Back Country Horsemen to host Challenge Cabin event

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Andy Breland and Matt Farwell head home after leaving a Continental Divide Trail crew in this file photo. (Photo by Chuck Allen)

The Back Country Horsemen of the Flathead will play host to other Back Country Horsemen chapters from around Montana and one from Canada in August as they put on the first-ever “Challenge at Challenge Cabin.”

The four-day gathering will bring various chapters of back country horsemen from across the state to gather at a historically important backcountry cabin in Montana for chance to exchange ideas and explore a wonderful part of the state. According to a press release, the Flathead chapter will do some trail clearing during the event, but the real focus of The Challenge at Challenge will be fellowship, the exchange of ideas, and the many trail riding opportunities, as well as socializing for both members and guests.

“Collectively, chapters across the state all have splendid ideas that propel their individual groups to exciting prominence in their own areas,” Flathead chapter member and Challenge leader Rick Maedje said. “This first-ever event would hopefully be an opportunity to share these ideas to the benefit of all chapters so that we may increase our ability to serve, attract new members, and be the best stewards of these majestic areas that we can possibly be. We see this as the natural next step in the evolution for the Flathead Chapter of Back Country Horsemen and hope members of other BCH Montana chapters can join us.”

The idea for the event came last year as Roland Cheek, the founder of the first Back Country Horsemen chapter in Montana in 1973, was visiting Challenge Cabin with a group from the Flathead chapter that were clearing trails in the area. Cheek said a couple from the Charlie Russell Chapter in Great Falls showed up too, to see what it was like, and it got him thinking about getting the member from even more chapters together.

“Rick Maedje and I got to talking and we wondered, if there was one couple there from another chapter, if we were to promote an event centered around Challenge Cabin, how many others from additional chapters would want to attend,” Cheek said. “We have no idea what the event is going to transpire into, but the idea behind it was to have an exchange of ideas between clubs and maybe it would be the next step forward for backcountry horsemen. There is a state organization where reps from each chapter get together twice a year, but nothing like this has been tried before.”

The Flathead chapter quickly went to work, organizing the event and issuing invitations to the other 17 chapters in Montana as well as one in British Columbia, Canada. The group has also invited a number of special guests, including Congressman Greg Gianforte, Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, Governor Steve Bullock, Regional Forest Director Leanne Marten and Hungry Horse District Ranger Rob Davies.

While Cheek says the Flathead Chapter is not sure how many will show up for the event, they are expecting at least 100 people and maybe more.

While the organization is always looking for new members, Cheek said the Challenge at Challenge Cabin will be limited to Back Country Horsemen members, as there is limited space to camp in the area.

The Flathead Chapter will also provide breakfast and dinner for members and other BCH chapter guests on Friday and Saturday August 23 and 24. Attendees must provide their own breakfast and dinner for the other days, as well as their own lunches.

Maps for trail riding options will be provided, as well as detailed descriptions of each ride. Guests are invited to pop in during the four days, but should RSVP by August 1 to help with the planning for the event.

For more information, contact Cheek at roland@rolandcheek.com or call 406-892-5560.

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