Riding The Range Of Backcountry
In an old family photo album, there’s a sepia picture of me at age six on a horse. I’m wearing a cowboy hat, chaps and a grin. The horse is sticking out his tongue. Today, I was riding the range of Backcountry in Lana’i. — Jeanette Valentine
More than four decades later, I mount a more dignified steed at The Stables at Ko’ele. A handsome, copper-colored quarter horse named Dallas has an easy gait that suits me just fine.
Stable Manager Cody Bradshaw leads a group of nine on horseback. I’m second from the last, with Stable Wrangler Tommy “Uncle” Urpanil bringing up the rear. The trail meanders through central Lana’i and continues north of downtown. We enter the Ironwood Forest, a corridor thick with pine trees so tall they block out the sun.
Our horses climb to elevations that offer sweeping vistas of the island. On clear days, you can see Maui in the distance. “I can ride up here 10 times a day, and it never gets old,” Cody says.
He leads us to the Red Wall, a large plateau with a picturesque view. Cody dismounts and arranges our horses in formation for photos, just like a cowboy Ansel Adams. He snaps pictures with each rider’s camera, memorializing the experience.
The 90-minute ride leaves me exhilarated, and thankfully, not sore. As we walk through the stable’s main hallway, Uncle Tommy offers to play his ukulele for us. My equestrian adventure ends with him serenading our group about his love for Lana’i. We all can relate.
The Stables at Ko’ele
Address: 1 Keomoku Highway, Lanai City, HI