I ended the cattle drive around 1995. I couldn’t keep it up. It was too much work. We had a growing farm and a growing family and we just couldn’t justify it any more and it made me sad.
When I was young, our every summer was spent driving our herd of cattle to alpine grazing at Goat Meadows (aka Miller Creek ). We thought it was normal for children to push big old bellowing cows up a mountain. We were little ruffians with rocks and sticks and running shoes. We darted and loped across the brushy hillside, cutting off escape, alway trying to make the cows think we were impassable.
Dad was alway there, in charge, and always at the back, patiently trying to instruct us on the instincts of cattle and how to use them to make this job easier for all.
When my sisters and I were small, we mastered sleeping on horseback double (although that may have been mostly me.) I remember how a horse’s shoe can turn the pitch black into daylight as they struggled in the dark on the steep rocky trail. We took a lot of these trips in the dark, after Dad’s work day on the farm was done. Our old workhorse type horses had no problem travelling in complete darkness.
The cattlemen had a cabin in the Second Meadows where we would camp and cook and play while the adults did the hard work of cutting out trails or building bridges.
Our destination was the Third Meadow which overlooks the Pemberton Valley. Our cows knew the way and once their memories of last year in the meadows kicked in, it became a slow walk to paradise.
Coming into the Third Meadows was uplifting – the smell was amazing of alpine flowers and grasses. The view opened up to grassy Meadows, and far below at the end of the Second Meadows was the massive Miller Glacier which roared constantly on the breeze lifting from the Second Meadows.