One of my favorite things to do while on vacation – or at home, come to think of it - is to get up fairly early and go out for a horseback ride. As luck would have it, Pyramid Riding Stables was just 5 minutes from where we were staying outside Jasper and offered 1-, 2-, or 3-hour rides. We’d been plagued with a series of rainy days while in Canada, but when I learned that the following day was forecast to be sunny, I made sure to get up early so that I could call the stables at 7:30am and make arrangements for my husband and I to do a 2-hour ride at 9am.
The tidy stable was set among tall pines not far from Patricia Lake. Behind a rail fence and Western-style gate, the stable yard bustled with activity as the hired help carried out the morning chores. We stepped into the office, signed a waiver, paid, and then were led to an area outside near our mounts. By this time, a dozen or so horses had been tacked up and were standing patiently by a rail fence, and I was pleased to see that all the horses looked well cared for. I was even happier to be assigned to a sturdy-looking quarter horse I’d picked out as one of the best-looking of the bunch. At about that time, a large group of school kids had arrived, and it was with some relief that I saw they had signed up for a 1-hour ride and would be going out separately. We seemed to be the only takers for the 9am 2-hour ride.
As we were being helped onto our mounts, our guide, Suzanne, came up and introduced herself. Suzanne hailed from Australia and had not been in Banff long; in fact, she’d arrived just the week before and we were her first 2-hour group. She was spending the summer working in Banff, but was actually making her way around the world, with several scheduled stops such as this, to earn money to continue her trip. Suzanne was a cheery and talkative young woman, and it took little prompting to get her to tell us about her plans for her upcoming year and the adventures she’d had so far. I rather envied her, truth be told – so young and carefree, and with all the world before her.
Our guide (left)
Our horses proceeding at a good-paced walk, we followed Suzanne through thickly-wooded forests and, at one point, along a grassy slope near the edge of a cliff with stunning views of Pyramid Mountain and lake. The ride was a leisurely one, relaxing rather than invigorating. There is always the sensation of seeing the landscape anew from the back of a horse, and by the time we arrived back at the stables, I was wishing we could have just kept on going, through the valleys and to the mountain passes beyond.
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July 20, 2011
August 16, 2005
From journal Jasper: Adventures in Wild Rose Country