Saturday, August 28, 2010

Visiting Ella and More Mountains

Friday dawned bright and early with Miss Ella coming to spend the day with us. Her mother had to work and we managed to kidnap her for the day from her daycare so she could spend the day entertaining Meg and us.

Walking Grandma-1

Ella and Meg-1 Two of my favourite girls

After she took Grandma for a walk and spent a little time sharing Megs bed she did a little snuggling. That was Friday a kind of all Ella day.

Saturday we took a spin out the David Thompson highway west of Rocky Mountain House towards Banff National Park. We thought we might be able to find a new place to take our horses too. Not sure if that will happen as it is a little hard to get our outfit into some of the spots but there is some beautiful scenery out that way. Might take a little work to figure out where the trails are in this new country but then that is half the fun. Here is the view from one spot called Preachers Point.

Preachers Point-1 Preachers Point-1-1

On the way we ran through a burn on the east side of the Park boundary and it was already alive with regrowth. I am not sure whether it was a natural burn or a prescribed fire but nevertheless I am sure that Kootenay Plains at the head of the Abraham Lake reservoir is used to fire helping fashion the ecosystem.

The shot below is for Rod and his comment the other day on our small square bales. In our country we bale them the way the market likes them. Bales that are fed to our local livestock are usually the large round bales, but the timothy hay we grow is in demand around the world and it is easier to ship the small square bales. They actually compress them down to about half the size at our local hay plant and then ship them in containers overseas and into the southern states.

Round Bales-1

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Out of the Mountains

We don’t spend all of our time out west in the hills, sometimes we are just hanging out on the farm and watching the world go by. It is haying time here on the Northern Ranges, what with the cool spring we had it is a few weeks later than normal. It looks as if we found a window in the rains though. We got it off without to much moisture affecting it and 80% will go to the hay plant down the road. From there it could end up in Japan feeding some of those Kobi beef cows. We grow timothy hay and although it is great for our horses, the Japanese actually use it for roughage for their cattle and rely on grain for the rest of their nutrition.


What with two balers and a bale wagon it gets done in a hurry.


Along with the hay crop we have a few acres of barley to harvest also but that will be another few weeks until it is ready. The shot below is across the neighbours field to his buildings and also a sunset over those same buildings.



After a few days watching the haying work going on it was time to hit the road again and head for Rocky Mountain House for a visit with Lacey, Clayton and of course Ms. Ella. She is growing like a bad weed and her grandmother says she can walk forever. She has learned a new photo smile since we were here last time.

And here she seems to be saying, “Hey, how do like it when the camera is always pointing at you.”


We are camped at the New Old Town Cabins and RV Park here in Rocky Mountain House. It is only about 1/4 mile from Lace and Clayton’s place and is a pretty nice spot. Our site is quite large and the neighbours appear to be quiet, in fact I don’t even think they are there, maybe they are just weekenders.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Territory and a Little Smoke

Those who subject themselves to my meanderings on a regular basis know that a week or so Brenda and I took a trip south of Calgary looking for new horizons for us and our horses. Now we probably enjoy the new country much more than the horses but that is the price they pay for living in the lap of luxury for 6 or 7 months a year.

Wednesday afternoon we hooked up the horse trailer, loaded the ponies and headed south to the Etherington Creek campground. There is really just one great spot in that campground and we got it. It is big enough for the bus and trailer as well as our portable barn that is set up off the side of the horse trailer. It also has great access and about 200 feet of frontage along Etherington Creek.

Etherington Campground-1


Etherington MH-1

Wednesday was a great clear day but after that the smoke from the wildfires in British Columbia started drifting in so most of the photo’s I took are a little hazy. Although the human eye can seem to edit out that haze and enjoy the stunning beauty of the country it is not so easy for the camera to do that, so I will apologize for the quality of the shots you will subjected to. Just remember in my mind they are crystal clear and pretty crisp.

Etherington Horses-1

Here are our mounts ready to hit the trails and see what kind of place this really is. It is a popular spot for snowmobilers in the winter so many of the trails are geared to their needs, old logging roads and seismic trails, in fact way back in early history this is the area where I started my career with Shell some 39 – 40 years ago. Most of these trails are of that vintage as the more recent, by that I mean the last 25 years, the work in this Eastern Slopes area has all been done by helicopter so the trails are almost non-existent and certainly don’t have anywhere near the footprint needed to host snow machines. The ridge behind the horses in the photo above is called Raspberry Ridge and the peak furthest to the left has a Forestry Lookout on top of it. In the photo below you can see that same ridge through the telephoto lens and there is a helicopter perched just in front of the lookout. It appears that there is a plan to decommission this site and move the equipment to a better spot so maybe they are there packing up. Whatever the reason the helicopter was there all day and only made one trip back to base around noon. Pretty expensive moving truck in my estimation.

