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Return Trip: Day 15

After leaving Les at the hunt venue in Millarville on Sunday, we set off on the ear-popping drive through the Rockies, up and down the 40km/h hairpin curves of the Kicking Horse Pass, and then up and down again through Rogers Pass to Salmon Arm and our camp at Skimikin Lake.

A lunch stop somewhere around Banff or Yoho park or some other deliriously gorgeous place in the Rockies. I lost track.

We’d managed to ride for two days in Sheep River – where I’m told bighorn sheep run rampant and it’s hard not to come nose to nose with one on a visit – without a single sheepy sighting, but just out of Golden, a little flock took advantage of the slowed traffic in a construction zone to make a highway crossing in front of our rig.

Even though the Skimikin Lake campground caretaker, Dorie, was so overrun with equines over the weekend that she ran out of horse corrals, I was the only equestrian camper at the lake Sunday night, so Pai and I had the pick of the corrals. The camp has a very pretty set-up on the shore of wee horseshoe-shaped Skimikin Lake, and the equestrian sites have horse corrals set up right alongside each campsite.

The Scoot was dismayed to learn that this was his last night camping.

“What’s that you say? No more camping? Promise?”

Dorie gave me the lowdown on a nice hour-long ride to a creek for the morning, and Pai and I set off bright and early at 8:30. The hour-long ride only took us 45 minutes, so I carried on up a ridge, hoping, as ever, for a view. The trails are well-marked and the map is accurate, so we had a nice two-hour jaunt through the forest without getting lost. It was a lovely ride to end the trip.

Lake Skimikin.

After packing up camp and hitting the road by a respectable 11 am, we just squeaked in for our ferry reservation by the skin of our teeth, thanks to Scooty having a bad blood sugar day and requiring an emergency pee stop on the high mountain Coquihalla highway, which entailed an exit onto a winding road with no place to turn the trailer around. Excellent.

From the ferry heading back to Vancouver Island. Not such a bad place to come home to.

Pai was excited when we pulled in at her home farm, circling around in the trailer and ready to leap out as soon as I opened the doors, ears pricked and neck arched. Her arrival was apparently the highlight of the day for all the other horses, who galloped and pranced around in the dusk.

It was most excellent to arrive home not only to the lovin’ man, but Princess also found a spotless house, cold beer in the fridge, wine chilling, a loooong hot shower, and a better dinner than anything I’d cooked in the past two weeks.

I spent a good part of today unloading gear and cleaning out the trailer.

It’s hard to believe that this:

All fit in here:

That pile doesn’t include the suitcases, Scooty’s crate and bowls, the other saddle, the latop, the colic and equine medical gear, the dogfood, the dog clothes and meds and towels, the paints and brushes, the guitar, and the other two bags of potatoes that occupied the cab of the truck, nor the other gear (hay, buckets, feed, manure fork, broom, ladder, electric fencing and highline, spare tires, tool box, camp chair, water canister, collapsible wheelbarrow, pelleted bedding, rubber boots and oilskin, box of soaping equipment, and miscellaneous other equipment) that filled the canopy.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up with an urgent visit to the spa to make me respectable for tomorrow’s return to work.

Pai back home with her boyfriend Alf. Who has turned into a blimp after four months off.

So here we are, both back home safe and sound and happy.

Thank you to all the people who put me up for the night, who rode with me on trails, who sent me off with gifts of food and books and all sorts of other things, who cooked for me and told me tales and made me laugh, who taught me about where they live, who looked after my horse and made a fuss over my dog. I have been amazed at the generosity of people who didn’t know me from Adam. Meeting so many great people has been one of the greatest parts of this trip.

Again, what a ride.

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