Triple Creek Ranch Klicks for Chicks Women’s Horseback Ride

Triple Creek Ranch

Triple Creek Ranch Klicks for Chicks Women’s Horseback Ride

Recipe for Women’s High Adventure
Triple Creek Ranch Blends a Dash of Excitement, a Pinch of Merriment and a Sprinkling of Wonderment!
by Viv Chapleo and Jill Hoelting

Triple Creek Ranch Klicks for Chicks Women’s Horseback Ride

Take twelve adventurous and spirited women, combine with nimble-footed equine athletes, add luxurious and elegant cabins, stir in gourmet cuisine, infuse laughter and camaraderie, blend vigorously for five glorious life-changing days, and voila ~ the outcome is the most exciting women-only horse riding adventure the Northwest has to offer.

Barbara Barrett, Owner of Triple Creek Ranch

Barbara Barrett, Owner of Triple Creek Ranch

Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana invited WAVEJourney to participate in a one-of-a-kind women’s horseback riding adventure, the inaugural “100 Klicks for Chicks” (100 kilometers/klicks = 62 miles) endurance ride. Triple Creek Ranch owner, Barbara Barrett, dreamed of taking the concept of the men’s 100-mile Desert Caballeros horse ride in Arizona (now in its 65TH year) and giving it the “Triple Creek twist”.

Barbara conjured up a much more civilized, luxurious and gourmet version, while still keeping with the spirit of the intrepid and like-minded women that this ride would draw from far and wide. General Manager, Leslie McConnell, then took the reins and set the wheels in motion to produce a riding experience that would be deserving of any adventurous horsewoman’s bucket list. After all, we women are too savvy to want to camp out, sleep in a cowboy bedroll for 5 nights and eat only camp food made for the masses. We women want our high adventure by day, a world-class meal at night, a hot tub to soak our weary bones while sipping our beverage of choice, and a comfy and cozy bed to lull ourselves to sleep while dreaming of beautiful horses, majestic mountains and that delectable caramel hazelnut torte we devoured at dinner.

The Ranch

Triple Creek Ranch

Triple Creek Ranch


Triple Creek is by far not just any ordinary guest ranch, but a  member of the esteemed and exclusive Relais & Chateaux collection of  the world’s finest hotels and restaurants.

This all-inclusive luxury ranch provides superlative service, gourmet dining, house cocktails and house wines, as well as, use of all ranch facilities, fly-fishing lessons, tennis, fitness center and more.

The friendly, competent and professional crew pay special attention to even the smallest details, like fresh-baked cookies, fresh fruit, and homemade trail mix placed in cabins each afternoon.

Castle Rock Cabin

Castle Rock Cabin

Situated in a relaxing and impressive natural environment at the foot of Trapper Peak in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, ranch guests will often times catch a glimpse of elk grazing in the meadows, bald eagles soaring high above and turkeys lazily wandering between cabins.

Day 1
Our all-female group was comprised of 10 enthusiastic and diverse horsewomen (2 Canadians and 8 Americans) and complemented with 2 wranglers, coincidentally both named Kristen (affectionately nicknamed K-1 & K-2).

As we all come from far and wide, our compadres that had chosen to arrive a day earlier were able to cowgirl-up for the first warm-up ride, a 10 klicks (6 mile) outing from the ranch. Those of us that arrived too late for the warm-up ride had the liberty to spend the afternoon leisurely exploring the ranch and savoring our luxury cabins until the cocktail get-together at the Rooftop Lounge.

Jimmy Harrison Hats

Jimmy Harrison Double H Hats

During cocktail hour, we were thrilled to meet Darby’s local Master Hatter, Jimmy Harrison, from Double H Hats. Jimmy “the hat man” had brought an impressive display of his custom handmade western felted-fur hats and beautifully crafted belts. Each of us enthusiastically tried on numerous hat styles to find our perfect adornment, resulting in custom orders from some of the group.

