3 Horseback Riders Stop in Kennewick
by Cameron Probert
In April, three Idaho women set out from Astoria, Ore., with seven horses -- on a mission to save threatened salmon.
Katelyn Spradley, Kat Cannell and MJ Wright trotted into Kennewick this weekend, a month into their 1,000-mile journey.
"We're following the salmon home," Cannell said. "We started from where the Columbia meets the ocean and we're going all the way to Stanley, Idaho, which is the farthest inland that any of these fish go."
The women, ages 23 to 27 from Central Idaho, started out at the ocean on April 18, spending most of their days on horseback following the course of the river.
Their days start at 5 a.m. and end at 8 p.m., and at a speed of roughly 3 mph, they cover about 20 miles each day.
The slow pace presents challenges. If they end up going the wrong direction, the women could lose an entire day backtracking.
"You're constantly thinking about your route and not taking a wrong turn," Cannell said. "You're always thinking about the condition of the horses. ... When was the last time they drank. Are we making ample time to make sure we get to camp early to make sure they get ample rest."
The women, all experienced long-distance riders, spent months plotting their course, arranging for supplies to meet them and conditioning their horses.
"We're already calling forward to the next place because we're going to have other horses that will need farrier attention," Spradley said.
Their stop in Kennewick was their first resupply stop since Hood River, Ore., seven days earlier. Their next stop is Lewiston, where the Snake and Clearwater rivers meet.
And, all the while, they are acting as ambassadors for the two species of Idaho's threatened and endangered salmon -- fall and spring chinook and sockeye salmon. They aren't promoting any specific resolution for helping the fish that travel 900 miles upstream and about 6,000 feet in elevation to spawning grounds.
"There is some serious polarization happening on the sides for how to save the salmon," Cannell said. "Nobody is getting anywhere because of it."
They thought they might be a good bridge to bring people together.
"They are pretty exquisite fish," Spradley said. "Their numbers are down and they continue to go down. And if we don't make a difference and try to find a solution, they're going to go away completely."
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