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BCHW Backcountry Authors

thnjan2015Washington Backcountry  Horsemen Authors as published in the Jan/Feb issue of the TrailHead News

As much as I hate to admit it, this is the time of the year when my easy chair sees more of me than my saddle. There’s something about a log roaring in the stove that beckons after the evening’s last feeding and checking of the ponies. A warm fire, a comfortable chair, and a good book will help to pass the long winter nights ahead of us before the spring thaw opens the trails again.

As I was going through my winter reading list I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the books were written by my fellow Back Country Horsemen of Washington members. From inspirational reads that will have you to aching to ride and camp to How To guides that will give you the skills to do so, my collection is filled with BCHW names and memories.

Pack Saddles & Gunpowder, by Susie Drougas, Tahoma Chapter

thnjan2015The Tahoma Chapter has a novelist in their midst. Susie has taken her experiences of riding and packing, and turned them into an adventure series of books starring many of the areas that BCHW members across the state have heard of and ridden. The first installment of the series will have you yearning to return to the high country of the Cascade range as you follow Dusty Rose through Big Crow Basin and on into the Pasayten Wilderness in this rousing adventure story. Likewise, if you’re an aspiring back country rider you really ought to give Pack Saddles & Gunpowder a read to hone your LNT skills as Susie deftly wraps the tenants of Leave No Trace into the saga of a reluctant big city lawyer who rides and packs into the high country. Get your copy at

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, by Vern Hopkins, Inland Empire Chapter

Longtime member of the Inland Empire Chapter, Vern Hopkins, has taken his recollections, adventures, and memories from a lifetime spent ranching, rodeoing, and horse racing, and put them into a collection of short stories that will have you smiling with each chapter as you follow Vern through the decades spent with horses. Each tale shares Vern’s good-natured swirl as he shares his remarkable life from 1934 to the present. When I read it for the first time I didn’t put it down until I finished the whole book, so plan accordingly! Get your copy at

thnjan20151After you’ve enjoyed the rousing yarns in “Pack Saddles & Gunpowder” and “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time” a good instructional guide will give you the confidence to do the packing and camping that you’ll be dreaming of.

Packers Guidebook, by Ed & Sue Haefliger, Pennisula Chapter

If packing cargo for camp, trail work, or any other reason is on your list of To-Do’s the Mountain Canary Company’s Packer’s Guidebook should be high on your list of resources to familiarize yourself with. Ed explains the concepts of safe packing in a clear, concise, and entertaining manner as you accompany he and his much better half, Sue, deep into the backcountry of the Olympic National Forest where Ed is a long time volunteer packer for the park. My copy is well worn, dog eared, and dirty from use. Get yours at

Get the fire going, and pull up the chair! You’re going to enjoy these winter reads that will inspire you to ride and camp with your horses and mules and also teach you to do so safely. As always find your next great riding and camping spot at, the official trail and camping directory of BCHW.