Horse Rides
24 July 2007
(Day 1)

Photos courtesy Barry Gilligan, and Chris and Mike Randall

OK. I admit it! My reason for wanting to ride horseback up Moose Mountain was entirely personal. I figured that was the only way I would be able to visit the Brokeback Mountain movie sites on Moose Mountain. I have some arthritis, and while walking a couple miles is not a problem, I knew that a 9 mile (14 km) hike up Moose Mountain and back would be impossible for me. Fortunately, these days I am better at horseback riding than I am at hiking! I had done a fair amount of riding in college, and less and less in the years since. However, I’ve always believed that any skill once learned is never entirely forgotten, and I was completely comfortable in thinking a horseback ride up Moose Mountain would be something I could manage.

I mentioned all this to Jim Bond during our trip to Alberta in July of 2006. In turn, Jim mentioned this to Rob Freeman, and he was able to give me a few word-of-mouth leads to horse people, outfitters, and packers familiar with the trails up and around Moose Mountain. After a couple of false starts, I was eventually able to connect with Allan Johnson of Rocky Mountain Outfitters. [1] A former professional rodeo cowboy, Allan makes a business of providing interested adventurers with custom day rides, and overnight hunting and fishing trips, into the foothills and mountains of the Kananaskis Range. [2] At about the same time I connected with Allan, Jim discovered that Lauren Gurney was very much a horse person, having both kept and shown horses when she was younger. After discussing with Lauren the contacts I had made and the issues I had discussed with Allan, she immediately became interested in joining me for what was then shaping up to be a one day / two person ride up Moose Mountain. And then we made things complicated! We decided to ask if other people we knew might also be interested in riding up Moose Mountain. And Canyon Creek.

[1] Allan’s website,, was closed sometime after this writing.
[2] We later learned that Allan is a long time friend of T. J. Bews, Brokeback Mountain’s Animal Coordinator, and that he had been involved in moving the sheep to Bews’ ranch for special feeding, and up Moose Mountain.


Late in 2006, some members of the forum began planning a group tour of Brokeback movie locations in Alberta. By the spring of 2007 they were well along with their plans, and as it happened, in July 2007 more than 30 forum members, from more than 5 different countries, made the trip to Canada. Lauren is a long time member and contributer to BetterMost, and when she posted a forum note mentioning our riding plans, more than a dozen people expressed interest in joining us. Lauren and I both felt that the quality of the ride would suffer if we had too many people riding at once, and when we considered the safety and logistical issues involved [3] we quickly convinced ourselves that we should limit our ride to something like four to six people. And Allan agreed. And then we made things more complicated! For everyone to ride, we decided to divide the riders into three groups, some riding on 24 July, others on 25 July, and the rest on 26 July. Inevitably there were conflicts with some BetterMost activities, but Lauren took the lead in resolving them, and to her great credit she was able to find a way to accommodate nearly everyone who wanted to ride.

The photos you see here were taken on 24 July. They are representative of the things we did and saw during what turned out to be a ten hour ride up Moose Mountain and into Canyon Creek. It was a very long day!

[3] Despite everyones best efforts, there were still thrills and spills and last minute changes!

BG / 5 May 2008




  Revised 09 January 2011