Updated: 06/26/2014 10:42 PM
Created: 06/26/2014 9:22 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson
Most people have heard of adventurers biking across the country, but how about doing it on horseback? One woman and her two horses stopped in the Northland this week while traveling through on her 8,000-mile ride around the U.S. and Canada.
"I'm actually just doing the same thing I did when I was a little girl... riding around on a horse."
Bernice Ende grew up on a small farm in Minnesota. She now lives in Montana as a retired ballet teacher, but the trail is where she calls home.
Over the past 10 years, she's traveled more than 21,000 miles on horseback. This April, she set off on her latest journey, which she said will take two and a half years.
Her traveling companions are two Norwegian Fjord horses, Essie Pearl and Montana Spirit. Her dog used to sit atop the pack horse on trips, but at 14 years old, Claire Dog stayed home this ride.
This week, the team rested in Iron River, Wisconsin. They typically do 30 miles a day. Ende camps, sleeping outside every night with her horses.
Consequently, the team ends up going through hundreds of towns, but Ende said Iron River is special.
"It doesn't happen like this everywhere I go, but this was a blue-ribbon community," she said.
'Blue-ribbon community' for Ende means the people are downright friendly. Police Chief Scot Eisenhauer was one of the first to welcome Ende and her horses to town.
"It was certainly an early summer surprise, we didn't' expect it. We've learned a lot of good stories of Bernice's travels," said the chief.
Her travels have spanned a decade, and Ende said she has come a long way. She's learned to deal with all of Mother Nature's obstacles, such as bad weather.
"You know as soon as it's over, as soon as I crossed that crisis, it's like, 'do you wanna stop?' No, I'm just getting good at it!" she said.
Going on these long rides was never a dream of Ende's, but she took a leap of faith and fell in love with traveling the country with her horses.
Ende doesn't ride with a mission, she simply hopes to inspire other women to challenge themselves and to spread the message, "that there really are good people anywhere you go. You will meet good people if you just have trust and faith."
Ende will head to Iron River, Michigan Friday. Prior to stopping in Iron River, Wisconsin, Ende was in Moose Lake.
To learn more about her journeys, go to her website, Ende of the Trail.
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