Smith Gardner (left), of Glenbank, seen here with his friend Cliff Bowes, was one of the many teenagers over the years who made some spending money packing visitors’ supplies up to the springs on horseback. (Arrow Lakes Historical Society photo)

Smith Gardner (left), of Glenbank, seen here with his friend Cliff Bowes, was one of the many teenagers over the years who made some spending money packing visitors’ supplies up to the springs on horseback. (Arrow Lakes Historical Society photo)

Historical society recognizing Heritage Week with excerpt from upcoming book

Memories of Old Nakusp Hot Springs will be book three in their portable history series

In celebration of Heritage Week, the Arrow Lakes Historical Society is sharing an excerpt from their soon to be published book three in the Portable History Series, Memories Of Old Nakusp Hot Springs.

Most people camping at the hot springs brought their own tents, sat on rocks or stumps, and cooked over open fires.

Drinking water was carried from Kuskanax Creek.

Campers were warned not to wash their clothes in undiluted hot springs water as the fabric would quickly deteriorate. Although the hot springs experience sounded idyllic, there were a few drawbacks.

A local saying was: “If you don’t get enough scratching from the mosquitoes, try running through the poison ivy.”

By now, packhorses had become the preferred way to get equipment and supplies into the springs. Good packhorses needed to possess a certain temperament and be patient, tolerant, calm and cautious.

The packer needed skill loading the packs. Weight, size and shape of items had to be taken into consideration.

Soft items were placed toward the side of the horse, heavy items at the bottom, and impact-resistant items up front. Balancing the packs was an equally important skill. The items had to be secured to the horse with a series of ropes and knots.

When the animal was labouring up inclines and cautiously going down declines, it was important the load didn’t shift. Credit needs to be given to these hard-working animals.

Some campers recruited the help of young Smith Gardner to pack in supplies. He soon became known as “The Kid.”

He was small in frame and occasionally needed help getting his pack on. Things did not always turn out as planned with packhorses. Smith told of one such unfortunate story.

“One time I was packing about 10 loads for a drunken trapper. I had put the halter reins around a post and started to pack the last load. It was odds and ends with a tin stove and about 6 or 8 lengths of stove pipe. I got it all on and the pipes rattled. Dolly, my horse, was skittish and you had to be on your guard all the time. She bucked and pulled the post right out of the ground and down the street she went. There was pack and stove and pipe for about 400 yards.

“Other pack horses were more reliable. One such horse was Jerry, owned by the Sutherlands, who ran the local dairy. Jerry was known for his ability to carry in excess of 300 pounds without a flinch, but he is best remembered for his intelligence. Upon his arrival and unloading at the springs, he only needed a pat on the rump and he turned around and found his own way home. Being white in colour, he was often used as a guide for people returning from the springs at night. His intelligence went beyond what is usually attributed to equestrian ability in an episode involving a local man, George Moul.

“Moul was coming from the hot springs late one evening, secure in the knowledge that Jerry was sure footed and trustworthy. All of a sudden the horse stopped and no amount of prodding could get him to go on. Finally, Moul dismounted and started to lead the horse forward, Jerry followed, and soon Moul was on his way.

“The next morning, when Moul was returning to the springs, he came upon the spot on the trail where he had been detained the night before. He noticed a tree had been uprooted and was hanging over the trail.

“Calculations showed that a man riding a horse would have hit the trunk and been thrown off the horse. Jerry could fit under the tree but he sensed that his rider could not.

“Moul could only wonder at this revelation.”

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