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Horseback riding is not something that instantly comes to mind when planning a vacation or weekend away in the mountains. But multi-day horseback tours are becoming an increasingly popular way to see and experience the Whistler and Pemberton backcountry.

Here’s just a few reasons why:

1. The horse will carry all of your supplies so you don’t have to  unlike hiking, the horse will happily carry your meals, water, clothing…oh, and you.

2. No experience or expensive gear necessary – mountain biking in these remote areas requires a base level of skill and investment in expensive equipment. With Copper Cayuse Outfitters they supply the horse, the riding know-how, and all the gear. Just take yourself along and off you go.

3. Horses travel faster so you can explore further – the backcountry is huge, and hiking can take days to truly escape civilization. On a bike it’s a little faster, but you’re still at the whim of your own personal fitness. On a horse almost anyone can enjoy discovering hidden gems, way off the beaten path.

This summer we joined Copper Cayuse Outfitters for their Canadian Travel Commission “Signature Experience”, the 3 day “Li-Lik-Hel” Mine Expedition.

Here’s a photo journal of our incredible long weekend with Don, Dudley, Georgia, Max, Ringo, Nipper, Rocky, LB and Frank the dog.

Forget everything you know about horseback tours. This adventure kicks dust in the eyes of any follow-the-leader-style pony trek you might have done. By the end of the 3 days, your guides will have you riding terrain you never thought possible on a horse.

Please visit the Copper Cayuse Outfitters website to for prices and dates of the the Li-Lik-Hel Mine Tour.
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Click on the images to enlarge them.

Day 1: Horseback Ride To Base Camp Above Birkenhead Lake Near Whistler

Our favourite moments from day 1: Having lunch, and enjoying Evelyn’s (Don’s wife) homemade cookies, while looking over Birkenhead Provincial Park.

Approaching camp, having no idea what to expect, and seeing a little slice of heaven tucked away in the trees. The whole camp was built by hand from dead-fall and materials found at the site. Even the tin on the roof of the main meal-house was scavenged from an old, abandoned mining settlement.

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Day 2: Horseback Ride From Base Camp To The Abandoned Li-Lik-Hel Gold Mine

Our favourite moments from day 2: Building a bond with our horses after almost 24 hours together– we trusted them and they trusted us.

Feeling like a cowboy swaying from side to side, one hand on the reins and one in the air for balance, as we descended trails steep enough for downhill mountain bikes.

Listening to Don’s stories and facts about the geological and cultural heritage of the region’s gold mining industry.

Waking up to a fresh pot of coffee and a breakfast of locally grown and locally sourced produce, cooked over an open fire.

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Day 3: Horseback Ride From Base Camp To Birkenhead Lake

Our favourite moments from day 3: Pancakes with fresh wild mulberries, picked from around camp that morning.

Pulling our (very warm) toes out of our boots and dipping them in the turquoise waters of Birkenhead Lake. It was wonderful to visit in the summer, after spending some time ice-fishing on Birkenhead Lake in the winter.

Having advanced our riding skills enough that we felt at one with the horses as we let them run through the forest trails in the afternoon sun.

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Book Yourself On A Whistler Horseback Tour With Copper Cayuse Outfitters

If you tell them we sent you…you might get extra homemade cookies in your lunch!