As a recurring theme in our ranch’s daily and weekly plans, the idea of sufficient rest and reflection, drive us to do different things.
This season, characterized by a lack of moisture in the summer and a moderately frost-free fall, has allowed us to appreciate the magnificent reddish colours in the Aspen (commonly called poplars, which they aren’t).
Then there is the universally deep red of the rose bush leaves. If one looks down and across the landscape the rich colours can be as moving as the sea of rich red that the maple trees show in the Eastern hardwood forests.
If you have never seen this Eastern phenomenon, give yourself pause once travel is advised (will there ever be a post pandemic?) and ride the rails or fly to spend some time drinking it in. My memories of experiencing this north of Ottawa where we rented an old farm are unforgettable.
So this year we have had exceptional colour and that occasioned a short camping trip to the mid-Chilcotin. The fires that killed so much evergreen forest opened the landscape to the dominance of the bright yellow, orange and red Aspen now dominating the view.
We enjoyed traipsing around the aspen parkland in the south facing hills and wetlands near Alexis Lakes and the Nazko Lakes Protected area. While I have often flown over this area, I have often wondered what it would be like to canoe the route along the chain of lakes and creeks there.
One dominant aspect of this land is that it is open range for cattle. In the Chilcotin, approximately 10 per cent of the landbase is meadow/ wetlands with adjoining grassy grasslands.
Again (this is a theme when I write about the wilderness we have at our beckon and call). We saw no one else walking here, except a few head of cattle.
How wonderful is that! We are so rich.
This little trip to drink in the colours took us to Siwash Bridge over the Chilco River — two km above the confluence of the Chilco and Chilcotin Rivers. Rich in history and archeology and the frequent site of the Tsilhqot’in people’s gathering, the grasslands are beautiful in spite of the dryness and persistent overgrazing of the “wild” horses in the area.
The more subtle yellows and cream colours of the open grasslands have their own beauty which, given some attention, rivals that of the fall orange of the aspens. One can be assured that returning to the fall busyness of home is much more tolerable having taken this timely break.
David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.
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