We did it all.
If someone would ask me where I have been this summer, the first thing that would come to mind would be: ‘I was in Eldorado!’.
Eldorado is a beautiful green valley and a camp in the South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park surrounded by wonderful mountains. In the 7 weeks that I was at Chilcotin Holidays this summer, I spent about 3 weeks in Eldorado. I completed my training there as a mentor guide and I also led a wildlife viewing horse pack trip with guests to this beautiful region. Although I had the same destination every time, each trip was different to the previous one. The nature changed, the seasons passed by and the guests changed as well.
When Charlotte and Cosima came to us, it was for a 4-day wildlife viewing pack trip wilderness experience. As a Chilcotin Holidays mentor guide, you always strive to create the best possible experience for your guests. Maaike, the other mentor guide and I took it very seriously. We planned everything meticulously, trying to make the most of the short time.
Which horses should we take? How should we take care of the horses? When should we take which trails? Which menu plan was the best to offer the best possible comfort to the guests and at the same time be the least burden to the horses who had to carry the weight? And so on…
But we always kept in mind there are still a few things you can never plan. Nature is unpredictable. When the two sisters finally arrived, we got along well from the very first second. After the River ride, where the girls got to know their horses and equipment, the next day started early. We started saddling and packing the horses for the long ride to Eldorado at 6 am. Because they were really interested and always in a good mood, it was real fun explaining and showing them everything.
On our ride I noticed that we all shared a fascination for nature. It is always nice to see how guests enjoy a ride you planned for them. Also our wildlife viewing was a success as we discovered some grizzly tracks on the way to camp and in the evening we could observe a mountain goat herd climbing up the rocks behind our cabin. We staked the horses together and enjoyed a wonderful dinner. Everything went perfectly.
When the weather got worse the next day, our mood still remained high. It was raining and it was still dark. But true to the motto: there is no bad weather, just the wrong equipment, we jumped into our rain gear. We also did not hesitate to get up at 4:30 in the morning to leave in time for sunrise. We did not want to stay in our comfort zone. (The cowboy coffee which we prepared over the fire helped though 🙂 ) Full of caffeine-boosted energy we got the horses from the pasture, saddled them and were ready to explore the mountains.
Despite everything, as a guide you are always a bit concerned when the weather takes a turn for the worst. How will the guests react? Are they still enjoying it? Do I have to be worried about their security?
All these thoughts circled in my head as we rode up the mountain peaks to the Ridge ride 2 hours after departure. The light drizzle down at the cabin became stronger as we got higher in elevation. The wind was blowing harder and harder. Sometimes I was really happy to be sitting on a 700kg horse so as not to be blown away too easily.
Even though I assessed the situation to be safe, I began to worry about whether Charlotte and Cosima felt insecure or if they were annoyed by the bad weather.
However, when I looked around, smiling happy faces were looking back at me, having the time of their lives. Immediately, I felt deeply acknowledged in my actions and grinned back. Our mood increased with the altitude as we climbed. And when we got to the top I felt a transformation, I was so happy and so alive as I haven’t for a long time.
To be honest, the view did not show the 360° panorama for which it is famous for. Just a glimpse now and then, when the clouds broke up. Then you could see all the mountain tops and the wild beauty around you. You could catch a glimpse through a window and suddenly you recognised that you were really standing on top of a mountain. The whole park was underneath your horse’s feet. And as suddenly as this breathtaking view appeared it was also gone the next second.
Everyone can download pictures of beautiful scenery. You can find it anywhere on the internet. Just a click away. But what we explored, was something different -something better! Just to feel the wind blowing around you and pulling your clothes. To feel the cold rain on your skin (the little part of your face which was not covered by raingear). To hear nothing but the wind in your ears and to see the clouds moving fast over the ridges, as if they are in a hurry. This is something you can‘t get easily on the internet.
We felt the pure power of nature in our little insignificant bodies. We felt such a big energy within us. Every one of us. The guides as well the guests. There was no difference between us. We were one team. And this experience bonded us together.
When we went back to have breakfast we were still glowing from the inside out. Suddenly the girls felt more secure on the horses, empowered to lead the group back to the cabin. We fed the horses, had a late breakfast and enjoyed the time together. Finally the weather got better again. So we prepared our horses, packed our gear and rode back down to the ranch. Eldorado Valley was stunning as always and I was glad that our guests could experience this wonderful region from all sides. And after all, we also had the wonderful luck to discover wildlife – a grizzly mother and her cub who we could observe for half an hour. I felt so incredibly happy for them to experience all that. Simply because this moment really brought this wonderful trip to perfection.
Every pack trip is different. But it is always an enrichment. The nature, which is just breathtakingly beautiful, the horses that give me an inner peace which is hard to beat and empowers me at the same time. The wonderful guests you meet and who you share these special moments with.
Charlotte and Cosima were no exception! Without knowing it, they already embodied everything the ranch stands for: Nature connection, conservation and self-development. Their incredibly positive mindset was contagious. I also learned so much from them. I was excited about how lovingly they cared for each and how they stuck together as a family. They also showed an incredible amount of energy and joy joining and sharing this great adventure with us, their guides.
Cosima and Charlotte: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this extraordinary trip!
We did it all!