Book Review: Pack Em Up, Ride Em Out
By Tania Millen
Caitlin Press, 2015
255 pages, $26.95
ISBN 978-1-927575-72-7, paperback
Reviewed by Margaret Evans
If you’ve ever yearned for the freedom, fun, and romance of saddling up for a horse packing trip into the wilderness, grab Pack Em Up, Ride Em Out by Tania Millen and devour every word of it.
The no-nonsense essential, practical, and fascinating information is a must-have for anyone wanting to really experience a well-planned trip into backcountry. Her boots-on-the-ground advice in the first 60 pages of the book is all about what to know if you go. From equipment and gear to skill sets, and the special qualities of a reliable backcountry horse, this information is priceless. You don’t pass Go at the trailhead until you’ve read this, then packed it with your gear.
How good are your map reading, GPS, and navigational skills? Can you properly pack a pack horse? What is your essential equipment? Can you hobble and highline a horse? Have you planned for the unexpected such as a weather event, bears, injury, or a lame horse? Have you planned an alternate route if the one you are on becomes impassable because of snow, rain or flood? Do you have a suitable friend to partner with? Do you have farrier skills, an ability to repair broken tack, and fire-starting material? What will you do if a horse gets loose, spooks, and bolts? Have you checked the legalities of accessing the region or park where you plan to ride? How long will you be gone and who did you leave your trip plan with?
Millen brings an enormous wealth of experience to her book. She learned to pack horses in 2010 and then started exploring Western Canada’s wilderness on horseback. She has completed almost all of the trips she describes in the book, which range from the South Chilcotin Mountains to Tweedsmuir and Spatsizi provincial parks. In Alberta she focuses on trails in Banff and Jasper national parks as well as Willmore Wilderness Park. Trails are rated according to difficulty and length as well as ideal months in which to travel. In addition to trail description and access, Millen includes material on the region’s history, exploration, and development.
What a great read!