Day 16, Saskatchewan Crossing to Banff leg.
Morning arrived clear and crisp, with a fresh blanket of snow on the mountains all around us. The spectacular beauty of the morning helped take the edge off yesterday’s misadventure and our cold, miserable, sleepless night. We fed the horses, then enjoyed a cup of Peter G’s extra-strong, brewed coffee and some hot oatmeal. The group of ATV enthusiasts camped next to us were just getting up, so we visited with them for a bit while the horses finished breakfast.
Around 9:00, Peter and I hit the trail back to our campsite with the horses. Tina stayed behind. She was going to hitch a ride with the ATV’ing crew and meet us back at camp. Our sleep-deprived trail navigation resulted in us taking the wrong ATV trail 3 km and having to backtrack to get on the right trail, adding another 6 km onto our 11 km return trip to camp. In the final tally, between last night and this morning, we travelled 28 unnecessary kilometres. So much for Rodeo & Charlie’s rest day at Pyramid Lake Stables. If they wanted to beat Dixon up last night, they must really want a piece of his roan ass by now!
We arrived at camp shortly after noon. Hooray! Everything was as it’d had been left the night before. Tina arrived with the ATVer’s; we packed up camp and hit the trail. We enjoyed clear, easy to follow trail through the forest, then entered a vast mountain meadow that seemingly stretched on forever. Near the far side of that we discovered a hunter’s base camp where we let the horses graze while we had a hot cup of tea and dinner. Then, we backtracked a bit to a beautiful knoll overlooking the meadow and set up camp.
Once again, we set up separate quarters for Dixon, but this time he wore the bell, hobbles, halter & lead rope, plus Tractive tracking collar, just in case. Once burned, twice shy. With fingers crossed and a little prayer, we crawled into our sleeping bags for a much-needed, good night’s rest.