News from Ring Lake Ranch

Fall 2015

Our 2016 programs are posted and we are taking registrations for next summer (click here for more information on our programs)! Please consider joining us (click here to register), and remember, we have scholarship assistance available. Contact Andy Blackmun at or (888) 458-5253 for more information about assistance or if you have any other questions.


Spring, 2013

Just before I sat down to write this update on May 1st, I opened the blinds in my office to look out on two inches of snow, supposedly only the beginning of a ‘spring storm’ as they say in the Rocky Mountains. I spent many years in the southern U.S., where trees have their leaves by opening day of Major League baseball.

Here in the west, however, spring takes it sweet time, often taking one step back for every two steps forward. It’s been snowing regularly up at the Ranch, too, so we are hopeful for enough moisture to kickstart our pasture grass and wildflowers this year.

Even as spring continues to wrestle with winter, time marches forward to the beginning of our 2013 season. Amanda reports that our pair of osprey have returned, so it must be time for our staff to begin opening the Ranch. We have a great group of staff people to host everyone this summer:

  • Connie Wood and Patrick Million return to create more magic in the Ranch kitchen this summer. Brandon Ashby joins them as our third cook. Brandon has cooked for a several lodges in Utah and Colorado, so we look forward to the recipes and experience he brings with him.
  • Leah Vader comes back again to serve as hike leader and housekeeper for a third summer. She will complete another round of eagle-watching in Arizona just in time to come to Ring Lake and help keep track of trails, housekeeping and the osprey, not necessarily in that order.
  • We welcome Maggie Bronson and Mo Morrow as our wranglers this summer. Maggie comes to us from northern California, where she has been competing in equestrian events, training horses and leading trail rides since childhood. Maggie offered that her “top three special talents are parallel parking, catching loose horses, and making a darn good chili,” so she should fit right in. Mo first came to the Ranch in the late ‘70’s, and helped out as a volunteer wrangler at the end of last season. She has many years of experience as a school teacher of all ages of kids, so she will be a great asset in helping our younger guests improve their riding skills.
  • Ben Verheul has been hard at work this winter as Facilities Manager. The big fall project was a round corral to use in training horses. As usual, the hardest part of the project was finding ground that wasn’t hiding too many rocks under the soil.
  • Amanda Verheul continues to ride herd over the money, guest registrations, and Clayton. The new lines of clothes and other merchandise she put together last summer were a big hit, so make sure you come by the shop to see what else she might have added this year. She and Ben are welcoming their second child late this summer, so congratulations to them!

I look forward to returning for my second full season as Director. It was a great summer last year and I look forward to welcoming old and new friends back to such a special place. If we all play nice, my wife Katherine will share more of her special Tuesday morning scones with everyone. Our kids are excited for more rides, dips in Trail Lake and GPS treasure hunts with all the other kids.

Ben worked with our farrier to find four great new horses to add to our herd. We are still collecting paperwork on them, so we’ll have official names and ages soon, but they come highly recommended and ready to help carry guests around our trails.

Several of our sessions are full or nearly so: Our seminars with Chris De Pree and Jeffrey Mahan are full, and we have only a couple spaces left for sessions with Vincent Harding and Diana Butler Bass. Other weeks still have cabins available.

Please have a look at our program page and remember, all of our weeks include opportunities for invigorating hikes, relaxing rides, good food and great company. If you are interested in registering, please contact Amanda Verheul at

Volunteer opportunities are nearly full this summer, too. Many thanks in advance to everyone who will come help Ring Lake Ranch continue to offer ‘renewal in sacred wilderness.’



News from Ring Lake Ranch

Fall News, 2012

As I look back on our recently completed season at the Ranch, I am struck by how, even with mostly the same schedule and the same daytime activities each week, each session has its own distinct flavor. It’s not just a matter of different seminar topics; the unique gifts that our guests bring to each other in the week’s community make each session a distinct delight in my memory.

There are very few places where the interaction of guests, seminar leaders, volunteers and staff make such a remarkable experience, week after week, summer after summer. On behalf of the Board and our staff, I am grateful to everyone who came to Ring Lake Ranch this summer and added their spirit to our community.

While many things continue on as always at Ring Lake Ranch, transitions also come to us, welcome or not. We said farewell to many of our dearest horse companions: Snowman, Julie, Tosi and Chigger passed away, while Jake and Jane were adopted by loving families in the area.

We welcomed Sonny, Riata, Cocoa and Gus to our herd this summer and they quickly became favorite riding companions for many guests. We will be looking for a few more horses to add in the off-season as our other senior horses move towards retirement.

Our new logo was a big hit this summer, appearing on lots of new merchandise and even on one of the new screen doors we added to the office. We will have an online store set up this fall, so no one will have to wait to come in person to get their Ranch gear! Online registration will be coming soon, too.

With the 2012 season closed out, we look forward to hosting new and returning guests for our 2013 sessions. The program descriptions are posted, so it’s not too early to begin thinking about next summer.

As always, we have compelling speakers, presenting on a wide range of fascinating topics. Combined with hikes, rides, canoeing, and just relaxing, a week or two spent at Ring Lake Ranch will provide everyone who comes with ‘renewal in sacred wilderness.’

We look forward to welcoming you to Ring Lake Ranch this summer for ‘renewal in sacred wilderness.’
Andy Blackmun, Director



News from Ring Lake Ranch

Spring News, 2012

Grace to you and peace from God! The new season of insightful seminars, great outdoor activities and quiet rest at Ring Lake Ranch is almost here. Ben, Amanda and I have all been hard at work, preparing for our opening weeks. After months of talking and planning, we are looking forward to welcoming all of you to the 47th season at Ring Lake Ranch.

