Big Bar Guest Ranch; Your Home On The Range
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If you prefer a wood stove over a TV, horses instead of Wi-Fi and a slow pace instead of traffic then you’re just the right fit for a stay at Big Bar Guest Ranch. Nestled between the Marble Mountains and the Fraser River - about an hours drive from any amenities or city limits - it’s easy to feel reconnected to the remote nature and century old ranching history. Think coyotes yipping at sunset, campfires after days spent in the saddle and some of the best stars you’ll ever see. 

Offering stays in rustic log cabins, some dating back to 1936, this historic ranch is the perfect retreat for simplicity and adventure. Should you opt to stay in the hotel units, you’ll be nestled closer to the hosts, wranglers and ranch dogs - all who instantly feel like family. 

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This summer you can look forward to fresh, organic foods grown on property to be used in their gourmet restaurant to feed all who stay or visit the ranch, a new bar and gift shop using handcrafted and locally sourced goods as well as traditional tipis available during the warmer months. Regardless of minor changes over the years, the charm of this ranch remains the same, and even after many stays on property we find ourselves always longing to go back. To book your stay visit:

“Anyone drinking this Fraser river water here, will always come back to it, sooner or later.” I have often thought of his words, and how true they were, because somehow or someway this big old Cariboo acts like a powerful magnet ever drawing the heart, mind and memories of those who have had the experience of living in these big wide open spaces. — Harry Marriot, Cariboo Cowboy

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Beau, resident ranch dog with the sweetest heart.

Beau, resident ranch dog with the sweetest heart.

Cabin interiors - all equipped with a wood stove for warmth.

Cabin interiors - all equipped with a wood stove for warmth.

Our Top 7; Why Mountain Air Is Good For You
Up knorth - alpine camp

Not that this is news to us or anyone who spends time regularly outdoors. But there’s something, regardless of the season, addicting once your lungs get the taste. If you still need some convincing, here are our top 7 reasons why we think mountain air is good for you:

  1. We’ll start with something obvious and slightly scientific; mountain air allows you to breathe in oxygen that is mostly free of gasses or air pollution. The fresh air can help respiratory problems, never mind being better for your overall health. Caution; This clean crisp air is addicting - especially if mixed with the smoke of a good campfire.

  2. Most often when you’re in the mountains you do some form of physical activity. This combined with (on average) lower temperatures in the mountains can help you sleep better. As your body works harder, you will be rewarded with a deep ‘post-mountain’ sleep; whether at home or under the stars any true outdoorsman knows what we’re talking about.

  3. This one is truest to us; mountain air gives us a sense of purpose. Whether it’s the air or the surroundings or most likely a combination of both. We feel purpose in the mountains. And it’s not something specific; when we’re in the mountains we feel a strong, general life purpose.

  4. A night in the mountains offers a type of relaxation no spa could ever offer. That overwhelming sense of peace allows us to breath better, heal any stress or anxiety we may have been feeling. Rule of thumb; the longer you stay in the mountains, the less stress you will feel.

  5. Mountains are notorious for pushing us out of our comfort zones, and we love it. Most mountain activities - anything from something as simple as backcountry camping or as intense as climbing a new range - can help us push ourselves and set new limits, based on our experience. For example. backcountry sleeping can be intimidating for someone who has never spent a night in the wilderness. But with the correct levels of preparedness achieving these things we’ve never done can help fill us with accomplishment and feelings of intense capability - feelings that can trickle into other aspects of our lives.


6. Mountain air comes free of distractions; there’s no pollution (yes we mentioned that already). We mean no pollution in the sense of no noise, no cell service, no wifi, no tv, no movies. When we’re void of all these technological distractions, it seems that suddenly the day is so much longer, that we can slow down and take time to enjoy the simplest things that in ‘ordinary’ circumstances we’d rush through or pay no attention to at all - things like slowly brewing your coffee and being mindful of every sip, studying the vistas and surroundings around you and truly taking the time to appreciate the beauty nature is offering us, things like talking to your company and building deeper connections instead of zoning out in front of the TV or our cell phones.