Following cocktails, fellow riders joined spouses for a scrumptious 4-course gourmet dinner. While the wine flowed freely over the course of  the evening, we satiated our appetites. Exciting and convivial conversation emanated, cultivating the female bonding process.

Although reluctant to break up the soiree, eventually it was time for me to conclude the evening, retire to my cabin and wind-down in front of the roaring fireplace with my night cap before drifting off to peaceful slumber.

Day 2
Following a delightful breakfast of fresh-baked pastries, seasonal fruit, made-to-order hot menu items, juices, coffee & tea in the dining room, cowgirls united at the main lodge for a 30-minute drive to the trailhead to join our steeds for the day. Wranglers had gone ahead, trailering the horses to our meet-up point and readied them for us to mount once we joined up.

Riding to Tin Cup Lake

Riding to Tin Cup Lake

Today’s ride was going to be our longest, 34 klicks (21 miles), to Tin Cup Lake in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Our ride would have a gradual ascent of 2,000 feet elevation gain before arriving at the trout-filled sub-alpine lake sitting at 6,200 feet above sea level.

Our 3.5 hour ride to the lake, crossed Tin Cup Creek, a wide mountain stream, three times. Jagged peaks of the Bitterroot Mountains filled our vistas as we riders continued getting to know each other and shared life experiences. All the while our sure-footed mounts provided a calm, yet energetic pace as we made our way along the trail. The higher we rode, the cooler the weather became and eventually we were riding through a beautiful snow-covered forest before arriving at the lake. All the way to our destination the wranglers ensured that we stayed warm, dry, hydrated and comfortable.

Tin Cup Lake

Tin Cup Lake

Arriving at Tin Cup Lake we were awed by the surrounding panorama, snow-clad and immense. Greeting us was a Triple Creek Ranch crew that had taken a pack team up to the lake the day before and set-up camp in order to prepare a gourmet wilderness lunch. Complete with printed menus and cloth napkins, the ensuing 4-course mouth-wateringly yummy lunch far exceeded anybody’s expectations and with something to please every palate we chowed down around the campfire.

Venison Stew

Venison Stew

Seared rainbow trout with lobster and fresh corn sauce, venison stew with homemade biscuits, Vermont quail with grapes, vegetable mac & cheese, huckleberry & apple cobbler, and chocolate pistachio cookies quickly quieted our repartee as snow softly fell around us.

After a leisurely lunch and group photos by the lake, it was time to return to our assigned horses and make the descent back down the same trail to the trailhead. The return ride was at a much more brisk pace as the horses were eager to be back at the trailers and have their work day be over. The scenery was just as spectacular and quite different being viewed from the reverse direction.

Viv and Cole

Viv and Cole

While in my past life I was a skilled and proficient horse rider that lived in the saddle, these days my equestrian outings are extremely limited and on those far too infrequent (once every few years) occasions, I have yet to spend more than two hours in the saddle on any given day. So, upon arriving back at the trailers my four-legged friend, Cole, stood patiently while I not so elegantly slid from his back, allowing K-2 to take care of him while I stood bow-legged in the same spot for what seemed an eternity until the circulation returned to my legs. This was going to be a night when I would so need to soak in my cabin’s indoor hot tub.

What an exhilarating ride. What heart-stirring scenery. What a delish lunch. What an extraordinary group of compatible women!

Once back at the ranch I had a hankering for an Irish coffee. No problem. With a visit to the Rooftop Lounge, the barman ensured my needs were met within minutes and a very satisfying hot beverage energized me enough for my golf cart ride back to my cabin. First things first, pour a glass of wine while drawing a bath to soak away the day’s aches and pains before dinner.

Delicious Dining at Triple Creek Ranch

Delicious Dining at Triple Creek Ranch

Dinner brought our group of women and their spouses back together to share another gastronomist-pleasing 4-course meal and titillating conversation. By this point, we were truly one united posse of cowgirls loving every minute of this momentous experience that had connected us.

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