Etherington Raspberry Ridge-1-1

We took about a 10 mile ride around a trail called the Baril Loop. Nice ride but mostly along those aforementioned trails.

Etherington Brenda and BC Mountains-1 Etherington Mountains-1

Above are a couple of those hazy shots of the mountains and of course one fine crisp shot of Brenda. The border between Alberta and British Columbia runs along the crest of those mountains. The world always looks better between the ears of horse and this time is no different.

Etherington trail-1

Below is a pretty common sight in the high country of western Alberta, we call them Forgetmenots, but they are actually called Harebells.

Etherington Forgetmenot-1

Last night I managed to capture the moon as it was rising between a couple of trees in our campsite.

Etherington Moon-1

Now that made me think about the moon rising back home and its position in the sky was pretty good to get both the moon and our windmill in the same shot. Here it is just before it hits the vane and helps us pump a little water.

Windmill and the Moon-1

I mentioned the smoke from those wildfires earlier, here is one of the side benefits of having the sky full of smoke that our friends to the west of sent our way.

Red Sun-1

Well the sunset on our trip, we came home a little early because Brenda’s horse has a slight limp and we thought she needed a little rest and relaxation as we are off to the Yaha Tinda in 10 days or so to meet cousin Mike back out there. That and the fact that our hay is cut and we wanted to get some put up in the barn before it got to much rain on it. Takes a lot of hay to travel all these trails.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Little Elbow

Today we loaded the horses and headed out to Little Elbow to meet our niece Caron, and her friends, Courtney, Sydney and Elizabeth. They were camped out there and we were going to join them on a day ride in the area.

Little Elbow-1-1

This is an equestrian campground right in the centre of Kananaskis Country. It is a multi-use area so we ran into mountain bikers, hikers and even a few photographers lurking around. It is beautiful country and within an hour of the city of Calgary so on a nice weekend there are a lot of folks out enjoying the scenery.

Little Elbow-3

Here is a shot of the whole group, in the foreground in pink is of course, Brenda, and behind her is Elizabeth and in the far back is Sydney, centre right is Courtney, and over to the far right is our niece Caron. The river we are crossing is a branch of the Elbow which supplies a large percentage of the city of Calgary’s water.

We headed out of the campground and down the Wildhorse Trail, although we didn’t see any wildies on this ride there was certainly a lot of sign around.

Little Elbow-1

This is a look back up the river valley from an opening along our trail towards the campground.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scouting Trip

Today dawned clear and sunny so we thought we should take a look around the mountain country south of us and see if we could find another spot to take our horses for a ride. We have usually gone to the Sandy McNabb Equestrian campground, down that way, but it is being refurbished this year so is not available for overnight stays. We thought while we were at it we would have a look for a place where we could get the bus in so that we can stay a little longer and enjoy all the comforts of our home while we are there.

First we ran down the Mclean Creek road and had a look at the Mesa Butte site, and although the road in from Millarville was good the site was a little small and it was unlikely that we could take a big rig in there, and I am not sure there are enough trails to satisfy our wanderlust for a week or longer stay.

After that we headed on down Highway 22 to Longview. Passing through Longview without buying some of their beef jerky is a major faux pas and we got two bags full to tide us over for part of the trip. Once we had that out of the way we continued on to Indian Graves campground and the trails there look great and we might be able to fit into a couple of their sites so it is a definite possibility. From there we headed over the hump towards the Forestry Trunk Road and back north towards Highwood House.

Indian Graves-1

The shot above is the road into Indian Graves campground and the flowers below are a little farther down the trail.

Indian Graves-1-1

And here is the view back down from the Hump towards Indian Graves.

Indian Graves-2

We did find a site at the Etherington Campground just south of Highwood House that has a few sites the bus could fit into and a lot of old trails that might be interesting. Maybe next week we will head down and give it a whirl.

