Story and photo by John Adamski
It was four years ago this week that Bernice Ende rode on horseback through the Finger Lakes Region, leading a pack horse with panniers that were loaded with enough survival gear for daily life on the trail. Riding northward through Livingston County—a ride that took her five days—she was on her way to visit Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Mount Hope Cemetery and her home and museum in Rochester. From there she rode east to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, which took her another twelve days.
But the story really began more than 2,000 miles away on the first day of April that year in the northwestern Rocky Mountain town of Trego, Montana, where Bernice lives in an isolated log cabin next to the Kootenai National Forest when she’s not on the trail. Readers may remember that Bernice is the lady long rider who was on a personal quest to ride from her home in Trego to the Atlantic Coast and back. Her stops in Rochester and Seneca Falls were to personally celebrate the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote in Montana.
I was tipped off by a neighbor that Bernice was camping alongside Canaseraga Creek, in a spot not far from my home, so I made a point to investigate with the hope of interviewing her for a potential Life in the Finger Lakes magazine article. I was in luck. Bernice was only too happy to tell her story, which you can read at https://www.lifeinthefingerlakes.com/happy-trails-2/.
In September 2016, I was on my own month-long quest to tour and photograph the American West and Canadian Rockies when I realized that I would be skirting the community of Trego on my way up to British Columbia. So I contacted Bernice to see if I could stop by for a visit. She not only obliged but extended an invitation for me to stay for dinner and spend the night as her guest. She talked about some of her long-riding experiences in great detail and I suggested that she might consider writing a book. As it turned out, I was only one of hundreds of people that she met along the trail who encouraged her to do that very same thing.
Lady Long Rider; Alone Across America on Horseback by Bernice Ende was published in June by Farcountry Press. Copies signed by the author are available for $16.95 plus $6.00 shipping at http://www.endeofthetrail.com/store/. It’s also available on Amazon. It is beautifully written and illustrated with black-and-white photos that chronicle Bernice’s travels, the friends she’s made along the way, and her encounters with everything from weather and wildlife to worn-out horseshoes. I ordered a copy as soon as it was announced. Bernice is a gifted writer and I could hardly put the book down once it arrived.
The long rider tradition in America dates back to the 19th century when buckskin-clad mountain men on horseback led their pack animals across western prairies and into the Rockies. Bernice has exceeded every one of those historic accomplishments by covering more than 30,000 miles in the saddle, which has earned her special recognition from the International Long Riders Guild. Order her book. You won’t be able to put it down.