Nothing could stop these fearless gardeners from participating in the fun and light hearted activity of naked gardening at the Everson Ranch this year. In 2019 we had about 25-30 eager gardeners, last year the event was canceled due to Covid. This year we had 8 participants that contributed with their muscles, humor and laughter while being accompanied by live music (thank you Mark) and teaming up to plant bulbs, remove grass, and weed. Thank you for showing up even though Valley View could not lodge all of you since we are still operating at reduced capacity. Thank you to these hearty 8 gardeners . May they double in numbers like the daffodils do every year and make 2022 a greater success.
Gardener and Ranch Caretaker
Saturday May 1st
9:30am- 11:30am and/or 4pm - 6pm
at the Everson Ranch.
This is an invitation to participate in an international, annual event where gardeners and non gardeners come together to celebrate gardening in the open. Usually it is a fun, lighthearted and a liberating experience.
You can wear as much or as little clothing as you wish. You might want to dress in layers since the weather in early May at the Everson Ranch is unpredictable. Could be mild and comfortable but it could also be windy and cool. Precipitation, rain or snow, is also a possibility. Think early Spring, high altitude gardening.
Please bring: sunscreen, sun hat, sun glasses, water bottle, solid shoes, and gardening gloves. Because we are still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, also bring your face mask. You might like to bring your lunch to enjoy after gardening. We have plenty of picnic tables to sit at that are arranged at safe distances. After lunch there will be a tour of the ranch for those that would like to stay longer.
Even though we will be outside we ask you to please wear a mask when with other gardeners. The plans for the garden this year are modest. It is still not known how much the ranch will be open to visitors and guests in the coming months. We could use your help in the greenhouses and garden.
Although Valley View is at capacity for that day, you are welcome to join us in the Everson Ranch garden either in the morning or afternoon or both times!
Many people are getting vaccinated and the state and federal agencies are loosening restrictions. However, locally, there has been a sharp spike in cases. The public health nurse is advising everyone to continue to mask up, for public places to keep capacities reduced, and practice physical distancing. The pandemic still poses sizable risks.
In the immediate future, we are going to keep our capacity low, require masks except in the pools and at your accommodation, and limit pool occupancy. This is not easy. We very much would like to open things up but we remain cautious. Many of the people we talk to when we make reservations appreciate the vigilance and feel safer because we are keeping our precautions in place. Everyone is looking forward to more normal times and by practicing prevention, we trust that this will help to finally put the coronavirus spread behind us all.
I am starting my report exactly one year since closing OLT due to this on-going plague. I remember this date - March 13th - because it is my birthday. (thank you) This year I'm 75. This has been a difficult/strange/odd/bizarre year for all of us. But we do seem to be getting through it gingerly. The vaccines are helping tremendously to move us forward towards some semblance of normalcy. I know that I am very thankful.
Our members have been wonderfully accommodating all of the changes that have been asked of them. Mask wearing, social distancing, pool population and time limits and restricted entrance times have been trials for the best of us. OLT perseveres. The Everson Ranch has mostly been quiet although the gardening, the watering of fields and the collecting of eggs continues. The land is renewing itself.
Just look around the Village. More birds, mammals, bugs. More flowering plants. More quiet. Fewer cars. This year of less use has allowed our unique place to breath a sigh of relief and to stretch its natural tendencies to the limit. All of this is due to the diligence of our Staff, and our Member's donations and continued support.
Do you want to get away, live in the country, maybe write that book, meditate, and live on a ranch while helping out with ranch chores?
Volunteer opportunity at the Everson Ranch in Colorado
The setting is a remote, quiet, peaceful 150 year old ranch on 760 acres with endless hiking possibilities. Two hot springs nearby; one, part of OLT (Valley View Hot Springs) and the other is Joyful Journey Hot Springs and Spa. Fresh, organic vegetables from the garden in the summer. Majestic view of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. For pictures and background information, see to olt.org website or watch the Historical Everson Ranch, Orient Land Trust on Youtube. Housing in a rent free, small, solar heated cottage (no running water, good heating, refrigerator), non-attached shower, bathroom and fully equipped kitchen in a nearby structure.
