Thursday, October 1, 2015

2015 Frazer Creek Wildlife Area Ride

After the wildfires of 2015 "settled down" a bit, Julie Johnson, Therese Ohlson, Terry Dixon, and Betty Wagoner started thinking of a place to ride on Labor Day that was close to home and that hadn’t burnt this year. They decided to ride in the Frazer Creek Wildlife Area. The area had burned last year, but the grass is growing tall again and the view looking far down the Methow River from the “upper portion” was beautiful.
(L-R) Betty and Therese
Great views!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 Turkey Trot Breakfast Ride

On August 8th nine riders met at Joe and Carol Hebert’s place at 8:00 am and rode over to the Hebert’s “Headgate” area in Little Bridge Creek. 
Riders heading out for breakfast at Little Bridge Creek
The riders were joined by the folks who preferred to drive up in their vehicles, and even Anita Ellis came all the way from Tunk Valley! The group thoroughly enjoyed Carol’s breakfast of biscuits & gravy, egg casserole, fruit, and the “homegrown muffins” made by Anna Heathman. Dick Heathman was the “coffee hero”. All enjoyed the really good food and company! 

2015 Loup Loup Campout/Ride

During the weekend of July 30—August 1, a group of MVBCH members gathered at our proposed North Summit horse camp to enjoy a few days of summer riding and camping in the cooler mountain air. Ann Port headed up the food part of the ride and reported that a fine time was had by all. 
A few of the riders gathered on Thursday to get settled, and had a great ride on Friday exploring the snowmobile trails. 
They had a group breakfast on Saturday morning of omelets cooked in zip-lock bags. How do you do that? You boil them in water on a propane stove! The “new idea” was quite a hit! After breakfast, everyone headed out on a short ride over by the Loup Loup ski area and followed the ski trails. To everyone’s delight, Virginia Hammer from the Forest Service happened by and took lots of photos of the riders actually using the area, and included all the horse trailers, camping gear, and a few shots of the group having a meal. Virginia said she would show the photos in a presentation as evidence that “Yes, riders are already using and enjoying the area!”.

Repairing the East Fork of the Buttermilk Trail

Work to repair the East Fork of the Buttermilk Trail (EFBT) was arduous at best, but highly successful after teams of Methow Valley Back Country Horsemen put their shovels and lots of pure muscle into the effort. After 5 work parties and over 100 volunteer hours, the 6 1/2 mile trail is now open to riders and pack stock. To achieve this, MVBCH members:
  • cut out 116 trees (a chainsaw could be used for only 32 which were outside the wilderness)
  • built a trail over a washout which was impassable to stock
  • repaired tread in a couple of other areas where there were minor washouts
  • moved, or worked a trail round, some large rocks which were making the trail impassable to stock just below HooDoo pass
  • began to fill some of the holes in the trail in the same rocky area below and at the pass

Pete Stoothoff, Mike McHugh, and Bill Ford start clearing the trail of trees

Monday, August 3, 2015

Beware the Hoary Alyssum!

Hoary Alyssum is a pasture weed that can cause toxic symptoms in horses. It is a member of the mustard family and has a slender tap root capable of deep soil penetration in dry climates. Hoary alyssum is adapted to the temperate continental climate characterized by cold winters and hot, dry summers. It thrives on dry and disturbed ground on limestone and calcareous substrata with poor fertility. It is commonly found growing along roads, and trails, gravelly stream and lake banks, in lawns, farmyards, and vacant lots. It can also be found in pastures and hay fields. Generally initial exposure will cause swelling of the lower limbs, sometimes with fever and/or loss of appetite. In more severe cases, laminitis may develop. In its most severe form, laminitis can result in the loss of the hoof structure and the death of the horse.

