Peace and renewal await at Echo Valley Ranch in British Columbia

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Relax! Our responsibilities, work, and deadlines are left to work while on vacation. right?

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But, after a two-week vacation, have you ever gone back to your office and found that the tension returned within a few hours?

I feel like you never left.

If you’re looking for a vacation to rejuvenate and relax – away from the tourists taking selfies or the vendors selling their wares, consider heading to a remote part of British Columbia.

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa (evranch.com) is located five hours north of Vancouver and 2.5 hours west of Kamloops. Even driving from Kamloops Airport has a calming effect. It doesn’t take long before the airport, towns and busy city life are left behind.

From a moving vehicle, rugged hills covered with sage trees recreate visions from a Western movie. The landscape is forever changing. The Marble Range, located west of Clinton, on the southwestern edge of the Caribou Plateau, quickly draws your eye to the twisting colors of the various rock formations. It is a natural artwork on display.

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Highway 97 that runs through this area is also known as the Gold Rush Trail and that was in the late 1890s. The scene includes bighorn sheep, black and brown bears with cubs in diameter, wild (feral) horses, and cattle scattered among huge cedars, fir, Douglas fir, and dogwood.

Upon arrival, the staff greets customers like they are an old friend. The farm is not about corporate initiatives, but rather looking for ways to take some of your hard-earned dollars. There is no gift shop with expensive goods or cowboy hats and boots on site. Instead, the farm is for you to fulfill your spiritual needs – effects that last long after you return home.

Dinner is farmhouse style, like a scene from Bonanza. Everyone eats together (if desired) at a long table, where the chef cooks according to your culinary tastes. Chicken, fish, vegetarian or beef? Jasen Gauthier describes himself as a West Coast chef.

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“Everyone on the West Coast has the same style, and it’s light, seasonal, and local,” Gauthier said. “We use a lot more vinegar and olive oils — and less butter.”

Chef Jacin Gauthier says Echo Valley’s meals are “light, seasonal, and local.” Veronica Henry / The Toronto Sun

Carrot soup with Jamaican spices, beef, watercress, pea sprouts and goat cheese greens, peeled sable with warm vegetable salad, and tomato vinegar, along with desserts of your choice on our dinner menu. Bottom-less alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks are available, before you head to your cabin for a well-deserved snooze. If the timing is right, grab a pair of binoculars and look at the many bears wandering in the distance.

Cabins are spread out near the pool, gym, game room and dining area. Horse barn, along with pet Lucky Pig pen, and vegetable garden nearby.

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Your home on the farm, immersed in luxury.

Target the Echo Valley Ranch shooting range.
Target the Echo Valley Ranch shooting range.

There are more than ten activities available for guests. Hiking or cycling trails are easily accessible. Archery and shooting range offer something different to learners. Yoga, meditation and spa classes offer ways to relax.

Various programs such as Horse Harmony, Canyon Connection, or Survival Spirit are great ways to connect with nature. And immigrants are always ready to take guests on horseback along the mountain ridges.

At many resorts, you are handed the reins, saddle up and ride. Here, racers want you to communicate with your horse before you ride it.

Communication with the horses is part of the experience at Echo Valley Ranch.  Veronica Henry / The Toronto Sun
Communication with the horses is part of the experience at Echo Valley Ranch. Veronica Henry / The Toronto Sun

“Instead of acting like a bike that you pull off a rack and jump on, you get to get to know them a little bit, see what they do, how they work. I think that’s nicer for a horse,” said Wrangler Michael Christensen.

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Respect for the animal is part of their care for horses. In the barn, techniques like turning your horse over without touching it (it’s magic) bring the jockey and the horse together. During another exercise, you drop the bridle, and the horse continues to walk alongside it. The horse has now put its trust in your ability to control the ride. This is followed by a certain sense of responsibility and appreciation.

Wrangler Emily Sparks explains, “The energy you give to your horse is the same as the energy you get from it.” “If you go riding with a positive attitude, the horse accepts that, and you know you will have an excellent ride that day.”

Communication with horses reflects the philosophy of Echo Valley Ranch.  Veronica Henry / The Toronto Sun
Communication with horses reflects the philosophy of Echo Valley Ranch. Veronica Henry / The Toronto Sun

This association with horses is symbolic as it reflects the philosophy of the Echo Valley Ranch. On this farm, staying calm, connecting with nature and living in the moment becomes part of the experience.

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Spirit of Survival Activity is the reader’s condensed version of how to survive in the wilderness. Once a student in the local Aboriginal community, our guide Daryl points out several edible plants, explains how to build a survival kit and how to pack survival kits before heading out into the wild. Toilet paper is at the top of the list, which includes items like flint for a campfire, gloves, a flashlight, a knife, a trash bag for sleeping or to protect you from the rain, and some beef jerky that will last a lifetime.

The toilet paper roll is a staple in the Survival Spirit activity suite.  Veronica Henry / The Toronto Sun
The toilet paper roll is a staple in the Survival Spirit activity suite. Veronica Henry / The Toronto Sun

Darrel also drives the Canyon Connection Expedition and guides you through the history of the Gold Rush as you cruise down the sprawling Fraser River through majestic rapids. Guests can scavenge for gold if conditions are right.

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The Echo Valley Ranch & Spa is all about experiencing nature, relaxation and rejuvenation. Ending your day with a prompt mediation class is peaceful and rewarding. Learning to mediate is truly an experience that has lasting rewards because it is a gift that you can take home with you.

Intermediate hats comfortable ranch experience.  Veronica Henry / The Toronto Sun
Intermediate hats comfortable ranch experience. Veronica Henry / The Toronto Sun

Whatever activity or adventure you choose to engage in on the farm, it really is a personal choice, but the best part is that nature reigns in this refreshing, non-commercial environment.

When you get home and find yourself at work, your vacation stays with you because it has become a part of who you are and not just a distant memory.

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