The Eagle Lake Guest Ranch Story
It was 12 years ago in April that we packed up our extremely comfortable middle class life in one of the most sought after locations in BC, the Okanagan. We had fallen in love with the wild, remote and beautiful Chilcotin, specifically Eagle Lake Ranch.
Eagle Lake Guest Ranch is at the very end of a long and rugged dirt trail and depending on the season it is 7 kilometers of pot holes and dust, or water and mud, and the arm-strong steering 4 X 4 battle of snow. There was no power or no telephone and the closest neighbor is about 35 kilometers.
We were not the first to be caught with the Eagle Lake Guest Ranch dream; it was originally homesteaded in the 1960’s by the original owners, Lou and Doris Haines. They lived the first 4 years through winters of minus 50 below in a 12 foot holiday trailer! Lou and Doris built the first house log house; it is a work of art. Every detail in this house is done by the hands of two people, with no electricity, no power tools, only hard work. The house was designed similar to a teepee, 6 sides with a hand built fireplace in the centre for central heating. This is now our beautiful guest house, a true authentic Chilcotin home.
I can tell lots of stories of not enough hay, so we are selling the cows, but the stock trailer is stuck in ice halfway up its wheels, and the truck won’t start because it is too cold, the generator won’t start to plug the tractor in, or boost the batteries…. Cows are not worth anything at the auction. Buy hay….. not groceries.
The snow banks were so high the animals were just walking over the fences. When we went to feed, trapped in the ice fortress, everything out there is mooing, clucking, baaing and neighing under our feet. Of course the gates are all stuck, the wrong way. Funny, how the horses and mules can jump out, but they have to go back in by the gates? They stand and watch as we chip away the ice to get them open. Who’s running this show?
So what is it that keeps us here working longer and harder than we ever had, freezing winter after winter, struggling through the extreme elements to keep our cow herd growing?
When you drive down the driveway and the trees are covered with snow, the sunshine hits each and every snow flake and it is like a crystal tunnel. You know you are not alone, as you can see the well used trails in the snow of the moose, deer, cougar, rabbit and wolf.
The moon shines so bright the trees have shadows and the sky is a mass of stars. The swans fly over in the spring and fall on their migration route. We can spend the afternoon out on the crystal clear lake and not see another person. Each and every day brings the unexpected and there is always a small element of danger, be it wild animals or weather. Nothing is comfortable or normal, it is always a test and we have been challenged in every way.
Our three children have thrived, and frankly we could not have made it without their help. They were homeschooled until grade 10, but far more than just academics. They have learned to live without power and then build a complete alternative energy system, cook on a wood cook stove, fix and drive machinery and pull a calf when necessary. When our children leave the ranch, life will be cakewalk for them.
Our twelve years of work and dedication have paid off and we have carved out a beautiful piece of paradise. To find out more about Eagle Lake Guest Ranch, you can check out our photo galleries– Around the Guest House, Farm Stay Adventure, Lake Adventure and Wilderness Adventure. Better yet come for the full experience, stay in our lovely guesthouse and share some of our adventures.