By Andrea Arnold
The 10th Annual Poker Ride hosted by the Back Country Horsemen of BC’s Robson Valley Chapter, was held on Sept. 17th. At the start of this year’s event, participants staged at the new MacIntosh Rustic Equine Recreation Site located 3km up the McIntosh logging road about 8km west of McBride (The site will officially open in spring 2023).
The Poker Ride has been held nine other times, each year on the third Saturday in September. This is the first year back after three years off due to covid restrictions. The previous nine events were held at the Hinkleman grazing lease where riders rode the Fraser and Beaver Rivers. This year, participants left from the campground and used the Belle Mountain ski trails along with mid and upper MacIntosh connector trails to make their way around the course and back to the campground.
“The Poker ride is a fundraiser and all monies raised go toward maintaining and building trails and trailheads etc in the Robson Valley,” said Chapter president Eileen MacDonald. “We usually have 60 to 80 riders from local and close communities: Jasper, Valemount, Robson Valley, Quesnel, Prince George and Clearwater.”
Registration began at 10:00am and the goal was to have all riders leave for a fun trail ride between by 11:00. The return deadline was set for 3:15pm followed by a meal and the awarding of prizes.
During registration at the start of the event, each participant purchases a minimum of one poker hand. Once their paperwork is complete, they draw one card for each of their purchased poker hands. As they ride the 14km course, they collect poker chips that have been placed along the way. With a pocket full of chips, they return to the staging area and exchange each chip for the opportunity to draw cards from a deck to complete their poker hand(s).
“Prizes are given for first, second and third best poker hands as well as a booby prize for the worst hand,” said MacDonald.
This year, 39 participants from the Robson Valley, Prince George, Kamloops, and Alberta attended the dinner/social and were eligible to win prizes. 28 people rode the 14km trail collecting poker chips, and 19 people who didn’t ride but who purchased one or more ghost Rider hands.
Due to the significant rain on Friday, some people from out of town cancelled their trips, unsure of what Saturday’s weather was going to look like, but the group was treated to a great day, and the trails were still in good shape.
Once riders completed the ride, they shared a delicious meal of chicken and beef tacos prepared by volunteers Jane McClinton and Carolyn Duchoslav, with food provided by McBride grocery stores. Tom Pittman roasted corn on the fire.
Participants and volunteer names were placed into a draw for a chance to win one of the many prizes donated by local businesses and individuals. Prizes were also distributed for the top three poker hands, and the worst hand.
1st prize: Nicola Redman (PG) – a pair of custom leather chaps by Kicking Horse Saddlery
2nd prize: Emily Chrichton (McBride/Kamloops) – Saddle Blanket from Cavallo
3rd prize: Karline Serwatkew (PG) – Portable Propane BBQ from Adrenaline Services
Booby/Poopy Prize (Worst hand) Ken Starchuk (McBride) – bathroom trash pail with toilet paper, cleaners donated by Robson Valley Septic.
“We really appreciate the incredible generosity and support in the Valley,” said MacDonald. “ We were very appreciative of the volunteers who made parking, registration and trail navigation seamless, and of the venue at the new rustic equine campground with its kitchen shelter, sites and corrals.”
The group displayed sponsor names at the event and the list of names will also hang on the McBride Home Hardware fence on Main Street for the months of September and October.