Averill’s Herd of Horses

For roughly fifteen years we have pastured our horses in the Creston area of the Flathead Valley. We have been lucky enough to have Bob Borgan, a retired county welder and diesel mechanic watch after our stock while in his fields. Bob, retired for 10 years this summer from his county post, has run his families farm operation dating back almost 40 years, much of which was done in the evenings or on weekends. Today, Bob and his wife Louanne, a retired school teacher, enjoy their time growing hay during the summer months, (this is the hay we feed at the ranch) and during the winter and spring months watching over the horses everyone enjoys throughout the summer. Bob and Louanne have a few of their favorites in the herd like many of our guests. “Bob,” our big buckskin is Bob’s favorite horse as he once was owned by Bob and called “Buck”. Louanne on the other hand favors the miniatures, Melvin, Ron, Calamity and Jethro. She spends many mornings feeding them treats and sitting in a small pen petting them. This spring Bob was ecstatic when Laine found a team of Mules to add to the lodge herd. A self-proclaimed mule guy, Bob has found two new favorites, Rose and Violet.

Perhaps you are wondering why we don’t keep the herd on lodge property year around? The main reason being that our number one priority is to sustain a healthy and well-maintained herd of horses for our guests. As our season slows down towards the end of October, we begin to pull shoes and take the horses up to “The Hill” where most of our trail rides go. Our entire property line is fenced for pasturing the horses, however when we put upward of 100 animals on our mountainous property the grass does not last very long. When it comes time to start feeding hay as the snow falls and the grasses wilt, it is much easier and safer terrain out at Bob’s farm. Wintering the horses in a 20-acre pasture with trees for shelter, a heated water tank and fresh chopped hay everyday, our horses live the life in the winter.

Bob Borgan taking care of the horses this Spring in the Flathead Valley, Montana
horses with big mnt in back
Bob’s property in Creston has beautiful views of the Whitefish Ski Resort also known as Big Mountain
Mini Mules and Donkey
Louanne has been taking very good care of these little guys all winter

That is until spring hoof trimming comes along. During operating season we shoe our horses on a 6-8 week schedule to keep them balanced and prevent soreness. During the winter we go a little longer between calling the farrier as the shoes are pulled and the horses naturally wear down their hooves. Sometime during mid February to early March, we will catch all the horses at Bob’s and trim their hooves.

Horse getting hoof trimmed
Trimming over 100 horses hooves is quite the spring project, taking 4 full days to complete

Spring has now sprung on us here at the ranch and Elizabeth and Garrett have returned for yet another season. This season these two southern characters are going to divide up the barn duties and look to expand on our offerings. This summer we look to take advantage of our expanding lesson program as well as some new trail ride options. The details will have to be kept under wraps and be a surprise when you arrive!

Howdy Ya’ll! Liz and Garrett are very excited to welcome back all our guests and meet new ones

Spring projects are in full force right now as the fencing maze around the barn and pastures have changed their look a bit. The pastures behind the barn have finally received their rightful split rail wood fencing to match, while the fence running along the pond road has been replaced after 20 years in use. It didn’t stop there as the alley leading to the feed lot is all new wood fence as well and while we were at it, we just tackled restructuring the pastures with some new metal and wire fencing that should last for many generations of lodge horses to come!

Wrangler Garrett making sure the new fence is level

A month or so ago, we found some new friends for the herd, Violet and Rose. They are our new sorrel Molly Mules. Drive, ride, or pack them and they are happy to serve. With the most genuine personalities in a four-legged friend, these two mules love their ears and chins scratched. In fact, do it long enough and they might just cave to using your shoulder as a headrest, don’t mind their heads they are rather large.

Violet learning the trails while taking in the beautiful views above Flathead Lake
Rose loves apples and her ears scratched! Make sure to stop by and meet her
Rose and Violet enjoying their new home in Bigfork, Montana at the Lodge. They have become great friends with Oz, Kahleesi, Forrest and Cannon!

Last but surely not least. This season we are proud to finally serve the public a little more. We will be offering three different length daily trail rides, 1 hour, 2 hour and a 3 hour ride that will make it into our elk preserve. The shorter rides will experience our Overlook of Flathead Lake as well as some other familiar terrain to our guests. This program will run June through September and is structured to co-exist with the lodge barn riding program. With the rides limited to a max of 10-14 and leaving from our Cliff House Stable, we look forward to this new endeavor.

Public Daily Trail Rides Starting this June. Enjoy the most spectacular views of Flathead Lake via horseback



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Sailing Into Our 70th Summer

It has been over 10 years since the Questa has sailed Flathead Lake. This summer we will be launching the Questa back into the water to rejoin its sister ship, the Nor’Easter V.

The Questa and Nor’Easter sailing on Flathead Lake in Bigfork, Montana.