Use of Valley View Hot Springs as availability permits (in the range of 1-3 times per week).
Saguache County is currently at level Blue-Caution. At this level we are capacity limited to 50 people, physical distancing required. On March first we opened up our reservation window to Supporter level members reserving for two months out. The first day we received a tsunami wave of phone calls, then things calmed down and returned to normal. This is not an April Fool's Day prank. On April first we will open up that window for Patron level or higher members to reserve three months out! This means that Friends will be able to reserve for the month of April, Supporters for April and May, Patrons for April, May & June. If April 1st phone lines are busy, please be patient and call back at a later time or leave a message and we will call you back in the order the calls came in.
We've received calls from members wanting to know when we will lift our restrictions now that people are getting vaccinated. Keep in mind that we have members who are still awaiting their turn for a vaccine, some who may choose to not be vaccinated and many travelers who visit from out-of-state and foreign countries. We will continue to follow CDC and our local health official recommendations. We will not require proof of vaccination, though it has been suggested. Physical distancing and mask wearing is still required. From our San Luis Valley Health Department: "It is more important than ever to continue to take precautions around others, wherever you are. Even though more people are getting vaccinated, we are not out of the woods yet. Whether you are traveling out of town or staying local, please continue to stay at least six feet away from others, wear a mask while indoors and in crowds, and wash your hands as much as possible."
We'll continue to require masks indoors and out as well as physical distancing around others who are not in your household. Wear your mask while on pool decks and walking outside where others are present, if you see another person, wear your mask! Pool capacity will remain the same for April with 6 of our smaller pools used by one household at a time and the three larger pools remain multi-family with physical distancing encouraged. Personal size gatherings remain at no more than 10 people from 2 different households. We will continue to limit the number of households per reservation and ask that, for the time being, you come with your family only.
Tent camping will open starting May 1, though we don't expect the pavilion kitchen to open fully until the end of May when we can turn on the outdoor water faucets. Please come prepared to cook at your site and store food in your vehicle. Communal spaces like the Sauna, Welcome Center and Oak House will remain closed.
As more folks get vaccinated and case numbers continue to decline, we look forward to the restrictions and capacities changing. You can get up to date information on our website or click this link to our Covid Guidelines: olt.org/guidelines
Last fall we sold most of the animals at the ranch. We kept the flock of chickens and eggs are in plentiful supply. We also kept Jimi, the llama, and our ranch dog, Gummy Bear. We kept two goats. One was still milking and the other had an injured foot. Toward the end of January, the nanny with the injured foot had two little billy goat kids. Seeing the new baby goats was a joyful experience. Maybe because the pandemic has been going on so long and the ranch has seemed so quiet, it was a treat to see such resiliency and the promise of spring.
We are likely looking at reduced activity at the ranch again in 2021. We are still under the shadow of the virus and although we are continually looking at long range goals for Orient Land Trust, we are aware of the costs involved. Thank you to everyone who has supported the Everson Ranch activities. We are still debating our course there this summer. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures of the two new animals!
January was a beautiful month here, peaceful and cold. We averaged 27 people per day, rarely reaching our nightly capacity. We've kept our rates the same while reducing our numbers to about a third of normal. One positive outcome is that there are less people here and it feels more quiet and less crowded. We will continue to operate at 30% capacity, up to 42 adult visitors per day, selling overnight passes only throughout the winter season.
At the state level, officials are happy with Colorado's covid numbers and we did not experience the spike in cases that was expected after the holiday. Saguache county has done well, but we have recently had a few covid cases at our local schools which have moved to remote learning for the time being. We are working our way through winter. The daylight hours are stretching out. There is some optimism for seeing the end of the pandemic as vaccinations are increasing and the mortality and infection rates seem to be dropping. However, this is not the time to be relaxed about the preventative measures we all take to keep each other healthy and well. The good news is that we have not had any outbreaks at the hot springs, with staff and guests alike! Though our guidelines may seem restrictive, they are working!
