Muskwa-Kechika is an area that encompasses one of the largest wilderness expanses on the North American continent, and supports exceptional wildlife populations providing space for one of the largest predator-prey system in North America. Carnivores in the Muskwa-Kechika such as grizzly and black bears, wolves, wolverine, and lynx prey upon caribou, Stone sheep, bison, mountain goat, moose, elk, and mule and white-tailed deer.

Mayfield Lake offers the perfect escape and the ideal place to experience the Muskwa-Kechika. Located in the heart of British Columbia's Northern Rockies and nestled in the Gataga River Valley, Mayfield Lake is rich in wildlife and wild scenery. Moose and caribou can be viewed from the breakfast table and trips into the alpine provide panoramic vistas untouched by humans.

With the comforts of camp life, Mayfield is a hidden gem far from the demands of modern life. The trip is planned to include day rides to the alpine and the Gataga River Valley, there may also be an opportunity for an overnight pack trip into the Rainbow Range. Featuring a sauna, floating dock, outdoor timber-framed roofed kitchen, tipi, wall tents and tiny treehouse cabin, the camp also includes canoeing, nature walks, hiking, and relaxation next to the pristine lake. Guests can expect to spend roughly half of their trip riding with the rest spent engaging in the many activities that the Mayfield camp offers.

This ride is a great introduction for riders considering taking part in the more rigorous and demanding Northern Rockies Pack Trip which is sold out for 2023 but might open again in 2024, please enquire for more details.

There are no reviews for this holiday at the moment

Mayfield Lake (in the Dune Ze Keyih Provincial Park) offers the perfect escape and the ideal place to experience the Muskwa-Kechika. Located in the heart of BC’s Northern Rockies and nestled in the Gataga River Valley, Mayfield Lake is rich in wildlife and wild scenery.

Moose and caribou can be viewed from the breakfast table and trips into the alpine provide panoramic vistas untouched by humans. With the comforts of camp life, Mayfield is a hidden gem far from the demands of modern life.

The Mayfield Horse Camps are planned to include day rides to the alpine and the Gataga River Valley. Should weather allow, there may also be an opportunity for an overnight pack trip.

Featuring a sauna, floating dock, outdoor timber-framed roofed kitchen, tipi, wall tents and tiny treehouse cabin, the camp also includes canoeing, nature walks, hiking, and relaxation next to the pristine lake.

In an eight-day trip, two of which are flight days (scenic flights in a float plane over the majesty of the MK), a guest can expect to spend roughly half of their trip riding with the rest spent engaging in the many activities that the Mayfield camp offers.

Sample Itinerary (Note: alpine rides are weather dependent):

Day One: Floatplane flight to Mayfield, guest orientation, settling in.

Day Two: Horses are brought in, introductory ride to the Gataga River (approx. 4 hours).

Day Three: Pack trip to Shoulder Mountain (this is approximately a 6-hour ride and includes walking up (and down on return ride) steep sections.

Day Four: Camp Day at Shoulder Mountain exploring the surrounding alpine and ridgetops.

Day Five: Pack trip to Paradise OR Sodel Valleys from Shoulder Mountain (approx. 6 hours).

Day Six: Packtrip back to Mayfield Basecamp (approx. 6 hours).

Day Seven: Camp Day at Mayfield – canoeing, hiking, exploring the boreal forest surroundings.

Day Eight: Floatplane flight back to Muncho Lake.

Transfers

Your host on this trip will meet you on the dock at Mayfield after your float plane flight.
There are a few options for travel, clients can make their own way to Muncho Lake and fly from there, or take a much more convenient option (5.5 hours) which is to fly with Liard Air from the Pitt Meadows Airport, see details below:
The combined price for both trips north and south is a total of $2100 plus 5% GST per person and there is a minimum of 8 pax for both flights. Included in this flight rate would be the transfer of the guests to  Liard Air's Pitt Meadows location from Vancouver (either airport or hotel), flight to Fort Nelson and shuttle to Muncho Lake with meals throughout the day.  Below is a sample flights schedule where guests could be brought up from Vancouver, into Mayfield Lake the same day and the return guests could be sent down on the same flight, thereby preventing empty flight legs. Please see a sample flight schedule below:

Departure Pitt Meadows 7am

Arrival Fort Nelson 10am

Arrival Muncho 1pm

Arrival Mayfield 3pm

Departure Mayfield 3:45pm

Arrival Muncho 4:45pm

Departure Muncho 5:00pm

Arrival Fort Nelson 8pm

Arrival Vancovuer 11am

For more details, please speak to a travel advisor. 

