The Precipice Valley (named from the basalt rimrock) hangs between the Chilcotin Plateau and the Coast Mountains. Usually, the land drops steeply off the plateau, but here there is a hiatus, a narrow, lush valley a couple of miles long at a round 1,000 feet altitude. The climate is not quite interior, but it is definitely not coast either.
At the top end live Dave and Rosemary Neads. At the bottom end, live Fred and Monika. In the middle, occupying most of the land is the rancher, Lee Taylor. As winter ends, Lee pushes his cattle up onto the Chilcotin Plateau where they will graze on logging blocks for the summer. He can then use his valley fields to grow hay. The job takes only a few hours, but it is the excuse for a great weekend party.
Usually this event takes place at the end of May. But everything is so late this year, the party was postponed to Saturday 4th June. Even so, the long, very rough road into the Precipice was pronounced undrivable so we had to go in by atv. (The residents had still been snowmobiling in and out a month before.) Dave and Fred picked up those of us who did not own such a machine.
Most of the road was its usual rocky self, but there were some enormous puddles in places.
(On the way back we took a different route and Fred had to cut out a tree. One never travels without an axe or a saw in this country.)
Those who had horses rode down. From the left: Aileen, Henry and Leslie.
Henry’s packhorse is seven years old and this is the first time he has been carrying a pack. Henry caught him and rode him for the first time the day before. He is going to be a lovely gentle horse. Aileen was one of the women who helped me build my house. (She is the one in the middle in the house-building picture.)
We had a turkey dinner that night and the following morning the cows were gathered and driven up the mountain.
There were only about 30 cows and calves – and nearly as many people following on horses and atvs. Even so, one cow decided to head down into the brush. It was too thick for the horses, and a dog did not help matters by chasing the cow back towards the riders. “Cowboy, you’re at the wrong end!” floated down towards me. (Cowboy was the name of the dog!) But otherwise the cattle drive went very smoothly. Only one calf was lost and the mother came back down for it later.