7. Last, and probably most important to us; Mountain air reminds us we’re far out of the city. It’s simple, but effective.

Honoring The S'More; Everything You Need To Know About The Campfire Treat We Love


It seems like National S'Mores Day has crept up on us. While we're not a fan of always celebrating these national-something-days, we'll make an exception for this one. 

S'mores History 101: By the late 1800s, marshmallows changed to more or less how we know them now. The mallow plant extract (which had been used previously) was replaced by the more readily available gelatin, which is what keeps modern marshmallows together. By the 1890s, according to period newspaper reports, marshmallow roasts were the latest in summer fads. “The simplicity of this form of amusement is particularly charming,” reads a description of 1892. It's not until the 1920's however that there is any documented mention of the s'mores. In 1927 a recipe for s'mores (formally designated “some mores”) appeared in Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.

So let's dive in. What's a s'more? Basically a cookie sandwich prepared over a campfire. Most people know them in their basic form (sometimes simple is best no?); graham crackers, toasted marshmallow and chocolate. Put them together and there you have it. Personally, we like to change things up. Think bourbon marshmallows, flavored chocolates, adding raspberry jam, peanut or almond butter... we also recommend wrapping your s'more in tinfoil and re-roasting for a particularly decadent dessert. Our secret is to toast your marshmallow, assemble your s'more then wrap the whole thing in tinfoil, place it above the coals - in direct heat but no flame - for about 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and let the foil cool down, then slowly peel it open for chocolatey, gooey goodness. 

In short, the list goes on of how you can creatively manipulate this classic. Nevermind the endless recipe adaptations that can be found online - like these baked S'Mores Chocolate Doughnuts by Blue Bowl Recipes. Need we say more? They're relatively easy to make, and a great way to honor this fireside treat. Find the full recipe here.

Photo by Stephanie Simmons of Blue Bowl Recipes.  Full recipe here .

Photo by Stephanie Simmons of Blue Bowl Recipes. Full recipe here.

Why Go Micro; The Tiny House 'Trend' Breakdown
By Handcrafted Movement

By Handcrafted Movement

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler. - Henry David Thoreau

Without diving too deep into the problems of an overly materialistic society where everything has to be bigger to be better, let us just say that everyone has their own reasons for going tiny... ie. Making the decision to downsize living quarters to something averaging just 300 sq ft. So, what are the benefits?

An obvious major factor is the financial aspect. Whether the decision is to purchase in full or mortgage a tiny house (lease to own) the costs are significantly lower than owning or renting any traditional home or apartment. What's more, even though you're paying less it doesn't mean you are downgrading - A tiny house can be built to your needs using highest quality materials. And because you're spending less than on a regular home, you have the option to outfit your home with modern, highly eco-efficient appliances, never mind a design layout that you can customize or create from scratch all together! 

More time outdoors is another major factor for many tiny house dwellers. When days are sunny, sunsets are outside every window and door. With the outdoors being quite literally, right there, you have less excuses to not step outside on to your porch for that morning coffee, or spend more sunsets outside by your fire. Remember, you can chose where you 'park it', chances are you'll choose somewhere pretty damn spectacular. 

No sacrifice on quality; Luxury interior by Mint Tiny Homes

No sacrifice on quality; Luxury interior by Mint Tiny Homes

34 foot custom built tiny house by Mint Tiny Homes

34 foot custom built tiny house by Mint Tiny Homes

In case you needed more reasons to be convinced, we've got two more words; Travel and mobility. With having the option to build and have your tiny house permanently on wheels, you can go anywhere an RV can go, not to mention, park it (almost) everywhere an RV can. Each province/state has it's own rules and regulations, so be sure to do your homework - but the options are endless. Have a permanent home you can take with you - from coast to mountains and back again. 

The list could go on, but our last major contributor to the ultimate plus of going tiny is the opportunity to be self-sufficient - to be able to live in the wilderness and have everything you could possibly need. While many people prefer to be "on the grid" many builders offer to outfit your home to be off-grid capable - meaning no connections to city water and power are necessary. Think no bills, propane, solar, wood-burning heat and rain water collection - To us that is the ultimate lifestyle; a bit of isolation, freedom, and solitude.

