Packhorses
Pack trip in Canada
Sunny day on the trail
A campsite on the route
Dawn on the trail
Dusk in the mountains
Participants on the expedition
 A lake in the mountains
Making camp
Pit stop in the Northern Rockies
A photo opportunity on the trail
Quick pit stop
Riders on the expedition
River crossing
River crossing on horseback
Snow capped Rockies
Snowy mountains
Swimming elk
The packstring
Wildlife on the trail
Wildlife watching

Journey to the Muskwa-Kechika, a sprawling, mountainous region straddling the northern part of British Columbia's Rockies and join a full-on wilderness expedition. This experience is not for the faint-hearted; guests will become an expedition member and share in all camp and trail activities such as saddling horses, fire-lighting, cooking, and horse wrangling. Accommodation is basic camping  where riders supply their own equipment and there are no luxuries. Participants on this pack trip will be rewarded with an unparrelled opportunity to observe the areas wildlife and see first-hand this remote and majestic region of Canada. In 2019, the expedition will leave the Alaska Highway in mid-June at Mile 172 and emerge near Mile 400 in mid-September, with riders joining for 2 week jaunts along the way.

This area encompasses one of the largest wilderness expanses on the 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.

 

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The 2019 Muskwa-Kechika Expedition will be hosted by Wayne Sawchuk, a guide, photographer and conservationist who has been leading horseback expeditions into the Muskwa-Kechika since 1985. All expeditions are 14 nights long except Expedition 4 (22 August to 4th September) which is 13 nights. Participants can join the expedition on the following sections of the trail:

Expedition 1: Prophet River and the Eastern Slopes: 17 June - 1 July, 2019
Mile 172 of the Alaska Highway to Prophet River. This expedition pack-trip features a traverse of the historic Caribou Range and a visit to the wildlife rich Zoo Valley. Participants will travel north up the Alaska Highway to the Sikanni Chief River and then fly back from the headwaters of the Prophet River by bushplane to Fort Nelson.

Outbound: Riders will travel north from Fort St. John with guides, the horses, and gear to the trailhead on the Sikanni Chief, Mile 172 Alaska Highway. Riders should arrive in Fort St John the day before the expedition begins in order to allow time to purchase food and last minute supplies.

Inbound: Riders will meet the bush plane at the Prophet River Head Camp strip for the flight into Fort Nelson. Riders should book their flight home for the day after arriving Fort Nelson, to allow for weather related delays.

Expedition 2: SOLD OUT

Expedition 3: Rocky Mountain Divide West: July 15-July 29, 2019

Tuchodi Lakes to Mayfield Lake. This remote and rugged route will take you over the Rocky Mountain Divide past rock glaciers, alpine flower meadows, and the Big Slide, with time for unforgettable day hikes. You'll reach the Tuchodi Lakes by jet boat, and a floatplane will take you back to Muncho Lake at the end of the expedition.

Outbound: Riders will meet in Fort Nelson, usually at 7am, for the one hour drive to the jet boat landing at Kledo Creek. After the 3.5 hour jet boat run up the Muskwa and Tuchodi Rivers riders will meet their guides and pack string at East Tuchodi Lake.

Inbound: Riders will be picked up by Liard Air floatplane at Mayfield Lake, for the one hour floatplane flight to Muncho Lake.

Expedition 4: Rocky Mountain Divide East: August 22-September 4, 2019
Mayfield Lake to East Tuchodi Lake. You'll cross the Rocky Mountain Divide heading east to the spectacular Tuchodi Lakes. Autumn colours will be coming on strong, and there's always a chance to spot grizzly bear, mountain goats, or a bull moose in rut. You'll fly to Mayfield Lake by floatplane and take the jet boat back to Kledo Creek and Fort Nelson.

Outbound: Riders will be picked up by Liard Air floatplane at Muncho Lake, for the one hour floatplane flight to Mayfield Lake. We recommend booking a room at Northern Rockies Lodge, for the night before your flight. Wayne usually travels north at this time, and riders can often catch a ride to Muncho Lake with him or another rider etc. If no ride is available there is a shuttle service for approx CAD $100 pp.

Inbound: Riders will meet the jet boat at East Tuchodi Lake for the 3 hour trip down the Tuchodi and Muskwa Rivers to the Kledo Creek boat launch. There, riders will catch a one hour ride with Riverjet Adventures back to Fort Nelson via the Alaska Highway. We suggest that riders should book their flight home for the day after arriving in Fort Nelson.

Expedition 5: Eastern Slopes: September 4-September 18, 2019
East Tuchodi Lake to Alaska Highway. This rugged trip explores the wildlife-rich Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. You'll traverse the broad alpine slopes of the Northern Caribou Range and the spectacular valleys and passes of the Chisca, Tetsa, and Henry Creeks, among others. Participants will travel to East Tuchodi by jet boat and back to Fort Nelson by vehicle.

