The most prominent geological feature at Paradise Ranch is Fan Rock, a bare, pleated cliff face that concertinas like a peacock’s tail, providing a spectacular entrance to the valley and a dramatic canvas at sunset.
Some of the guests planned a dawn walk to the rock to watch the sun rise over the ranch; and I reluctantly agreed to join them, hauling myself out of my cosy bed at 5am. I met two guests, Sean and Vanessa, at the designated time of 5.15 ... but there was no sign of the other guests, or our guide for the morning, Sarah. We hung around for 15 or so minutes waiting; but as the sky lightened, we thought we’d better make tracks.
The only problem being, I don’t know the trail. So it was a case of the blind leading the blind as we walked through the wetland and around the base of Fan Rock, following the moose trail (and admiring the large moose grazing in the distance) and trying not to get our feet wet in the bog.
Where the trail stops, the rocks start; we then clambered up up up like mountain goats, just in time to see the western face of Fan Rock illuminated by the first rays. It was breathtakingly beautiful, the tranquility broken only by the constant gurgle of the river below.
It was clear we were pretty much lost; but we knew if we went up and over, we’d eventually see the ranch in all its morning glory. It wasn’t too hard going, but it certainly got the heart pumping as we hopped from rock to rock. Just as we were about to give up and go back the way we came, we stumbled across what appeared to be a trail. With fresh boot marks. Seems the other group may have been here before us, actually going the right way...
Emerging back into the sun-drenched meadow was a heart-singing moment. In the golden light, with a tiara of snow-capped mountains as a backdrop, the ranch looked so incredibly beautiful. Certainly worth the long haul, and the best incentive ever for the early morning start. I’ll certainly be back out there again soon ... and this time, I know where the trail is!