NWHS Editor’s Note:
Alice Yancey, a Whatcom County, Washington, horsewoman, volunteer, and trail rider extraordinaire passed away on June 7, 2020. I first met Alice many years ago (at least 25) when we were both members of the Bellingham Riding Club (BRC). Alice, along with long-time best friend and partner Angie Schutte, was an outgoing and active member of both the BRC and Back Country Horsemen.
Alice Yancey worked as a nurse, and the professional skill of caring deeply for others spilled over into her personal life. Alice was never afraid to tell folks what she thought about an issue—even if it generated a few waves. She was always one to step up and help when needed. She (and Angie) were consistent in volunteering and working hard for those organizations they felt strongly about.
When my mother passed away in a horrible accident, Alice Yancey’s and Angie Schutte’s kindness and sympathy towards me and my family is something I still hold dear.
The following piece was written a few years ago by fellow Back Country Horseman member Dr. Sharon Hoofnagle in honor of these two women. Angie Schutte, now 94, is grieving Alice’s loss. She’s still an active member of Back Country Horsemen.
By Kim Roe
A Tribute to Two Horsewomen: Alice Ann Yancey and Angie Schutte
Whenever trails and horses are mentioned in Whatcom County, Alice Yancey’s and Angie Schutte’s names seem to pop up.
For many years Angie and Alice led the Bellingham Riding Club rides on their Tennessee Walkers. With friends they rode Excelsior Mountain, Hannegan Pass, and Schriebers Meadow. Many trips were made to Les Hilde trailhead in Skagit County. They knew the Heady Road trails like their back yard. They could also regularly be found on Blanchard, Galbraith, and Stewart Mountains (all Whatcom County trails).
Alice and Angie supported the MS Society for years by helping to put on a benefit ride at Silver Lake.
In 1986, Ron Mazza started contacting people about a new group called Back Country Horsemen.
Angie and Alice were at the first meeting, and it was quite a ride from there on. They were first to volunteer for just about anything. They cleared trails—Angie carrying a chain saw in on her mare, Candy. Many times at Heady Road they hiked in with the chain saw. They helped at almost every event—from flagging trails to getting auction items.
Alice was our BCHW of Whatcom County’s auctioneer in the early years. She was also always ready with the first aid kit if needed, and because of her work promoting helmets many people wear them now.
In 1986 Gene Gilbert offered a pack trip as a raffle prize. Alice and Angie won the raffle. That was their first trip into the Pasayten wilderness. Mack Johnson took a second group along too. We were slogging through a boggy meadow and obviously not on the correct trail. We asked our fearless leaders, Mack and Gene, if we were lost.
“No,” they replied, “We’re just in the wrong place. We want to be up there.” They pointed straight up a mountain. So, straight up the mountain we went, no trail, just switch-backing up the mountain. Letting the horses rest occasionally, we climbed and climbed. Alice was on her 22-year-old Sonny leading the way; Angie and Candy were right behind.
Nothing could top that first Pasayten ride, but more trips followed. The high country called, and Alice and Angie went. Spanish Camp, Remmel Lake, swimming in Upper Cathedral, and riding to the top of Amphitheater were all trails they explored. One morning a bull moose came through camp at Spanish Camp. Another time we watched deer come through Whistler Gap each evening. We rode to Quartz Lake and Dollar Watch.
And then there was the pack trip with Smoke Elsner into the Bob Marshall which was a thrill for Alice and Angie and their wonderful horses Rosie and Danny in the early years.
Alice’s Sonny was a horse in a million. When he wasn’t climbing mountains, he was dressed up in a costume for the Bellingham Riding club Halloween Show. And Angie’s Candy climbed the high mountains, led on the lowland trails, and produced a wonderful filly, Colie, who went into the Pasayten in her early years and never missed a beat on the front country trails. Candy also pulled a Meadowbrook cart.
You can’t think of trails and horses without thinking of Alice and Angie—good friends, good horses, and wonderful places. One warm spring day, we were sitting on a grassy slope looking at Mt. Baker. The horses rested behind us. We nibbled on one of Carol’s Coffee Cup’s famous cinnamon rolls and Angie quietly said, “Life doesn’t get a whole lot better than this.”
Alice and Angie have led a generation of riders. That generation will lead another, and our love for horses and the hills will go on for centuries. What a legacy to leave.
Article by Sharon Hoofnagle, DVM
Published in the September 2020 Issue:
Back Country Horsemen of Washington (BCHW), is a 501 (c) (3) organization with 32 chapters across the state dedicated to: keeping trails open for all users; educating horse users in Leave-No-Trace practices; and providing volunteer service to resource agencies.