Usually, I am extremely fearful of immigration officers.
After crossing so many borders, especially with horses and being hassled at every single one, my relationship with these men and women who guard imaginary lines is not the best. But in Beaver Creek, that all changed.
The officer who stamped our passports ended up being an amazing guy who I had the pleasure of getting to know better and even sharing cold beers with.
“You are the coolest immigration officer I have ever met,” I said before cheering my new friend.
Before we left Beaver Creek, with Mac and Smokey’s shoes wearing down quickly, my new friend even helped me acquire new shoes. One of his workmates was in Whitehorse buying groceries and offered to buy new shoes for my horses. With no tack or feed stores for the next 500 kms, these shoes would save our lives and my horses hooves.
On a hot Wednesday morning we began our ride towards Burwash Landing. After saying goodbye to all of our new friends, I kicked Mac up and Smokey followed close behind.
On our second day out, we rode by another RV park. While we let the horses graze in front of the place, a nice elderly woman came out to chat with us. After we told her about what we were doing and where we were going, she let us know that just 3 kms down the road lived an outfitter who had more than 60 horses.
“I’m sure he would love to host you for a night… he has corrals, hay, water,” she told us before we bid her farewell.
After a month high-lining the horses on the side of the Alaska Highway nearly every night due to the lack of ranches and farms, this place sounded like it was too good to be true.
“A real ranch with horses… here?” I asked Clara not believing the news.
I climbed on Smokey and lead Mac south towards what sounded like heaven! When we arrived at the driveway for the ranch, I tied the horses to two trees and walked in.
“Hello, my name is Filipe I am riding two horses from Fairbanks to Calgary” I told a young man wearing an old red baseball cap.
“Let me go ask my dad,” he said before running off to get his old man.
Up here in the north I have had little opportunity to ask for help. There are never any houses or ranches anywhere. Finally, here I was asking for a place to sleep with my horses. What I did a million times before on my previous long rides.
But unlike my other journeys, where I never received a no and was always welcomed like family, this time it was different.
“I can’t have your horses mixing with mine… I also don’t want them calling out to each other… you can high line them next to my landing strip, 500 meters from here,” the outfitter’s words seemed to have no meaning.
I fought to understand what he was telling me, but it didn’t make sense. As I looked around I could see corrals and hay and water and horses… I couldn’t believe it.
“Okay thank you sir, I saw you have a farrier here shoeing your horses, do you mind if he shoes mine tonight,” I said before walking away.
“As long as you pay for it,” he shot back.
“Yes sir, of course I will pay for it,” I responded.
It was all too weird, a horseman being so cold; not asking what we needed, but instead shooing us away.
But it was better than nothing and most importantly, Mac and Smokey would get new shoes.