We know many people are disappointed that the sauna is closed. It will remain closed for the time being as it is a small indoor space with little ventilation. It would be difficult to wear a mask or social distance inside and it would be impossible for us to sanitize appropriately for multiple household use. The positive side of the sauna being closed is that the electricity it normally consumes is available as kilowatts to heat the Apple Tree Pools!
Cold weather with night time temperatures reaching zero and below is making camping challenging for those who are tenting or sleeping in their car. If you're camping we recommend that you have an RV, camper van, or four season gear. Generators and car heaters are not permitted as they disturb others. Campers need to come prepared as there is no indoor space available to warm up during the night. If you don't have the right stuff, you might want to wait until the weather warms up!
At our members' suggestions, we implemented a sign up board at the Apple Tree Pools. With colder weather, more guests want to be in the hot pools. Guests suggested that we have a sign-up board so people could plan ahead. The goal is to be fair and equitable. Each household gets to sign up for two soaks in the upper apple and two soaks in the lower apple, 30 minutes each. This has been working well and our guest comments have been very positive. It helps with compliance to the guideline of only one household/per pool and gives everyone an opportunity to get a soak in. The other pools are all open with a recommendation of a 2 hour maximum soak, then rotate to another pool or activity. Some visitors have been greedy signing up for more than their share or monopolizing a pool while others have not had a chance to soak. Once again, it comes back to being respectful and kind to others, do unto others as you would have them do unto you! We count on the community to be kind, respectful and responsible so that everyone has a wonderful experience.
Reservations, especially for weekends, have been challenging for many. We are currently renting only eleven indoor spaces and they go very quickly. For a normal weekend advance reservation, we will get 30 to 40 phone calls all within a few minutes to rent those few rooms. When you call to reserve, leave your name and number and we will call you back in the order the calls come in so that it is fair to everyone. Please do not keep hanging up and ringing the phone! We won't answer the live calls until everyone who has left a message has been called back, get in the queue and please be patient!
Things have been different this past year. To find out what you need to know, what's changed, and for up to date information go to: olt.org/guidelines Please look these over before planning your trip so that you are prepared and know what to expect. Thanks for your cooperation! We too are longing for times of social soaking, gathering at the telescope, music at Oak House, and impromptu potlucks at the Pavilion. In the meantime, think of others as you rotate through the precious hours in the hot pools and savor the reflective and meditative days we have now.
As the days get longer and spring is on the horizon, we are feeling optimistic! Starting March 1, we will start taking reservations for two months in advance. For those of you who have been generous donors, your generosity once again has a benefit. If you have been wanting to reserve further in advance, we are adding another month. Members at the Friendship level will have a one month reservation benefit and members at the Supporter or higher levels will have a two month benefit.
As the weather warms and more outdoor activities are available, we look forward to opening up an additional room in the Sunset House and Oak House. They have been restricted during the winter months due to the shared communal space of kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms. We'll maintain our capacity at 30% for the time being, but by summer we hope to expand that as well. Warmer temperatures means more time spent on outdoor activities, hiking, swimming and soaking in the cooler pools and more enjoyment for campers. Though many of our restrictions will remain in place until the pandemic subsides, we look forward to the change in seasons. Springtime in the Rockies can be anything from winter to summer, so if you're visiting in the next few months, check weather conditions so you are prepared. Hope to see you soon!
I do not usually set my alarm at Valley View Hot Springs but one time I did to accomplish a soaking cycle before leaving. I left my clothes in my tent and my towel at the Meadow Pool walkway. I walked to the swimming pool for an invigorating morning swim. Then I stopped at each pool, Lower and Upper Apple Tree pools, Main Pond, Waterfall Pool, and the Meadow pool. After soaking for a while, I air dried on the deck. Knowing this was the last moment for this visit, I flipped over on my stomach, crossed my arms, and rested my chin. I looked down through the crystal clear water and watched the tiny bubbles rising to the surface. This particular visit had been especially spiritually nourishing and I felt blanketed by the warm sun and inner contentment. Then it happened. I heard a rustle, looked up and a deer was staring in my face just across the pond. We spent a moment in mutual recognition then went our separate ways. Another mystical moment.