Combing through journals and photo albums of my early guiding years the other day I came across a picture and thought….hum, this is certainly worth 500 words. The photo was taken in July 1976 at Grave Lake, which is in northern B.C. just south of the Yukon border. As the brown sign says, we were at GCF Dalziel’s camp # 3. The motley looking crew (I am 2nd from left, back row) had just trailed a large bunch of horses in from Horse Ranch Lake. Our job was to put shoes each horse before the sheep hunters arrived August 1st.
This is an interesting photo and I am pretty sure it was taken on a day off from our hectic pre hunting season preparations. Notice the shoeing chaps in the left corner of the picture and assorted horse shoes hanging on the cabin. There is a hand carved wooden paddle to the left of the group (someone had way too much time on their hands). The firearms we
Food supplies in this camp were rather limited and fresh moose meat, flour & salt were critical staples. We made bannock or bread when we could. My grandfather occasionally flew in other groceries, including powdered Tang & dried fruit. Lack of vitamin C used to be a serious problem for northern pioneers like my grandfather and I think he was doing his best to ward off scurvy with his crew. After unloading the Beaver floatplane one afternoon we all realized that there was a “perfect storm” of ingredients sitting on the dock; sugar, yeast, and a full case of Golden Harvest mixed dried fruit. A few days later our plastic water bucket was making gurgling noises with large bubbles forming on top. The cabin soon smelled like a brewery. I had never made home brew before (or since), but looking back I suppose this was all part of growing up….and becoming self reliant. The alcohol content was low, most likely because the batch was still green when we drank it. It actually tasted so bad we had to mix it with Tang!
Every person in this photo enjoyed life in the bush to the fullest. Larson and Michael Johnny were decent sheep guides and I am proud to have shared several spike camps with them. The others pictured were capable horse wranglers, cooks, and camp helpers. Sadly, several of those guys are no longer with us, but my memory of them and all the good times we had lives on!