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259 Days at the Ranch

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Fenja and Windy at Spruce Meadows

On July 12th, 2017, my transformational journey to the ranch began and a new chapter of my life was about to be written. The application process in February has determined my future, answering the questionnaires, creating my Mission Statement and identifying my interests and goals at the ranch prepared me for everything that was about to come.

I decided to come to the ranch to do an internship in business management, but not the ordinary internship, it had to be more than just going over paperwork in the office and making coffee, I wanted something that would establish my values and make experience personal growth. “Life begins out of your comfort zone” – this was exactly what I needed.

Believe it or not, during my first week at the ranch I cried every day. I thought about going home and every time the shuttle would pick up another staff member I cried again because I wanted to leave too. Everything was so overwhelming for me, that I couldn’t process what was going on. Another staff member told me that she went through exactly the same and that I just needed to “get over the hump” – and she was right. After 8 months at the ranch I made the experience that it takes everyone at least two weeks to get comfortable with the daily challenges that you have to overcome.

Every day was a first-time experience. First time in the office, first time answering E-Mails, first time taking the phone (oh, how much I hated that in the beginning!), first time mountain riding. Everything threw me into the deep-end, and it continued for the whole 8 months I was at the ranch.
There are plenty of things I experienced during this time that I never thought I would be able to do, such as running the chainsaw, vetting horses, driving the tractor, shoeing horses, shooting a gun, managing the office and the kitchen, live in a tent, share my home with 15 other staff, guiding pack trips and assisting on the guide school; only to name a few.

Without knowing, I didn’t come to the ranch for my office internship, I was searching for something decisive: My purpose. I’ve always been drawn to nature, but during the past three years that I spent in front of the computer I lost my connection. I couldn’t find meaning and passion for my past job and decided to change my life. My first trip into the mountains was like an eye-opener and I knew my purpose was to stand in for nature. Ever since, I feel determined, focused and passionate for my future studies in environmental management.

I’ve learned invaluable lessons within my time at the ranch. I had to deal with people, in the office and in our little community, which I always struggled with. I learned that caring for a positive environment is the number one priority, for personal and work space. I learned to see the value in things that are not materialistic, such as experience, failure and success. I learned how to prioritize my goals and manage my time. I learned how to plan the accomplishment of my goals by going through a certain process, over and over. This process keeps me focused on my future plans.
When I look back on my journey, my personal transformation has exceeded my expectations. I’ve gone from fearful to independent, insecure to confident, unstable to determined, uncreative to inspired and I found purpose in my former meaningless life.

Within 259 days at the ranch I saw 39 staff members coming through, I had the opportunity to guide on 7 Pack Trips and 2 Guide Schools, went to 4 different Alpine Camps, rode 17 of our amazing horses, guided 23 guests and wrote approximately 4659 E-Mails.

If I was to name my personal highlights, it gets tough, because every day was special. Guiding people into the wilderness was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever made and I learned that I love sharing my passion for nature. Shoeing horses, because my family and my friends will never believe me I did that. Spotting Mountain Goats so close, that you can hear the babies talking to their nannies. A Grizzly at 30 meters distance, grazing in the meadow next to the horses. A Grizzly mum and her cub hunting for goats behind Eldorado Camp. My first ever Moose. Wild harvest meals with Indian Ice cream, Wild Onions and Saskatoon Berries. The views on top of the Ridge Trail and Open heart. Fields of yellow wildflowers at Spruce Lake. Finding Mowson in the deep snow just in time before the winter. Strawberry’s last moments on earth. Riding the horses back to the ranch in total darkness. Wolf hauling in the cold winter nights. Pushing my limits to the very last day.

I want to thank Chilcotin Holidays for facilitating all the opportunities I had at the ranch and my staff members that made my time at the ranch so special and supported me in achieving my goals – everyone in their own way. I’m leaving with one eye smiling and one eye crying – but I know that this is not the end of my journey and I will be back to explore more of the beautiful South Chilcotin Mountains.

Fenja, Germany