Travel with us on Horseback through Albertas Kananaskis Country
Day 1 – Heading out & Travel
Planning a trip to Kananaskis on horseback? The plan begins long before you ever loaded a horse. Plans are made months before you leave. This year, Covid restrictions had to be lifted enough that interprovincial travel was acceptable. Reservations had to be made with Parks Canada, horses needed to be trained, conditioned and shod. 2020 was full of challenges for a mountain trip. My back was deteriorating and the clock was ticking. I wasn’t getting any younger. Ralph was anxious to learn the science of backcountry camping with horses. Last year we missed our destination and we wanted to get that sorted out.
Would the stars align this year? Would my back hold out once we got in the back country? We knew we had to try.
I’d done more than my share of mountain packing in the past. I’d taken outfitting courses and hunted with my late husband, so had a pretty good idea of what was necessary and what wasn’t. We were to travel light packing in only what we needed for 3 nights and 5 days. The equipment we needed for the trip, ourselves and the horses had been well learned from past experiences, and that is the best way to learn.
I found a really good set of durable saddle and cantle bags and boy did they hold stuff. Packing saddle bags and pack boxes has always been a bit of a science, but one I thoroughly enjoyed. Most of our backcountry supplies were made to fit into these 6 bags. The bags then had to be carefully weighed and distributed evenly upon the horses. I had to plan and pack for hot weather, snow, food, clothes and horse supplies and make sure they fit in these 6 bags.
We spent the first day travelling. We left early on a Sunday morning and gave ourselves 9 hours to make the journey to Little Elbow Campground west of Bragg Creek on Hwy 66. That would give us lots of time for breaks, resting the horses at brunch and any other delays that were possible.
We had amazing travel weather, clear skies, great roads and very little traffic. As we got closer to Bragg creek and our campground, traffic was hectic coming out of the park, but we were heading in with very units in front or behind us. We learned a long time ago to avoid Friday and Sunday evening travel, and always travel in when folks are coming out of the parks. Kananasis is a very busy summer park and we were in the peak of summer holidays.
The travel time gave me lots of opportunity to reflect on our backcountry needs and exactly what to pack when we would leave the campground for 5 days.