Tiny house interior built by Alaskan furniture-builder and designer  Ana White

Tiny house interior built by Alaskan furniture-builder and designer Ana White

36' tiny house with double slide outs by Mint Tiny Homes

36' tiny house with double slide outs by Mint Tiny Homes

Urban Foraging; Saskatoon Berries

As we creep into July, Saskatoon berries (Amelanchier alnifolia) begin to ripen - to the well trained eye that is. The berry, which goes by many names (prairie berry, serviceberry, shadbush, juneberry and, in past centuries, pigeon berry) looks much like a blueberry, although the fruit is more closely related to the apple family. This unique, sweet berry has an unmistakable flavor and can be found growing wild (and in abundance) through many parts of North America. Being less picky about soil conditions than blueberries, the Saskatoon berries can be found from sea level to mountain peaks. Turns out this mean little berry packs a serious nutritional punch - as they appear to be an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper and carotene and several antioxidants. So what's not to love - a refreshing treat to be enjoyed post hike, or lakeside in the woods, never mind making a great wild substitute for any of your favourite blueberry recipes. 

** Please note, do your research before picking/consuming any wild edibles. There are many foraging courses available to your particular location. 

Trout Lake by Olsun Kundig

The buildings recall the agricultural forms of the local built environment, but as is our nature in our designs, we sought to take that context and evolve it to a more emphatic modern language. We sought to design something that was exquisitely proportioned in a quiet, agricultural way.” –Tom Kundig 

This stunning property is located on eighteen acres of rural agricultural property in Trout Lake, Washington. The minimalistic yet rustic design style was built with intention to integrate indoor and outdoor living; a sense of being none with the surrounding landscape. The exterior style of house takes after agricultural structures, with elements of minimalism incorporated in its design, form and materials used; most of the house is finished in low-maintenance concrete, plywood and steel.

Photography by Jeremy Bitterman

A Minimalist Forest House; The Junsei House

Designed for a couple interested in simplifying their lives and learning to live with less, The Junsei House was created with a holistic approach to designing architecture that is sustainable. The house’s spaces give one a feeling of completeness, eliminating the need for more things. Simple, efficient and quiet in design, the house is a reaction to today’s technology and offers a refuge in an ever changing, chaotic world. Located in an area once rich in fishing and logging and still supported by commuter ferry, the site is lush with trees. Respectful to the existing landscape and touching the ground minimally, the house is appropriate and compliments its surroundings rather than competing with it. Wishing to honor the existing site, all of the trees were left in place and excess excavation was limited to protect tree roots leaving only 18 feet in width and 80 feet in length for the house. Surrounded by trees and water, nature now becomes the house’s art. - From the architects. 

Built by Suyama Peterson Deguci in Seattle, WA. Photography by Charlie Schuck.

11 Tips To Make Sure Your First Overnight Hike Goes Smoothly

Overnight hiking is one of the best ways to integrate yourself with nature. Not only will you enjoy some of the benefits of hiking, but you’ll also allow yourself to unplug for several hours. When was the last time you thoroughly unplugged from technology for 48 hours?

If you can’t remember, you’re not alone.

Photo by  Hennygraphy

Photo by Hennygraphy

Hiking tunes you into the most primal parts of your brain. The human body was created to live alongside nature—not in the modern world. You’ll learn how to navigate the forest, cook for yourself and entertain yourself without the use of modern technology. 

Spending time outdoors has plenty of health benefits too. In addition to reducing stress, spending time outdoors can help enhance your mood and help you sleep better. Yet, you’ll need a few pointers if you’re about to embark on your first overnight backpacking trip. One of the most important things to understand about hiking is: planning is everything.


Tip #1 - Plan Ahead

Planning is one of the best things you can do to ensure success on your hiking trip. The more you prepare for your trip, the more successful your trip will be.