Most hoary alyssum toxicity in horses is the result of the plant being baled in hay. Generally, horses will refuse the plant in pasture if other more palatable options are available. However, there have been some horses affected by what appears to have been hoary alyssum poisoning from ingestion of the plant while on pasture. Hoary alyssum has white flowers. Each flower has 4 petals. The petals are deeply divided to form 8 half-petals.

The Twisp River Drainage Trails Work

Turn west off Highway 20 in Twisp on to the Twisp River Road and within 25 miles you can reach a dozen or so trailheads strung along the Twisp River and its tributaries. These give access to some of the most wonderful trails in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest including the Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness.

Last year, during and after the fires, these trails were shut off for four or five weeks. At the beginning of the 2015 season some of them had not been cleared of downfall from the 2013/2014 winter and some were further damaged by the storms that followed the 2014 fires. This has led to considerable challenges for opening the trails in 2015, especially as the Forest Service (FS) Methow Valley Ranger District Trail team has declined in numbers down to four people.

The efforts of volunteers from trail user groups such as MVBCH, Bike Alliance, and Washington Trails Association (WTA) have become increasingly important over the years. This year, if we want to be able to use a trail, we may have to cooperate in clearing and maintaining it. The latest update on these trails, which describes the work done this year to date (mid July 2015) to keep the Twisp River Trail System open to users may give some idea of the size of the task. The system consists of one low level trail and over a dozen back country trails. Click here to review the most recent information in the section titled "Trails in the Twisp River Drainage Update".

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Each year a group of Washington Trails Association (WTA) volunteers comes to our area to work on clearing trails... the hard way... all hand tools. So we wanted to show our appreciation by hosting a dinner for them at Poplar Flat on June 24th. We served a great BBQ of Flat Iron steaks from Thomson's Custom Meats in Twisp, plus lots of our homemade pot luck dishes. Thanks again to all you WTA folks!

2015 Frazer Creek Ride

On May 28th Betty Wagoner was the Trail Boss leader for Cathy Upper, Kathy Bader, Terry Dixon, and Susan Lagsdin. MVBCH members Sally Nelson and Dick Freitas came up from Chelan to join the group for the ride. The Frazer Creek Fish & Wildlife area has a magnificent view of the Methow Valley and Cascade Range, and everyone was looking forward to seeing it. Unfortunately, the excursion was cut short due to the gathering ominous dark clouds accompanied by thunder and lightening. Everyone made it back to their rigs without incident before the rain began, but that afternoon it was those same dark clouds that unloaded their rain on lower Texas Creek, causing it to flood with water and mud. 

2015 Boulder Creek Ride

On Sunday June 7th President Cathy Upper led a group on the (rescheduled) Boulder Creek Ride, going up a steep old “wagon” road to arrive at spectacular vista across the Chewuch River valley. Jill Calvert, Betty Wagoner, Terry Dixon, Kathy Bader, Betty Ruff, Sue Robbins, and Julie Hensley were along on the ride, and Cathy and Terry cut out the old road on the way up. All enjoyed their lunches after arriving high up on the mountainside, and had a beautiful day. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2015 Patterson Mountain/Moccasin Lake Ride

On May 4th Terry Dixon, Jackie Iddings, Julie Johnson, Wayne Cornwall, and new member Anita Ellis (and friend Karen) from Riverside, joined Betty Wagoner for a scenic ride on Patterson Mountain. The day was sunny and clear, and the Balsam Root and Lupine were spectacular in their full-bloom colors. 
Through the Balsam-root and Lupine

2015 Golden Doe Ride

The evening before our May 12th Golden Doe Wildlife Area ride was rainy and chilly, but weather on the 12th, though cloudy and somewhat “drippy”, was comfortable and with no wind. Four riders with rain coats tied on braved the day and rode to a beautiful Balsam Root-covered hillside with wonderful scenery. Mary Pat Bauman, Kay MacCready, Bart Bradshaw—with Betty Wagoner in the lead—rode on through the gorgeous fields of bright yellow flowers and hardly noticed the sun wasn’t shining.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Another Fabulous Spring Ride!

