Lady Long Rider Bernice Ende was back in Chewelah last week to kick off the finishing leg of her coast to coast long distance horseback trip. Ende stopped in Chewelah last fall after completing two-thirds of the trip before winter, meeting many locals as she got a cup of coffee at Paul’s Coffee on Main and tethered her horses to a light pole. She returned to her home in Trego, MT before re-starting the ride this spring. Her final 700 mile leg from Chewelah to Bellingham will complete her current coast-to-coast ride and help her log 28,000 miles of riding over the last 12 years.
Ende gave a presentation at the Chewelah Library on April 20 and shared many of her experiences and adventures as a distance rider, along with photos and maps of her travels.
Ende started riding long distances after she retired from teaching ballet in Trego in 2003, when she felt a “change of focus” was needed.
“I felt the pull of the open road. Adventure called, the need to go, see, do. A window of opportunity opened and I climbed out,” Ende said.
Ende hopes that the attention she gets from her travels will act as an inspiration for other women.
“I do this for the love of the ride, but I also hope that the message people get from meeting me is that it is important to discover, to learn and to grow,” she said. “I also hope I inspire other women to know they can do hard things and to take on leadership roles.”
Ende’s first ride in 2005 covered 2,000 miles. Subsequent trips in 2006-2013 ended up covering 18,000 miles in eight years. During that time she has blogged about her experience, as well as creating a DVD called, “The first 10,000 miles.”
On her current trip, Ende said she plans to follow her current strategy of riding most of the day, stopping in the afternoon to make tea and unsaddle the horses and then perhaps picking up another 10 miles before stopping for the night. She sleeps in a tent in all weather conditions and prefers to walk alongside her horses as much as possible.
Ende takes mostly backroads and secondary routes for safety but will ask a friend to trailer her horses across bridges or other traffic-congested areas if needed. However, Ende gives her calm, reliable horses Essie Pearl (a Norwegian Fjord) and Montana Spirit (a Fjord/Percheron cross) much of the credit for keeping her safe on the trail.
“They don’t get worked up about anything. We have had semi trucks passing us at 80 miles an hour, so close you could touch them,” Ende said.
To help stay supplied, Ende ships boxes of food and horseshoes to herself at post offices along the way. She has her horses professionally shoed at the beginning of the season and then re-shoes them herself along her journey.
Although she doesn’t meet many other distance riders in her travels, Ende did find many who prefer the buggy to the BMW when she traveled through the Amish community of Middlefield, Ohio. “It is the fourth largest Amish community in the world and there were at least 40 buggies at the Wal-Mart,” she said with a laugh.
When asked at the library presentation if she was ever scared on her trip and how she handled the inclement weather, the bugs and the danger, Ende said she feels her life has prepared her for these kinds of trips.
“I think studying and teaching ballet really gave me some of the ability to persevere,” said Ende. “With that and my farm upbringing, I think I inherited a kind of can-do-ness.”
To track Ende’s current ride, visit her blog, www.endeofthetrail where she posts regular photos and updates.
By Jamie Henneman/The Independent Staff