The Outpost at Warden Rock
24.04.2012 - 30.04.2012
We thought maybe we should explain to everyone what we are actually doing this summer, for those of you who don't know!
So WWOOF [World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, http://www.wwoof.ca/] is an international program, encouraging people to travel who have a desire to learn more about the lifestyle and culture of the area they choose to visit. We have chosen to stay at 6 different locations across Western Canada, all of which have active ranches / farms / wineries / bakeries / other small businesses. In exchange for working around 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, we are able to live with the family, and eat with them. Also, on our evenings and weekends off, the hosts usually spend time to teach the WWOOFers about the area, and take them on adventures that average traveler is unaware of. Having said that, our first stop of the summer was a two week stay at the Outpost at Warden Rock- a guest ranch nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, just above Banff National Park. To check out what we did there....keep reading!
We started our summer by totally leaving civilization and entering the mountains. The Outpost is " a remote backcountry lodge nestled in the majestic Canadian Rockies, bordering Banff National Park...with over 30 years of experience in mountain horseback riding, guiding and outfitting, we provide both a memorable and safe authentic western horseback vacation packages, perfect for riders and non-riders alike..." UNREAL!
Our stay at the Outpost was during their early season, meaning that there were no guests or their full herd of horses at the ranch. However, this meant that we could bunk in the cozy cabins, and have the full attention of our hosts! One of the 'features' of lodging in the mountains is a lack of connection to the outside world, no electricity or cell phone service....let alone internet!
We had arranged with Julie [a co-owner of the Outpost, to meet in Sundre] in the afternoon, so we could follow her to where we could park the car during our stay [at this point we had no idea what we were in for]. This is where we met 'Coco' a 19 year old German WWOOFer who we got to spend the following two weeks with! Julie took one look at our car 'Gerry' and chuckled, reassuring us that we 'should be able' to make it in. Julie led the way through the winding mountainous road. As we followed her dusty trail, we experienced an amazing safari [Canadian style] including wild horses, elk, and the Rocky Mountains themselves!!! Just over an hour later we arrived at the end of the dirt/ gravel/ rock/ mud/ washed out/ borderline deadly road to the Big Horn campground where we parked Gerry. When we arrived there was a team of draft horses waiting, harnessed to a stage coach [our only mode of transportation]. Without a doubt, the initial ride into the Outpost was the highlight of our stay. After 1.5 hrs (10 miles) and a climb to 5500 ft ASL we finally arrived!!
A typical day at the Outpost during our first week looks a little like this:
Sun Rise [7:00am....ish....we think, we didn't have a clock] - Wake up call [Coco knocking on our door, "GOOD MORNING, WAKE UP!"
7:45am [Emma & Emma] - stoke the lodge fire, and start the kettles for Cowboy Coffee [aka mud in a cup, delicious nonetheless]
7:45am [Coco] - feed the horses
8:30am - breakfast is served, usually a feast consisting of bacon, eggs, toast, potatoes, chocolate [within the first two hours of our arrival, we discovered a massive **we're talking massive** jar of chocolate chips], peanut butter, and Cowboy Coffee(s)
9:00am - Safety Meeting [aka lessons from Tim- the head cowboy, regarding horsemanship, the difference between a real Cowboy and a Wannabe, and local wild life such as Timber wolves as tall as our rib cages, cougars, grizzly bears, mosquitos that we can shoot with a shot gun, bats and other rodents such as pack rats, mice etc]
10:00am - 'catch' the horses and bring them into the stable, where we give them grain and some serious TLC [brushing, brushing, horse whispering, and more brushing....they're dappling now that they have had the double Emma treatment]
11:00am - shovel shit [exactly what it sounds like]
11:30am - Safety Meeting [Cowboy Coffee, snacking on homemade trail mix.......recipe = 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 nuts, 2 cups chocolate chips... serves one]
12:30pm - Lunch is served....usually soup, sandwiches, Cowboy Coffee, various dinner leftovers, toast, chocolate, peanut butter, chocolate, etc.
1:30pm - some of the following: chopping / collecting firewood, stoking the fires around the ranch, pumping water for the shower and water troughs, driving the horses, discussions about dinner, general cleaning, feeding the horses, practicing our knot tying skills with our eyes closed [shouldn't have dropped out of Girl Guides]
3:30pm - Safety Meeting [reading, Cowboy Coffee]
5:30pm - dinner is served, the ranch diet strictly prohibits meals that do not include red meat, therefore each dinner was very hearty...we're pretty creative so we successfully prepared meals meeting all of the requirements.....Tim approved!
6:15pm - HIKE! We never travelled the same route twice, despite the many trails throughout the area, we often found ourselves bush-wackin' it....always confident that if we got lost, we could simply scope out Warden Rock, and headed back in that direction...one of the many perks of living in the mountains! Each hike offered a spectacular view, there is something so amazing about being in the scene as opposed to looking at it in a magazine, from inside a car, on TV, etc.
8:30pm - shower [optional], post hike meal [chocolate, tea, picking at the dinner leftovers] and reading in the lodge until the pages were literally impossible to see [lack of lights]
Sun Down [10:00pm...ish...] - lights ...err...candles out, nestle into our cozy cabins [only cozy when the fire is stoked] and hit the sack!
the view from inside the stage coach during our trek into the Outpost
"we have three channels here: the Discovery channel, OLN, and Animal Planet, all in HD!"
Coco and us on our first hike!
Hard at work
One of our chocolate masterpieces