We had a wonderful "Spring Ride" event this year. This was our 31st annual Spring Ride held by our 30-year old MVBCH chapter, so it was a time of celebration as well as good old fashioned fun! We had lots of great photos, so enjoy the view!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Collector's Piece: Stolen Horse Hair Bridle--please help us find it!

Please be on the lookout for a Hitched Horse Hair Bridle that was stolen from Hickman Saddlery in the Post Falls, Idaho shop approximately April 9, 2015. It is a Top Quality Collector Piece made by 'Paul Siebert' at 'Montana State Penitentiary'. If you might have any information on this bridle please contact Hickman Saddlery at 1-888-397-2022. We would appreciate every one that can share this information. Thank You in advance.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Methow Valley chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Washington 30th Anniversary

The 30th anniversary of both the first meeting of the Methow Valley Chapter of BCHW and the Chapter's first Spring Ride fall within a two-week period in 2015 and will be proudly celebrated.

Ken Wilcox reported the formation of the Methow Valley Chapter in the April and May 1985 issues of the Trailhead News:
“Another Chapter of BCH of WA is being formed in the Twisp area as an outcome of the Horsemen-agency meeting held on April 11.  Dave Reynaud, Twisp, is the temporary chairman...
They will hold another meeting on May 9th, 7:30 P.M. at the Twisp Senior Center. This new Chapter will be promoted a little more at the Sun Country Spring Trail Ride at Pateros on April 28...April 28th dawned nice and clear; a beautiful day for the ride...and there were 115 riders out for it...On the ride there were quite a number of riders from the Okanogan Valley who indicated an interest in a chapter in their area...We sure have to thank Betty Wagoner for setting up the ride and getting these horsemen together”

Members of the new Chapter were dedicated, enthusiastic and energetic. They immediately got to work on trails and trail heads, bridges and on developing a new horse camp on the Twisp River at South Creek. In 1986, 150 hours were spent on “construction and politics”. Most of the projects were, and continue to be, in association with the Forest Service, the main land manager in the area.

The horse camp was dedicated in 1988 and the South Creek Bridge, giving access to the trails from the horse camp, was completed in 1989.  Since those early days, voluntary work has continued apace. We have helped to build several other bridges; replacement of the South Creek Bridge was a large undertaking (619 recorded volunteer hours in 2009/10). 
Volunteers who contributed to the South Creek Bridge replacement!

Dedication plaque for the South Creek Bridge replacement
We have also assisted other organizations to pack in equipment and provisions, and taken part in LNT and youth projects.  

Some of our members have managed to keep up with current technology in order to meet the demands of communicating, running the Spring Ride, accounting, and the legal requirements of reporting. Our newsletter “Horse Tales” has developed into an informative and entertaining monthly publication, and a Facebook page, webpage, and blog are regularly updated.

For the last 30 years members have ridden the vast network of trails in the Methow Valley and appreciated the ready access to the Pasayten and Chelan/Sawtooth wilderness areas. Work parties have been interspersed with enjoyable social rides and potlucks. Monthly business meetings are still held in the Twisp Senior Center (now Methow Valley Senior Center), and the 30th Anniversary Spring Ride (31st Ride) will be on April 25th 2015.

And what of the fourth decade? A top priority is completion of another horse camp.  
Design drawing of North Summit Horse Camp
While still in the planning stage (over three years), MVBCH has already committed many volunteer hours and substantial funding to complete a camp at Loup Loup North Summit. Increasing challenges (not specific to MVBCH) include aging membership, reduced funding for trails, unwieldy bureaucracies, increasing demands for recording and reporting.

Hopefully, with good will, increased co-operation with all stake holders and continued enthusiasm, MVBCH can continue contributing to the BCH Mission.

(Thank you to our President Cathy Upper and our Chapter Historian Jan Ford for compiling this history to celebrate our 30th Anniversary!)