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

Sawchuk's string is made up of proven, trusty mounts of draft/quarter horse crosses. There are 25 horses used for these trips, 12 of them are used for riding and the others are pack horses. All of the saddle and pack horses are members of a packstring and are kept together year round. Each year, a handful of new horses are introduced. The horses are between 14hh and 17hh and are calm and friendly. The horses are ridden in Western tack and are neck-rein trained. The terrain out on the range varies from grassy plateaus to mountainous, this will dictate the pacing of the rides and most are usually done at a walk and trot. There will also be times when riders are asked to dismount and walk beside, leading their horse.


Rider requirements

Participants share in all camp and horse activities such as saddling, grooming, fire lighting, cooking and horse wrangling.
Horse travel in the wilderness is rigorous and participants must be able to hike up and down steep trails, mount and dismount repeatedly and assist with camp and horse activities according to their abilities.
Gaits used on the trail is mainly walking with some trotting so experience with horses is useful, but not necessary. A good level of fitness is mandatory.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 230 lb/105 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is at the Mayfield Horse Camp, featuring a sauna, floating dock, outdoor timber-framed roofed kitchen, tipi, wall tents and tiny treehouse cabin, the camp also includes canoeing, nature walks, hiking, and relaxation next to the pristine Mayfield Lake. Your hosts will supply all cooking equipment, dishes and dish soap, camp shelter, horses and horse gear.

Foodpacks are prepared for riders by the guide and team i.e. food is purchased to fit your requirements. As such most dietary requirements can be accommodated.



Keeping in mind this is a camping trip you will be asked what you like to eat for breakfast, lunches, dinner and snacks. These items will be purchased for you and put into your food pack. Be as specific as possible when telling us what you would like to eat and bear in mind this is a camping trip. So if you say eggs for breakfast expect dehydrated eggs. Riders should expect rice, pasta, potatoes and other dried foods that keep.



Dietary requirements can be catered for with advance notice. Participants must bring their own drinks as required. If you are a coffee drinker, the host will provide 1 pound per week, ground for the coffee press (supplied). Tea and cocoa can also be requested. The water in the northern rockies is drinkable so there's lots of fresh water available.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

Dependent on your country, Passport and Visa requirements can change from regularly depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

Visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa.

To visit Canada, you will need to meet some basic requirements, such as:
• have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
• be in good health,
• have no criminal or immigration-related convictions,
• convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country,
• convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit, and
• have enough money for your stay. (The amount of money you will need can vary. It depends on things such as how long you will stay, and whether you will stay in a hotel, or with friends or relatives.)

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/canada

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Canada.html

Climate Summary

The Northern Rockies get all kinds of weather, often in the same day. In June and July the days are long, with daytime highs reaching 20-30C. In September it can cool off to -5C at night, with snow during the day. Depending on the season, it can be a little cooler in the mornings and evenings, so it is good to bring a variety of clothing to cover all eventualities.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

The cost of medical treatment can be very expensive in Canada. For emergency health care you can go to a hospital’s emergency room or to a large number of walk-in clinics where an appointment is not required beforehand.

Giardiasis is present so do not drink water from streams. Tap water is safe to drink.

Rabies is endemic in Canada, do not approach stray dogs.

Lyme disease can be a risk in wooded regions; it is a rare tick borne disease.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Canada and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Electricity

In Canada the supply voltage is 120V. If the appliance or its power supply are not dual voltage rated, the single voltage appliance will have to be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly (unless the appliance operates at 120V).

