Years of effort behind North Summit facility
The Methow Valley Back Country Horsemen (MVBCH) celebrated the grand opening of the North Summit Horse Camp at Loup Loup Pass on Oct. 5.
Mary Pat Bauman first had the idea for a horse camp at the Loup when she was a ski patroller for the Loup Loup Ski Bowl. She and her husband, Rick, gathered their friends and fellow MVBCH members and, on a summer weekend with permission from the ski area, hauled their horses and campers up to the parking lot at the bottom of the chair lifts. They spent the weekend riding the trails of the Loup with friends and talked about getting together to do it again.
“That’s where the idea took hold,” Bauman recalled.
That was 10 years ago. Rick and Mary Pat’s idea became reality when horse people from across Washington state came to celebrate the grand opening of the North Summit Horse Camp.
Long road, team effort
Finding a site for the horse camp proved harder than expected. MVBCH initially approached the Loup Loup Ski Bowl to see if the horse camp could be built at the far end of the ski area parking lot. The Ski Bowl turned them down so they approached the U.S. Forest Service and proposed building the camp at the JR campground (now decommissioned) on the north side of Highway 20. That site turned out to be too small and too close to the busy freeway to be safe for horses. Finally, the group proposed building the camp behind the Loup Loup Sno-Park and the Forest Service agreed, and began the extensive review process — which included environmental and archaeological assessments of the site.
In late September 2017, MVBCH signed a contract with the Forest Service and construction at the site began.
“It’s been a long, long journey,” said Bill Ford, a member of MVBCH who spearheaded efforts to build the horse camp and gave a speech at the opening. “It’s not been easy. There were a lot of bumps in the road, but we’re here now to celebrate 10 years of hard work.” Ford looked at his wife, Jan, and smiled in gratitude. “When the trail got dim and I couldn’t find my way, she got me back on the straight and narrow. I know I don’t say it enough, but this is your official thank you.”
Labor of love
Building the North Summit Horse Camp was truly a labor of love. MVBCH chapter members logged 2,142 volunteer hours and the chapter contributed $47,644 to get the horse camp built.
“A lot of chip shoveling, fire wood piling, bake sales and Spring Rides went into getting us here,” said chapter president Cathy Upper, when she addressed the crowd. Each year the MVBCH holds a Spring Ride, which is attended by horse people from all over the state. Proceeds from the annual auction made up a substantial part of the chapter’s contribution to the cost of building the camp.
“The Methow Valley is a model for BCH chapters across the state — and even the country,” said Jason Ridlin, vice president of Back Country Horsemen Washington. “This took an incredible amount of work and you should all be proud.”
Fifteen BCH chapters from around the state contributed $11,200 and several individuals sponsored campsites for $2,500 per site.
Phase One of construction is now complete, with a total cost of $76,661. Gravel for the camp ground cost $25,861.42. There are now six campsites with room for truck and trailer, as well as high lines for tying up horses and manure collection sites. There is currently no potable water at the campground but that will be resolved in Phase Two of construction when a nearby spring will be tapped to bring water to the camp. Six more sites as well as toilets, perimeter fencing, a picnic shelter and concrete slab will also be added, thanks to a grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office for $112,000. Phase Two should be complete by the end of 2021.
Chris Furr, the Methow Valley District Ranger for the Forest Service, attended the opening ceremony and presented a certificate of appreciation to MVBCH members Bill Ford and Pete Stoothoff.
“It’s a small gesture of appreciation for such a great group of people who are in this for something more than themselves,” Furr said. “It’s an honor, as a ranger, to have you all as partners.”
As the lunch time festivities wound down, Mary Pat Bauman sat at a new picnic table watching her corgi, Teddy, play. Her husband, Rick, served as president of the MVBCH from 2009 until 2012. He passed away after a long battle with cancer in 2012.
“Rick would be so happy if he were here today. He loved the social part of horse camping. He loved taking the camper and cracking a beer after a nice ride with friends,” she said, smiling.
“This is really lovely. It’s been a long time.”