Peace and rejuvenation await you at British Columbia’s Echo Valley Ranch

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Relax! Our responsibilities, chores and work deadlines are left behind during the holidays. Right?

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But, after two weeks of vacation, have you ever returned to your office and found that the stress was back in just a few hours?

It’s like you never left.

If you’re looking for a vacation that rejuvenates and relaxes – away from tourists taking selfies or vendors peddling their wares, consider a trip to a remote area of ​​British Columbia.

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

From a moving vehicle, the sparse, rugged hills covered in sage bushes bring back visions from a western movie. The landscape is constantly changing. Soon the Marble Range, located west of the town of Clinton at the southwest end of the Cariboo Plateau, catches your eye with the twisting colors of various rock formations. These are nature’s works of art on display.

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Highway 97 through this area is also known as the Gold Rush Trail and was just that in the late 1890s. The scenery includes bighorn sheep, black and brown bears with cubs, feral (wild) horses and domestic cattle scattered among the massive cedars, spruces, Douglas firs and dogwoods.

Upon arrival, the staff greets guests as if they were old friends. The farm isn’t about corporate initiatives, finding ways to take some of your hard-earned cash. No gift shops with overpriced goods, or cowboy hats and boots, are on-site. Instead, the ranch is meant to serve your spiritual needs – effects that last long after you return home.

The dinner is farmhouse style, like a scene from Bonanza. Everyone eats together (if desired) at a long table, with the chef cooking 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, which is lighthearted, seasonal and local,” Gauthier said. “We use a lot of salad dressing, olive oils – less butter.”

Echo Valley meals are “light, seasonal and local,” says chef Jasen Gauthier.  VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN
Echo Valley meals are “light, seasonal and local,” says chef Jasen Gauthier. VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN

Jamaican jerk spiced carrot soup, beef, arugula, pea shoots and goat cheese leaves, miso crusted sablefish with warm vegetable salad and tomato caper vinaigrette , as well as desserts of your choice are on the dinner menu. Bottomless alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are at your disposal, before heading to your cabin for a well-deserved siesta. If the time is right, grab a pair of binoculars and spot the many bears roaming in the distance.

The cabins are scattered not far from the swimming pool, gym, game room and dining room. The horse paddock, as well as the enclosure of Lucky the pet pig, and the vegetable garden are nearby.

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Your home on the ranch, immersed in luxury.

Aim for the Echo Valley Ranch Shooting Range.
Aim for the Echo Valley Ranch Shooting Range.

There are over a dozen activities available for guests. Hiking or mountain biking trails are easily accessible. Archery and a shooting range offer something different to learners. Yoga classes, meditation, and the spa offer ways to unwind.

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

At many resorts, you are given the reins, jump in the saddle and ride. Here the wranglers want you to connect with your horse before riding.

Connecting with the horses is part of the experience at Echo Valley Ranch.  VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN
Connecting with the horses is part of the experience at Echo Valley Ranch. VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN

“Instead of acting like it’s a bike that you take the rack off and jump on, you get to know them a bit, what they do and how it works. I think it’s more pleasant for the horse,” said wrangler Michael Christensen.

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Respect for the animal is part of the care given to horses. In the corral, techniques like turning your horse without touching it (it’s magic) bring rider and horse closer together. In another exercise, you drop the reins and the horse continues to walk alongside. The horse has now placed its trust in your ability to control the run. A sense of responsibility and appreciation ensues.

“The energy you give your horse is the same as the energy you get back,” says wrangler Emily Sparks. “If you go into the race with a positive attitude, the horse picks up on that and you know you’re going to have a great race that day.”

The connection with horses reflects the philosophy of Echo Valley Ranch.  VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN
The connection with horses reflects the philosophy of Echo Valley Ranch. VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN

This connection with horses is symbolic because it reflects the philosophy of Echo Valley Ranch. At this ranch, staying calm, connecting with nature, and living in the moment becomes part of the experience.

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The Survival Spirit activity is a reader-abbreviated version of how to survive in the wild. Once a student of the local Aboriginal community, our guide Darrel points out the many different edible plants, explains how to build a lean-to and how to pack a survival kit before heading out into the wilderness. Toilet paper is at the top of the list, which includes items such as a flint for starting a fire, gloves, a flashlight, a knife, a garbage bag for sleeping or protecting yourself from the rain, and beef dried that will last a lifetime. .

A roll of toilet paper is a key part of the Survival Spirit activity set.  VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN
A roll of toilet paper is a key part of the Survival Spirit activity set. VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN

Darrel also leads the Canyon Connection Expedition and guides you through gold rush history as you travel the vast Fraser River as it meanders through the majestic cliffs. Guests can pan for gold if conditions are met.

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

Mediation crowns a relaxing ranch experience.  VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN
Mediation crowns a relaxing ranch experience. VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN

Whatever activity or adventure you choose to participate in at the ranch is truly a personal choice, but the best part is that nature rules in this refreshing, non-corporate environment.

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

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