finished the day with dinner at a local brewery. Success! We finally feel like we are on vacation!