Your first hike should be planned when the weather conditions are expected to be mild (or at least, not so erratic). You don’t want to deal with drastic drops or rises in temperature for your first trip.

Tip #2 - Don’t Pack for a Fortnight Away

It’s important to be prepared, but sometimes less is more when it comes to packing. Don’t pack everything. Many first-time hikers tend to pack all the modern comforts they think they’ll desire over the next day.

Just remember that you’ll need to carry everything that you pack. You’ll want to lay out everything you plan to pack before you place anything in your pack. Take a good look at everything you’ll need to carry. You can go ahead and discard those four extra pairs of socks you just thought you wouldn’t be able to live without.

Tip #3 - Preparing to Dine Al Fresco

It’s important to plan out your meals in advance, so you don’t find yourself burdened with too much (or worse—without enough food) over the course of your trip. Make sure to pack plenty of protein and carbs to keep you satisfied.

Remember that you may have to pack your waste out, so don't bring lots of food in heavy containers such as tins. It's best to prepare meals in advance, and bring them in ziplock bags or buy freeze-dried meals that only require boiling water to cook.

Although, don’t forget to have a little fun with your food! Try a new recipe for an old fan favorite like buttered popcorn marshmallow smores.

Photo by Cam DiCecca

Photo by Cam DiCecca

Tip #4 - Bring a Map (and know how to use it)

Despite how much Google Maps has rocked your world, you’ll need to bring an old-school waterproof map. You’ll also need to know how to use it. Navigation skills are hugely important in the wilderness where cell phone batteries can die, or your GPS doesn't get a signal.

Tip #5 - Test Your Equipment at Home

It’s important to test out all of your equipment at home before your hike. You should break in your hiking boots before hitting the trail, so you don’t destroy your feet.

Sometimes manufacturers forget to include all of the parts in products, and you don’t want to wait until you’re in the middle of the woods before realizing that you don’t have the main pole for your tent. Test your equipment in your backyard first.

Tip #6 - Learn to Dress Appropriately

Hikers and backpackers these days swear by the three-layer system that will help keep you comfortable in (most) any weather. This involves a thin base layer, to wick away moisture, a middle insulating layer to keep you warm and then an outer shell layer to protect you from the wind and elements. Simply remove or add layers to suit the climate.

Also, don't forget to bring accessories such as sun hats, sunglasses or cold weather gloves.

Tip #7 - Familiarize Yourself with LNT & Local Regulations

You know the saying, “Take only photos, leave only memories?” Leave No Trace means that you leave nature the same as you found it. This means that everything you "pack in" should be "packed out" again.

Don’t bother the wildlife, pick the flowers or camp on sites that aren’t already established by other campers.

Lastly, you also want to ensure you have the appropriate permits before you step foot on the trail. Don’t assume that you don’t need a permit.

Tip #8 - Check the Weather Before You Go

Leading up to your trip double-check the weather forecast and consider rescheduling your trip if the weather won't be in your favor. If you still plan on heading out, make any final adjustments to your pack based on the likely (and worst case) weather forecast.

Tip #9 - Panic Time, Leave One!

Never hike without telling your friends and family where you’re going. Establish a panic time. This means that you tell your friends and family when you’re leaving, where you’re going, your exact route and when to call the authorities if you haven’t returned.

As soon as you are back in your car (and have cell service), call your designated family members to let them know you’re okay.

Tip #10 - Keep It Simple

On your first trip, just keep it simple. You'll probably be doing a lot of new tasks for the first time such as map navigation, long strenuous hikes and setting up a campsite. Don't further add to the burden by planning to hike 15 miles a day or fit in lots of extra activities.

Tip #11 - Enjoy Yourself

The most important part of your hike is remembering to have plenty of fun. Enjoy yourself! Hopefully, you’re planning this trip because you already have a love of hiking. Don’t forget to have fun and relax!

Article written for UP KNÖRTH by My Open Country. My Open Country is a campaign to try and get more people excited about the outdoors. Improve your wilderness adventures with their in-depth articles on hiking/backpacking skills, inspirational trip guides & awesome gear reviews.
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