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Craig is the man. Craig at Gilmay RV in Vernon fixed all my trailer ills yesterday. The errant Hi Tie got shipped by Mr Wayde Andrews to Vernon, and Craig installed it, as well as repairing the snapped hinge, solving the bad design problem that has resulted in two broken hinges over the years, souping up my battery, replacing my sticky door lock, and making me a new tube thingy for setting my equalizer bars. I heart Craig.

It was a day off for Pai, who isn’t really at her fittest at the moment and who had worked harder than usual over the past week. We’ve spent three nights at Timber Ridge Trails just out of Lumby, in the north Okanagan near Vernon.

When I pulled in to the camp at Timber Ridge, I threw Pai into a corral so I could immediately start texting photos to Wayde. “OMG. Look at this place!!”

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The campsite at Timber Ridge is, in a word, perfect. You could not possibly imagine a more charming, tidy, organized, well-equipped, welcoming, beautiful spot to camp with your horse. There are pull-in sites, a little bunkie, a shepherd’s hut, and a central area with a cook house and a pavilion with tables, and a big fire pit made out of a crusher cone from the neighbouring gravel pit. I asked the host, Darlene, if she vacuumed her corrals after people left – that’s how clean they were.

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After an hour or so of settling in and hoping the afternoon would cool down a little (it was 30 degrees in the shade), I headed out on Pai for what I intended to be a relaxed, “stretch your legs” ride. Yeah. Not so much. Turns out, for a horse used to only moderately hilly rides, the Timber Ridge trails are somewhat more taxing – they involve loooooong uphills, and looooooong downhills, with a little bit of flat at the top. Pai questioned my judgment. Several times.

Nevertheless, after the workout on the ridge, she got in a few hours of grazing in the gorgeous big field adjacent to the camp, while I spent the evening with Darlene, cooking dinner and jawing around the campfire.

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Darlene suggested a route for me for the next day, which was just exactly perfect – a 3 1/2-4 hour ride, with spectacular views along the way. We started out in the cool of the day and finished in the early afternoon, and Pai was no longer vexed. Our lunch stop was at a lookout over Camel’s Hump Mountain and the snow-capped Monashees in the distance.

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When I got back from my day of trailer-fixing and shopping in town yesterday, the camp I’d had entirely to myself for two nights had morphed into a party. A group of gals from the Sunshine Coast, Langley, and Clearwater had converged a coupla days early for an AQHA Poker Ride happening on the weekend. Bevvies were flowing and the conversation was exactly as snappy as you would imagine it would be when a bunch of smart, passionate, funny ladies talk politics, social justice, horses, farts, and vibrator batteries.

One of the best parts of traveling around, talking to and camping with other horse people, is socializing and hearing stories, be they Michele’s recounting of how, before there were riders with scent bags, the Fraser Valley Hunt used to have a boy runner laying scent for the hounds; or Darlene’s stories of how, from England, she was traveling through Vernon, fell in love, and stayed and stayed; or her stories of how her boys would come home from school on Friday, before she was even home from work, and head off with their fishing rods and tents on their ATVs, and not be seen until Sunday night, in time to get to bed for school the next day; or the gal at the tack shop’s tale of her friend who rode the Pacific Crest Trail, alone, unassisted – twice.

Camp and trail notes for horsey folk:

The camp is, in a word, perfect. I think I counted 14 corrals, and there are maybe 10 pull-in sites. There’s a central group of pavilions, with skookum picnic tables and a cooking area. Darlene has all her bases covered – if you forgot something, she’s got it. There are camp chairs, birch log side tables/footrests around the crusher cone fire pit, LED lanterns everywhere… There are fresh herbs growing by the cookhouse. There’s an outdoor shower with on-demand propane hot water. The place is eat-off-the-floor pristine – I was paranoid that my camp housekeeping skills would not measure up (through no fault of Darlene’s – she is utterly laid-back. I’ve got insecurity issues.)

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There’s a big rolling field adjacent to the camp that the horses can graze in. If your horse disappears, as mine did, Darlene will cruise you around in her little mini truck thingy to find your beast.

Oh, and did I mention she’s got a shooter bar in the woods?

The trails are on a mountain (hill/mountain – it’s all relative). So they go up, and up, and up, and endlessly up, and then they come down, and down, and down, and down. There are fantastic views all along the way. The footing is 99% good, and where it’s not, the trail maps note alternative routes. Trails are really, really well-makred – you’d have to really try if you wanted to get lost.

Go there.

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