Outbound: Riders will meet a Riverjet Adventures rep at the Woodlands Inn in Fort Nelson, usually at 7am, for the one hour drive to the jet boat landing at Kledo Creek. After the 3.5 hour jet boat run up the Muskwa and Tuchodi Rivers riders will meet their guides and pack string at East Tuchodi Lake.

Inbound: The pack string will arrive at the Alaska Highway near Mile 400 later in the day, and folks usually camp at the Highway where we will meet the stock truck, and then starting at 6 am in the morning load up and be on our way south for the 2 hour ride back to Fort Nelson . Riders will catch a ride back to Fort Nelson with the guides. Flights can be booked south after 3pm on that day or later.

The structure of all the expeditions usually involves spending two days riding before resting for a day at camp. During this rest day, you can explore the mountain surroundings in whichever way you chose eg hiking, or alternatively just relax at camp for a day. On riding days, you will aim to set off from camp between 9-10am and arrive at the next nights campsite around 6pm.

We recommend booking local accommodation for the night before and after the expedition at the following hotels:

Fort Nelson: The Woodlands Inn (quote MK adventures when booking for a discounted rate)

Fort St. John: Northern Grand Hotel

Further detailed information on logistics will be sent to participants in May 2019.

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 expeditions, 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 broken in. 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 trail 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. Fitness however is mandatory, riders will be in the saddle for between 5-10 hours each day. On riding days the group will usually hit the trail by 9-10 am and pull into camp between 6-10pm.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 16 st/230 lb/105 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is camping in tents which participants supply themselves. We recommend bringing a tent that you are familiar with taking up and putting down and that is reasonably light. Your hosts will supply all cooking equipment, dishes and dish soap, camp shelter, horses and horse gear.

As all meals have to be carried on the trail 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, bring 1 pound per week, ground for the coffee press (supplied). The water in the northern rockies is drinkable so there's lots of fresh water on the trail.


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. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request. General information: All travellers are required to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel.

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.)

You may also need a:
•medical exam and
•letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada.

For further information please visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp



The Canadian High Commission in the U.K is at Macdonald House, 1 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 4AB. Telephone: (020) 7258 6600. Email: ldn@dfait-maeci.gc.ca.

The British Consulate in Canada is at 80 Elgin Street, Ottawa, K1P 5K7. Telephone: + (1) (613) 237 1530. Email: generalenquiries@BritaininCanada.org.

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

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. Check with your doctor for details but apart from general precautions no prophylaxis is usually required.

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org and the Deprtment of Health also gives medical advice on their web site at www.dh.gov.uk

Electricity

The voltage is 110-120V, 60Hz in Canada as in the USA and you will need a flat blade plug and possibly an adaptor depending on the appliance.

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

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.

Programmes

The 2019 Muskwa-Kechika Expedition will be hosted by Wayne Sawchuk, a guide, photographer and conservationist who has been leading horseback expeditions into the Muskwa-Kechika since 1985. Participants can join the expedition on the following sections of the trail:

Expedition 1: Prophet River and the Eastern Slopes: June 17-July 1, 2019
Expedition 3: Rocky Mountain Divide West: July 15-July 29, 2019
Expedition 4: Rocky Mountain Divide East: August 22-September 5, 2019
Expedition 5: Eastern Slopes: September 5-September 19, 2019

Departure Dates

2019: Expedition 1 - 17 Jun-1 Jul; Expedition 3 - 15-29 Jul; Expedition 4 -22 Aug-4 Sep; Expedition 5 - 4-18 Sep.

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 £
2019 - Expeditions 1, 3, 515d/14n9per person3,245
2019 - Expedition 414d/13n9per person3,245
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 - Expeditions 1, 3, 515d/14n9per person3,779
2019 - Expedition 414d/13n9per person3,779
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 - Expeditions 1, 3, 515d/14n9per person4,449
2019 - Expedition 414d/13n9per person4,279
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 - Expeditions 1, 3, 515d/14n9per person39,975
2019 - Expedition 414d/13n9per person39,975
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

The expeditions are structured so that you generally ride for 2 days, then have a camp day - perfect for hiking, wildlife photography, writing, or exploring the mountains around you in whatever way you choose.

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

The cost of your scheduled flights in and out of the mountains are included in the fee and are arranged by your hosts. 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):
Fort St John, Fort Nelson or Muncho Lake depending on expedition.
Transfer:
2019: Taxi from Fort Nelson approx CAD $100 pp. Carpool can usually be arranged.
Flight Guide:
London to Vancouver return from £750
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