The Ranch Magic Isn’t Just for Summertime - Feathered Pipe Foundation

The Ranch Magic Isn’t Just for Summertime

Dear Friends,

People often wonder what it’s like at the Feathered Pipe Ranch when there are no retreat programs in the winter months. Simon Kaplan first came to the Ranch in summer of 2023 and was inspired (and just adventuresome enough) to want to be that brave soul to look after the property long after the nourishing warmth and convenience of summer was gone. Having taken a hiatus from his travels to care for the Ranch this winter, Simon has graciously agreed to share a slice of the mystery….


The Ranch Magic Isn’t Just for Summertime - Feathered Pipe FoundationI certainly can’t be the only one that falls in love with a place – a scenery, its scents and its warmth – and in doing so, commit that singular vision to memory. I imagine this memory may be familiar for a few of us – visiting the Feathered Pipe Ranch in the glowing Montana summer, with the mountain land living in our memory inseparable from the heavy scent of pine and fir brought out by the warm breeze and golden sun. Birds and wildlife stirring, with wildflowers and their nectar abundant. Streams running fast, the lake a perfect scene with guests, relaxed and gathered over the green lawn, blissful as the late afternoon comes to a close.

But, each year as we all set out to conclude our annual visits at the Ranch, as we return to our lives where these days will remain with us only as this year’s beautiful memories, when the buzz of the summer classes has become not but an echo in the log cabin walls, something else entirely begins anew – the great northern winter descends on the Rocky Mountains and the greater Continental Divide.

The Ranch Magic Isn’t Just for Summertime - Feathered Pipe FoundationIt brings about an entirely new world: for the animals, for the rivers and the lake, for the trees and for these hills at large.

And, thinking of this change brings the questions about – When the mountain snow buries deep what’s left of the summer’s plants and wildflowers, does silence prevail among the trees? Does the deep mountain green remain steadfast, or does it give way to pure white as the aspen leaves fall to the ground? Do the deer and their young fawns still roam over the meadow – and, come to think of it, do they dare cross the lake on foot on a frozen February morning?

Do those same stars from the summer season that take our collective breath away on the countless calm, late evenings still shine bright above, long after the season’s warmth has given way to the relentless, bitter cold that pervades the following months?

Each year, there are but a few who are lucky – and perhaps crazy – enough to witness personally the answers to these questions. Primarily onsite to take care of the logistics of temperatures 30 below zero and the effects of winds capable of causing trees to take flight, these caretakers and neighbors do indeed get to see this beautiful transformation firsthand.

The Ranch Magic Isn’t Just for Summertime - Feathered Pipe FoundationAnd, as one of those grateful ones able to witness the answers to these questions and more, reveal themselves over the long winter months, I’ll be the first to say – the answer is simple – Yes.

Yes – the magic of this special place does indeed endure the coldest months.

Yes – the Brook Trout continue to swim beneath the now-frozen streams and the lake they feed, passing the days until the ice wanes and they can impress us all once again by taking flight, jumping like Olympians and causing a stir and cheers from all of those watching.

Yes – the aspen leaves of the summer are gone, and although they no longer quake in the wind, on occasion the branches hold more snow than one would think possible, and a phenomenon just as special takes place, with the branches themselves glistening red, blue, gold and green in the shy January sun.

The Ranch Magic Isn’t Just for Summertime - Feathered Pipe FoundationYes – the deer continue to be inseparable from that beautiful meadow. And with the grass now buried deep beneath a blanket of snow, it may be impossible to know where exactly the meadow ends and the frozen lake begins – and the deer tracks in the early morning reveal that this new land on the lake has become a useful shortcut for any curious fawn seeking a bit of new adventure.

And, perhaps most importantly for the year ahead – Yes – all throughout the winter, the Feathered Pipe team is, indeed, hard at work all over the world – planning, preparing, scheduling, creating, coordinating and intentionally placing untold amounts of care and love into creating the most magical summer season ahead yet. The Ranch looks forward to seeing you all again this 2024 – warmer temperatures expected.

~ Simon Kaplan, writing from Feathered Pipe Ranch in February 2024

Feathered Pipe Scholarship Program

Get Ready for Application Period Round 2: April 3 – 13, 2024. Notification by April 17, 2024. Scholarships ranging from $500-$750 are available for the following 2024 retreats:

Baxter Bell & Melina Meza: Journey to Joy: Adventure, Creativity, and Yoga Retreat
Lara Warren: The Alchemy of Yoga & Creative Self-Expression
Lanita Varshell & Diane Ambrosini: Opening to the Joyful Flow of Life: Mindfulness, Gentle Yoga & Joyful Movement

The Ranch Magic Isn’t Just for Summertime - Feathered Pipe FoundationScholarships do not cover the full cost of attending a retreat. Scholarship awards are deducted from retreat tuition. Check the website for details about a particular retreat program’s tuition and please consider your travel costs before applying. More details on the Feathered Pipe Scholarship page.

Joy, Creativity and Adventure

Baxter Bell and Melina Meza are offering a special retreat program this summer at the Ranch that will help spark your joy and creativity through yoga practice, photography, and adventure. Please check out their blog article in which they explore why joy, creativity, and adventure matter. And if you want to get really inspired, they’ve joined their photographic and musical talents to create an Inspired@FeatheredPipe page for all to enjoy.


With love and gratitude,
Crystal Water
Executive Director of Feathered Pipe Foundation

*Featured image credits: Simon Kaplan

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