Riders move cattle through canyon Friday, ahead of approaching storm


Joanna Markell, Yakima Herald-Republic (WA)

Feb 8, 2019


YAKIMA CANYON — Riders on horseback gently encouraged about 240 cows down Burbank Creek Road to Mount Baldy Ranch on the Yakima Canyon Road before the snow hit Friday.


The sounds of “hey, hey” from cowboys and the neigh of horses echoed over the snow-covered canyon walls as the pregnant cows were moved before calving. The Stingley and Eaton families coordinated the effort, guiding the cows on horseback.


The annual cattle drive through the Yakima Canyon originally was slated to take place Saturday, but it was moved to Friday morning to avoid an approaching storm and the resulting extra traffic diverted into the canyon from Interstate 82. Drivers often take the canyon as an alternative to I-82 in bad weather.


Jack Eaton, 91, who joined the drive in a pickup truck, said he’s been involved in the cattle drive for the past 20 years. He said his family is slowly phasing out its involvement — turning over the reins to others, so to speak.


The riders try to travel slowly so the cattle aren’t too tired, Eaton said. The ranchers were able to gather most of the cattle for the drive Friday, with a few staying back that will be moved by trailer.


“We decided to go a day earlier because of the weather,” Eaton said during a stop at the Big Pines Recreation Site. “We gathered them yesterday.”


Heavy snow isn’t ideal for calving, but the ranchers will pack it down and provide feed to make things easier, he said.


The cattle drive typically draws dozens of spectators who gather along the canyon road to watch the five-mile procession, a vestige of the Old West. Far fewer people showed up this year because of the date change and weather. That was fine by Dianne LaBissoniere, Becky Blair and Aram Langhans of Yakima, who stationed themselves at Big Pines to take photos. They are part of the Cascadian Camera Club.


“There are usually a lot more of us,” said LaBissoniere...