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HIGH IN THE CARIBOO

One week at British Columbia's oldest guest ranch.

Story by Whitney James July 28th, 2014

GOING HOME

Some traditions last a lifetime. I might only be in my 20’s, but my best friend and I have already got one. It’s the Flying U Ranch in British Columbia, and I’ve been going there for over half my life. It’s seen me in braces, in love, in college and after. I wrote my thesis on it and dream about it often. I’ve seen it sold, bought, the main lodge burned to the ground and re-built as new. But mostly I’ve enjoyed all those parts of it that remain the same.

John Muir might have said “Going to the mountains is going home”, but for me, going to the Flying U is.

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REAL LIFE CABIN PORN

The first thing you’ll notice about the Flying U is that the cabins are tiny. And squeaky. And don’t have restrooms. Their door frames are crooked and a cast iron stove sits in the middle of each, the sole provider of warmth during cool nights when the quilted comforters don’t do the trick. Why so rustic? Because as part of British Columbia’s oldest guest ranch, these cabins were built in the 1920’s. And aside from a few new touch-ups, they remain very much the same.

While we love the authenticity, we also love the brand new dock resting atop peaceful Green Lake.

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TIME TO GIDDY-UP

It’s not just about the cabins. The Flying U Ranch is the last place you can free-ride in North America – meaning you get your horse, and you go. No wrangler, no guide. Just you and your horse and 40,000 acres of wild full of bears and birch trees. Oh, and about 100,000 of the biggest mosquitos you’ve ever laid eyes on. If you get lost, simply spin your horse in a circle, give him a holler, and let him take you home.

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THE GOOD AND THE BAD

This year, getting to the Flying U was an adventure in itself. It took two days for my best friend and I to fly halfway across the nation from our new respective homes, then borrow a car to drive seven hours north. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t cheap, but it was anything but ugly.
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DAY TO DAY

There’s a country song that says you can sleep when you’re dead. At the Flying U, we do just that. Our days revolve around the following schedule: rise with the sun, drink bad coffee, ride horses for seven hours, jump in the lake, visit the saloon, kayak or canoe, make a bonfire, sleep like rocks. We brought books, but there was no time to read them.

The seven day trip started and ended with blue skies and smiles, but it wasn’t all easy going. Mid-week we were met with choking smoke from nearby wildfires and bugs too numerous to count. We made it out alive despite the horse flies, deer flies, black flies, mosquitos, and sunburns. My friend might disagree, but I think the Kokanee had something to do with it.
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RAMBLE ON

Traditions aren’t always easy. Life gets in the way, people grow apart. My best friend and I must be on to something, because this is one trip we’ve already busted our boots to make happen. It’s the memories from these seven days we laugh about all year long, and the countdown to return that have built such an immense part of our lives. So see you in two years, Flying U. It’ll take that long to forget about the bugs, anyway.

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Footnote: All photos taken with my trusty Canon 60D
Flying U Ranch, North Green Lake Road, 70 Mile House, BC, Canada