Both the Questa and Nor’Easter V are Q-class boats, which are built to the standard set for racing in the America’s Cup. These Q class boats were built following a formula developed by Nathanael Herreshoff in 1903, first called Herreshoff Rule, only later to set the standard for the Universal Rule, the qualifying rule for the America’s Cup. Both Questa and Nor’easter V were drawn by L. Francis Herreshoff, the son of Nathanael and would end up being the only two Qs he designed. L. Francis Herreshoff would complete the builds of his design for the Nor’Easter V in 1928 and Questa in 1929. Today there are only 16 Q-class boats in restored condition worldwide with the Nor’ Easter being the winningest boat in the Great Mackinac Island Race.
It’s a long way from Long Island Sound and Marblehead, Massachusetts, where the class started, to Flathead Lake, and it all began 28 years ago while Doug was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, building flight time for his pilot’s license. He happened to strike up a conversation with a Gentleman named Bob in a yacht club that he says went like this:
Bob: “Gee, I wish I could afford going to Montana to hunt deer, but not until I am able to get rid of this old boat.”
Doug: “Old boat? What old boat?”
Bob: “I have this dilapidated old racing sloop.”
Doug: “How bad is it?” I’ve been thinking about buying a sailboat for the lake at my guest ranch near Glacier National Park.”
Before the night was over, Doug agreed to buy the boat if the Bob would haul it to Flathead Lake. In return, Bob would receive the Montana hunting trip he had always dreamt about.
The Questa was not quite as bad as Doug had feared. With a bit of cosmetic attention made it possible to launch her that summer with a crane from a cow pasture next to the Flathead River. By 1989, the Questa was put in the shop for a structural restoration, not an easy undertaking considering the proximity of Montana to the closest ocean and capable shipwrights.
The Questa and Nor’easter raced for many summers and in 2005 the Questa went back to the shop for a new deck, house, sheer plank and structural reinforcement of the mast step. This summer, the Lodge’s 70th year, the Questa will again join the Nor’Easter sailing Flathead Lake.

The Questa dry docked while she was being restored.
The hull of the Questa
Scott applying one of the fifteen coats of varnish.
Scott reinforcing the hull of the Questa.

Shipwright, John Derry has been maintaining the Nor’Easter and the Questa for over 20 years now. John started his career in carpentry and mason work, but soon found himself fascinated with the dynamic make up of boats. John gained most of his knowledge working on the coast of Maine in his two year apprenticeship. Following his time in school he worked at numerous ship yards along the Coast. In the late 80’s he came back to Montana and found the Questa through a friend that had gone on a sail earlier that summer. John visited the Lodge in the fall of 88’, but it wasn’t until the following summer and a post card to Doug asking if he could trade out sailing time for labor, did he start working.
Still to this day John is astonished and extremely proud of what the Nor’Easter and Questa have become. Over the years John along with his crew have not only completely refurbished the sailboats, but they have made the Questa stronger than it was when it was originally built in 1929.

John on boat
John fitting one of the hatches on the Questa.

Every winter both boats get a fresh coat of paint, 15 coats of varnish, rigging fixes and updates to any other parts that may have worn over the course of the summer.
Depending on lake levels, but typically the second week in June we bring in a crane to lower the sail boats into the water and raise the masts. There is only one crane in this part of the state capable of launching the boats, and to this day only two operators, a son a father who have taken on the challenge. Although it only takes a few hours to get the boats in the water, it can take up to a week before the boats wooden structures swell up closing the many leaking cracks. This time is also used making sure all the rigging is in its proper places.

The only crane in this part of North West Montana capable of launching the boats, and to this day the only two operators, a son a father who have taken on the challenge.
It can take up to a week before the boats wooden structures swell up closing the many leaking cracks.
Securing all the rigging on the Nor’Easter.
Scott hoisting Arianna to the top of the main mast to secure the rigging.
lake north shore
With the Lake level being lowered in the winter it creates a huge sand beach on the north end of the lake in Bigfork.
Flathead Lake, Bigfork Montana.

According to the Flathead Lake Biological Center, “The Lake level and its outflow are regulated by Kerr Dam, which is located on the Lower Flathead River near Polson. Kerr Dam was completed in 1938 by the Montana Power Company, raised the Lake level 10 feet above its natural level, and generates 194 megawatts of electricity. It is cooperatively operated by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Regulation by the dam results in the Lake level fluctuating seasonally 10 feet between 2,883 and 2,893 feet above sea level. If snowpack conditions in the mountains do not threaten flooding, lake level is brought to 2,890 feet by the end of May and to full pool by June 15 for summer recreation.
Due to its large volume and fetch (distance of water across which wind blows), Flathead Lake requires very cold and calm conditions to freeze entirely. Therefore, most winters it does not freeze over, although some bays and margins have ice cover. The biological station’s historic observations show that the Lake froze over about once each decade, however the Lake has not entirely frozen since 1988-89 (March only) and 1989-90 (January only).” Flathead Lake is 27.3 miles long, 15.5 miles wide and 370.7 feet deep.

After many years of hard work and dedication we are extremely excited to get the Questa back in the lake. We would love to have you and your friends and family come sail the Nor’Easter or Questa. Check out flatheadlakesailing.com for more information and to book your Flathead Lake Excursion.

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