Do you want to unleash your inner cowboy or cowgirl in Banff National Park?
That’s exactly what I’m going to be doing in July. Considering the fact that I am deathly scared of going faster than a walk when sitting on the back of a horse that I know can smell my fear – it might seem like an odd choice. But when I found out that this year’s rides with the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, a non-profit group that has been in existence for over 90 years, offers rides in an area that hikers would rarely if ever visit, I figured I should seize the opportunity presented to me.
This summer Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies (T.R.C.R.) will be running 10 six day trips. Each trip can take up to 35 people including eight staff members.
Here’s how my trip should shake down.
I’ll meet my fellow wannabe cowboys and cowgirls on a Sunday night in the town of Sundre, about 90 minutes north of Calgary. We’ll have dinner and drinks and break the ice. The next morning we’ll head out for historic Ya-Ha-Tinda Ranch, about 80 kilometers to the west of Sundre. From there we’ll go to our base camp, “Teepee Town”, located on the Red Deer River at historic Scotch Camp.
I understand that the first day will be an educational one – and that’s part of the reason I signed on. My fellow guests I am told, are generally not hard core horseback riders. They like me are out to revel in the Rocky Mountain scenery and unlike my usual backpacking there will be a certain amount of luxury associated with this trip. I’ll enjoy the occasional warm – perhaps even hot shower. I will dine like a queen without having to plan a meal or lift a finger and instead of sleeping on my usual ½ inch foam mattress I will have a pad in a teepee.
Every day will have a rhythm to it.
Get up, eat up, saddle up and ride.
Wash up. Eat up again and then learn how to square dance. Stuart Watkins, the President of T.R.C.R. promises me that if I know how to follow simple directions I should, at the end of just a few days, know about ten square dancing moves. I told him I’d need a drink to get going. He promises me I will have fun and that there have been countless others before me that have had the same fear of dancing – and have come to love it.
Of course I have presented an overly simplified version of what life will be like in teepee town.
Without any WiFi or cell service I will be able to relax – when I’m off the horse. My camera will be put to good use. I know I will enjoy chatting with my fellow guests. Not only will I come away with square dancing moves, I will learn a thing or two about my environment. There will be a guest speaker on one evening; on another I’ll be introduced to cowboy poetry.
And surely by the end of a few days on a horse, I’ll be comfortable riding at a speed greater than a walk.
This is a ride for people of all ages and all abilities. You will be taught what you need to know to safely ride though previous experience is certainly an asset.
I know I’m looking forward to exploring yet another part of our beautiful Canadian Rockies. Will you join me?
I’m ready to unleash my inner cowgirl. Are you?