Film and Camera Equipment

A small digital camera is recommended for pack trips but please make sure that you have enough batteries to last for the trip as there is no electricity at the base camp or on overnight stops.

Packing List

Fleece/pile/wool sweater or pullover
Down jacket or equivalent
Long underwear tops and bottoms
T-shirts (2 or up to you)
1 short sleeved shirt
3 long sleeved shirts (1 wool, 1 synthetic material like polyester or polypropylene, 1 cotton, is a good mix)
1 durable wool or synthetic long trousers suitable for use as an outer layer
1 jeans or equivalent
1 light trousers
1 pair of shorts (nylon or cotton)
Underwear
Raingear
1 fully waterproof rubber rain jacket and trousers (not a poncho as these are inadequate for riding)
1 fully waterproof rain hat (cowboy hat with raincover works well)
1 pair waterproof gloves/mitts (Gander Brand makes good ones)
1 pair rubber boots e.g. muck boots (these are important)
Hiking boots, waterproofed and broken in, preferably without large lugs that could easily catch in a stirrup
Camp shoes
Lighter liner socks (min. 3 pairs)
Wool socks, thick (min. 3 pairs)
Light backpack for day hikes
Tent
Sleeping bag (rated to -10 to-15C for June-July and -20C for autumn trips)
Insulating pad (Therma-rest or closed-cell foam)
Headlamp (not needed on June/early July trips due to lack of darkness)
½ litre waterbottle
Small thermos for those who want coffee or tea
Binoculars
Camera and additional batteries
A leatherman or pliers multi-tool is not essential, but can be very handy
Lighter for starting a fire
Glasses or contact lenses as needed
Personal hygiene products
Lip balm with sunscreen
Emergency whistle
Insect repellent
Snacks/munchies you can’t do without
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Any necessary medication
Toilet paper, 1 roll per week

Everything will go into the panniers on the pack horses. It is essential to pack items in plastic or dry bags One big waterproof bag doesn’t work well. Either lots of gallon and 5 gallon zip locked bags and plastic garbage bags or a combination of this and small dry bags. A small dry bag for your sleeping bag, and a few other smaller dry bags for miscellaneous clothes, certainly for all electronics that can be easily manipulated in the boxes works well. Even things like sundries you don't want drenched in the boxes needs to be bagged.

Your hosts will supply all cooking equipment, mugs, dishes, camp shelter, first aid supplies, horses and horse gear. No need to bring extra dishes or silverware. Please read the Accommodation and Meals section on our website and let us know what you would like to eat in as much detail as possible so the correct meal packs can be prepared for you to take on the expedition.

Finally, some feedback from a previous rider:
After day 1 I never wore my Ariat endurance boots. They were sopped. Waterproof Ariats mean nothing when the water is almost up to you knees!. High rubber boots with good soles for walking (I bought Ariat hunting (camo) boots at a greatly discounted price) were PERFECT!!! What a great tread they had (and we needed that for walking) but they also rode well. There were multiple water crossings every day, lots of muck and mire and low boots just don’t make it. One person had gaters and this was a suitable alternative but they were still, in my estimation, inadequate to fast moving water. Everyone in the know wore high rubber boots almost all the time. You must be able to walk steep and slippery terrain with whatever water boots you have. They better be comfortable. A good camp shoe is also important, just for the simplify of getting up in the night to go to the bathroom. I though I was smart to bring light weight rubber shoes with holes. They worked OK, but I didn’t realize how often if might be raining or very muddy. I’m not exactly sure what I’d bring in the future.
I lived in 2 layers of merino pants, several long sleeved merino tops. In the future I’d entirely skip jeans or anything cotton. I’d look for a heavier layer of wool pants. I omitted the shorts and would in the future. A pair of light weigh fast drying pants that can be rolled up would serve multiple purposes if it were hot.
I know for the fall trip the riders who have been on many trips REALLY needed sleeping bags rated to -20 to -30C!!!!! Again, I HIGHLY recommend this trip and Wayne. I hope you get to ride this amazing land with him.

