Ride the divide: packhorses and predictions

Wayne’s packhorses fall into line for the day’s travels with no fuss: no tether or ties.  - Photo submitted
Wayne’s packhorses fall into line for the day’s travels with no fuss: no tether or ties.
— image credit: Photo submitted


Come hunters, horse lovers, nature and outdoor enthusiasts. Wildsight presents the awe-inspiring Wayne Sawchuck, well known photographer, ardent conservationist and wilderness guide. Wayne will present Ride the Divide: packhorses and predictions in BC’s Northern Rockies, in Kimberley at Centre 64 on March 3rd at seven pm, and in Cranbrook on March 4th at the College of the Rockies at seven pm. The events are public with admission by donation.

Sawchuck, from the north of British Columbia, grew up working in his family’s logging business. On the off season, he would explore the Rockies and the Boreal forests with his buddies and his horses, and document his experiences.

These days he leads wilderness expeditions on horseback, into the Muskwa-Kechika. He has, in fact, written a book about the area, Muskwa-Kechika: The Wild Heart of Canada’s Northern Rockies. He has been recognized for his conservation work by the provincial and federal Canadian government, in particular for the establishment of the 6.4 million hectares of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area.

“The Muskwa-Kechika is North America’s most important area for large animals, both for numbers, and for species,” said Sawchuck. “This place of spectacular beauty faces threats from natural gas development, wind power, forestry and mining, yet it remains almost unknown outside of northern BC.”

Sawchuck said that 30 years of horse travel in the Muskwa Kechika convinced him that if it is to be protected in the long term, people need to see its wonders.

Sawchuck’s expeditions provide an opportunity for people to do just that. Kootenay local and well-known author and adventurer, Bruce Kirkby, has joined Wayne on one of what he calls his “participatory” trips.

“To see Wayne Sawchuck swing a leg over his horse, sitting askew upon the saddle as his keen eyes scan the towering Muskwa Kechika mountainsides, to see him clear trails with a hand-polished axe or decipher a maze of animal tracks upon the forest’s mossy floor, to see him shoe a horse on the banks of a gin-clear creek or casually toss a pack cinch and secure a diamond hitch...this is to see a man entirely in his element, at one with his environment – a rare and moving privilege indeed,” said Kirkby.

Check out more details for this and other Wildsight events at www.wildsight.ca or call Helen Sander at 250 427-2535 ext 222.

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