Tomorrow we are off to join up with Caron and her friends at the Little Elbow Equestrian Campground and have a day ride there.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

You Bet, we’re going back

That’s right, regular readers know that one of our favourite haunts is the Yaha Tinda Ranch, in the west country here in Alberta, and after our STARS ride on the weekend we thought what the heck, we are loaded, got food, diesel, and our horses so a visit to the ranch is in order. We stopped and camped at the Sundre Rodeo Grounds to catch the end of the Super Six team roping and watch Harold get his horse shod for the mountain trails. I am not sure Murray Young, the farrier, is usually working by the headlights but it does make for nice photo’s

Shoes-1 Shoes-2

Monday morning we headed for the west country, the pictures surely tell the story better than this writer so I will let them do most of the talking. These guys were hanging around on a gravel bar along the Red Deer River till we came along the Coal Camp Road and they decided to head back across to the shoreline.

Yaha Tinda-05

After getting a few photo’s of these fellow we were off to the ranch to meet my cousin Mike, and Harold and Diane Baldwin along with new friends Lee Laskosky and Hazel Crowe. This special place has a draw on a lot of folks and they come from far and wide to visit this little piece of heaven here on earth. Mike is down from Valleyview, Harold and Diane from Vermilion, while Lee and Hazel came on over from Viking, Alberta. Sadly for all these folks they are not nearly as close as we are and can’t manage to spend as much time here as they would like.


This photo stolen from Hazel’s email. Left to right, Harold Baldwin, Diane Baldwin, Mike Macnab, JB, Brenda Brown, Hazel Crowe, Lee Laskosky

We got our camp set up and headed out to the Scalp Creek waterslides to watch some young folks slide down those icy chutes, makes me shiver just thinking about it but they were young and probably didn’t even feel the cold. This is shot across Scalp Creek towards Warden’s Rock and Banff National Park in the background.

Yaha for the 11th-7

The next day began with breakfast cooked over an open fire, and just to dispel any rumours that I don’t cook here is evidence to the contrary.

Yaha Tinda-02

Photo by Brenda

Now this isn’t a regular occurrence but once my cousin Mike finishes that grill he is promising I am sure it will be more regular than in the past. And just to prove that this really is Mike behind those shades, look under the grill in the photo below, and “that” is a Macnab trademark being cooked while waiting on breakfast, yep, tube steak, or wieners, to the uninitiated.

Yaha Tinda-01

Our second day at the ranch we took a ride over what we call the High Trail and had our lunch on the shores of Eagle Lake in the James Pass.


While we were at Eagle Lake a young fellow and his horse and dog took a little dip.

Yaha for the 11th-6

When we weren’t out riding we spent some time around the campfire visiting and spinning yarns while enjoying our surroundings. Mike and Lee sit back and tell a few stories.

Yaha Tinda-06


Yaha Tinda-07

The shot above was from beside our campfire.

The Yaha is not only a special place because of its natural beauty it is also the spot Brenda and I chose to share with our friends and family when we got married,


and we revisit it on a regular basis and got Hazel to take the photo below just the other day, back at the same spot with our friends and more relaxing garb.

Yaha for the 11th-1

STARS – Trail Ride and Fundraiser

Those who have been with us for a while will remember we were over in Alliance in June to participate in a Trail Ride and Fundraiser for the STARS organisation. Well we had such a good time and as I said back then we think this is a group worthy of our support so we found another ride fairly close to home. Rumsey is about 80 miles away and we decided we would take the camper and stay the night before so that we were there first thing in the morning and there was no rush to get ready.

The ride was along the Red Deer River just upstream from Drumheller and into the badlands so it was quite picturesque. Not our usual haunts when it comes to riding there were cacti and probably the odd snake in the country but it was a great day, a little cloudy but not cool enough that you needed a jacket. They fed us a super breakfast and we were off to see the country.


Here is a shot of Brenda and Rosie on our lunch break and a shot below of the group winding their way through the valley.

 STARS - Rumsey Ride-3

The Red Deer River in the shot below is the same river that we ride along out west at the Yaha Tinda. It is also the river that runs through the Drumheller area which is home to the Tyrrell Museum.

STARS - Rumsey Ride-1

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Riding with the Young Gun

Miss Ella came for a visit with us while Mom was rafting on the Little Red Deer River. We took a few photo’s, played a little ball.

Ella and Meg-1

And rode some horses.

And of course Grandma had to do a little wagon ride to finish off the day.

Ella's visit-1