Programmes

The Northern Rockies Mayfield Trip is hosted by Wayne Sawchuk, a guide, photographer and conservationist who has been leading horseback expeditions into the Muskwa-Kechika since 1985. On this basecamp trip your guides will be Alex and/or Michelle, each have nearly 15 years of experience on the trail in the Muskwa-Kechika. They are both trained farriers and have extensive First Aid and Search & Rescue training.

This is an 8 day/ 7 night programme with 4 days riding available on set dates in July and August.

Departure Dates

2023: 30 July; 6 August.

Pricing
No single rooms available (on some or all nights). Riders must be prepared to share with someone of the same sex.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20238d/7n4double pp3,349
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20238d/7n4double pp3,895
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20238d/7n4double pp4,209
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20238d/7n4double pp42,169
Recommended Reading

The Penguin History of Canada - Kenneth McNaught. A basic but useful primer on the country's history.

Native Peoples and Cultures of Canada - Allan Macmillan. This provides a historical framework and raises contemporary issues regarding Canada's Native people.

City to City (also published as O Canada!: Travels in an Unknown Country - Jan Morris. This is a collection of essays written after she travelled in Canada from coast to coast.

For a taste of Canadian literature, read Margaret Atwood's Surfacing and Booker-winning The Blind Assassin, Alice Munro's The Moons Of Jupiter short story collection, Michael Ondaatje's In The Skin Of A Lion or Robertson Davies' Fifth Business .


Other Activities

This basecamp trip is usually structured as a mix of riding and camp activities including canoeing, hiking, sauna, wildlife viewing etc, all in a remote wilderness setting.

Wildlife

The Muskwa-Kechika is located in north eastern BC and encompasses 6.4 million hectares (16 million acres) of land with varying levels of conservation, preservation and land use practices. Encompassing large areas of the Northern Rockies and Cassiar mountains, it is named after two great rivers that flow through it: the Muskwa and the Kechika. It has more species in greater abundance than anywhere else on the continent and that makes it of global importance. Guests are likely to spot elk, caribou, stone sheep, moose and even black bears.

Other Information

All floatplane flights depart/return from Liard Air’s facilities located at Northern Rockies Lodge at Muncho Lake.

Other Country Information

People migrating from Asia crossing the Bering Strait first settled the North American continent. They formed a number of tribes that can be distinguished by language: the Algonquian in the eastern sub-arctic and maritime areas spreading into the prairies and plains of the mid-west; the Iriquioian speaking tribes mostly in the St Lawrence Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie; the Salishan, Athabascan and other linguistic groups lived along the rivers and coastline of British Columbia. Small, isolated Inuit bands developed a unique culture in the harsh environment of the Arctic.

John Cabot, a Venetian working in the service of the English sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. This and later explorations formed the basis of the English claim to Canada. The Frenchman Jacques Cartier undertook a series of explorations, mainly along the route of the St Lawrence River during the 1530s and 1540s and he claimed the land for France.

It's the edginess between Canada's indigenous, French and British traditions that gives the nation its complex three-dimensional character. Add to this a constant infusion of US culture and a plethora of traditions brought by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society.

Canada is between 3.5 and 8 hours behind GMT depending on where you are in the country. They use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.

The international dialling code is +1.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
On the dock at Mayfield Lake
Transfer:
2023: See 'Sample Itinerary' for suggested transfer details.
Flight Guide:
London to Vancouver return from £750
Riders who booked this ride also considered
Cougar Creek, Canadian Pack Trip
Canada, Wilderness Pack Trips

Pack trips through the Canadian Rockies - the real deal w...Read more >

from $2,559
Riding at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains
USA, Wyoming, Klondike Ranch

Working ranch holiday in Wyoming, USA. Unlimited riding, ...Read more >

from $2,609
Wildlife pack trip in Canada
Canada, Wildlife Research Pack Trips

An immersive nature experience, travelling on horseback t...Read more >

from $2,529