Outdoor Program + Art and Music = Success!
Saturday morning the bus was packed and ready with an accordion, three guitars, sketchbooks, song books, audio recording equipment, sleeping bags, and riding clothes. Sixteen of us were headed out to Ekone Ranch in Goldendale Washington for a weekend of making, playing, singing, exploring and riding.
Ekone Ranch is 1060 acres of permanently protected forests, meadows and steppe at the edge of the Columbia River Gorge in south-central Washington State. An off-grid, non-profit, working ranch, home to year-round programming teaching sustainable living to children of all ages.
As soon as we passed the Dalles we left the rain behind and as we rolled down into the valley of the ranch the sun was out and we were surrounded by gorgeous fall colors. We made quick work of settling into the long house that would be our roost for the next two days, fluffing out our sleeping bags on platforms and up in lofts.
We were eager to explore the ranch and took some time to get the lay of the land, from the open air lodge/tack room to meeting all the animals (horses, pigeons, chickens, cats, and dogs, to finding our lunch hot and delicious where we fueled up for our adventures.
After lunch we split up. Some of us built forts in the woods. Some found and recorded sounds by banging on trees and finding instruments in nature. And others did plein aire painting and photography around the ranch. Later in the afternoon some of us rode horses bareback while Zach and Ian serenaded us from a nearby hillside.
We had an adventurous pre-dinner hike out to the burial ground, where they do organic burials the first of its kind in the nation. We got to the canyon rim and laid in the grass, taking in the colors and silence as the sun set.
We walked back in the dark trying to surprise one another all the way back to our hot dinner waiting for us.
After dinner we headed to the lodge, a huge hexagonal barn with a hole in the ceiling where we were met Rollean, a mountain man who made us a friction fire by spinning a dowel in his hands.
Out came the instruments. We had a xylophone, three guitars, a cowbell, maracas, and more drums than you could shake a stick at. We made a ruckus. From percussion jams, to a cappella singing, to sing alongs of everything from Angel from Montgomery, to La Bamba, to Under the Sea.
The night rolled on and we headed out into the darkness for some games and running around in what we later found to be a field with plenty of horse poop in it. Oh well, ranch life. Nothing a few ghost stories couldn't take our minds off of.
Daylight savings gave us an extra hour of sleep and our pancake breakfast was delicious and just what was needed to finish out the trip strong.
The morning was filled with finishing projects, making more music, more hiking, and trail rides back out to the canyon and among the gorgeous golden oak trees.
It was a magical and rejuvenating weekend of making new friends, enjoying old ones, and challenging ourselves to see and hear things in new ways.
Outdoor Program News
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