We have had some changes to our summer staff roster, but we are finally set with a great group of people:

  • Connie Wood will be assisted in the kitchen by Patrick Million and Holly Forker. Patrick has cooked for many years in a variety of venues all over the western U.S., including everything from exclusive guest lodges to nonprofit venues with community gardens. He is an accomplished writer and avid hiker. Holly is a retiree who cares for her four grandchildren and runs a catering business from her home during the school year. She worked at a lodge in the Tetons during the summer of 2007 and has been eager to get back to the Wyoming mountains ever since.
  • Leah Floyd will join us as Head Wrangler this summer. Leah has lived in Dubois for the last 15 years, working for several of the local outfitters and ranchers. We also welcome Rascal and Rio to our herd of horses.
  • Leah Vader and Gary Ransom will be back to lead hikes and rides, respectively.

Spring has been a busy time for the Ranch on the media front, as well. As you have probably noticed, the website has a new look and navigation layout. We also have a new logo and a new, short video about the Ranch. Please feel free to share the video with anyone you think might be interested in Ring Lake Ranch!

The rosters for our session weeks continue to fill. The weeks with Belden Lane and Doug Melius each have only one small cabin open. Other weeks still have space, but if you want a particular type of cabin, please contact Amanda Verheul as soon as possible at or call her at 307-455-2663.

We have filled almost all of our volunteer slots during our session weeks. We still have openings during Volunteer Week, May 27th through June 2nd, so let us know if you are interested in helping open up the Ranch for the season.

We look forward to welcoming you to Ring Lake Ranch this summer for ‘renewal in sacred wilderness.’
Andy Blackmun, Director



Winter News, 2012

Greetings to all of you! As I write this, I feel the satisfying weariness of shoveling snow – the Denver area is digging out from a winter storm that has left our yard buried under sixteen inches of snow. By all reports, winter thus far in the Torrey valley has been mild by comparison, allowing Ben to work on various outdoor projects in greater comfort than usual.

Even as summer seems a world away, we are in the thick of preparing for next season at the Ranch. The Ring Lake Ranch Board of Directors met over the last weekend in January and accomplished a great deal of planning for the coming year. We welcomed two new board members: Jerry Campbell and Julie Mavity-Maddalena. Jerry is the President of Claremont School of Theology and an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. Julie is ordained in the United Church of Christ and currently working on her Ph.D. at Southern Methodist University. We are grateful for the new perspectives and dedication to the Ranch’s mission that they bring.

I’m thrilled to say that many of our great staff from last summer are coming back for another season:

  • Connie Wood and Karen Marshall will be preparing more of their fantastic recipes for you next summer.
  • Gary Ransom will be wrangling horses and guests again. We hope to add several new horses to our herd before the season starts, but all of your old favorites will be with us again as well.
  • Leah Vader will come in from watching bald eagles in the Arizona desert just in time to lead hikes for us again. Our sessions on ‘Hiking with the Saints in the Wilderness’ and ‘I Lift Mine Eyes Unto the Hills’ will both be especially fun for hikers, but any week is a good week to hike at Ring Lake
  • Ben and Amanda Verheul continue on as Facilities Manager and Business Manager. I am especially thankful for their dedicated work during the off-season.
  • We will be hiring a head wrangler, another wrangler and a part-time cook in the next few weeks to fill out our staff.


We have still have openings for most sessions next summer, but the sessions with Belden Lane and Doug Melius are filling quickly. We also have a few openings remaining for volunteers. Please contact Amanda at to register as a guest or offer your time as a volunteer.

Partial scholarships are still available for anyone in need. Don’t be shy about asking for assistance if it will make the difference in your decision to attend a session. Call or email me at or 888-458-5253 for our simple application.

Please consider joining us for another great season of ‘renewal in sacred wilderness.’
Grace and peace,
Andy Blackmun



Fall News, 2011

Grace and peace to all of you!

My name is Andy Blackmun and I am the new Director of Ring Lake Ranch. I have written a longer introduction for the fall newsletter, but let me say here how thrilled and honored I am to be working with Ring Lake Ranch. My family and I first came to the Ranch in 2007 and immediately loved everything about it: the beauty of the Torrey Valley, the sessions that the Ranch offers, the great sense of community with new and old friends each week.

I know I speak for all of the staff when I say we look forward to providing a chance for all of you to seek out your own rest and renewal at Ring Lake next season.

The 2011 season ended with several full, busy weeks. We had great sessions that asked us to consider, among other things, the changing definitions of spirituality and religion, the wonders of God’s Creation all around us, and the variety of meanings of the Christian language many of us use. Daily Ranch life was rich and satisfying. Hikers journeyed far and wide across the landscape, as did riders on horseback and two groups of flyfisher-folk. One of our horses came down with colic one morning, but thanks to the efforts of Ben and our wranglers Gary and Paul, among others, she recovered and is now off to winter pasture with the rest of the herd.

Just a few days before we closed the Ranch, we discovered one of this season’s osprey chicks hung up in twine in its nest, unable to escape. Once again, Ben came to the rescue with the help of a friend with a bucket truck, and the osprey was last seen swooping across Trail Lake looking for its next meal.

Most important of all the events this summer was the arrival of Ben and Amanda Verheul’s son, Clayton Thomas. He was born on August 10th at 2:13am in Jackson, WY. He was 7lbs and 19.5 inches at birth and continues to be a happy, healthy baby. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Ranch baby with us! Ben and Amanda offer thanks for all of the prayers and gifts sent their way over the last few months. They look forward to introducing Clayton to many of you next summer.

Andy Blackmun, Director



Summer News, 2011

Greetings of peace to you!

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver

Our first session with Scott Copeland produced lots of wonderful photos of Wyoming wildlife – just as promised. We hope to put some of them on the website gallery soon.

The first session of high school boys from Cincinnati braved snow drifts to hike to the Peak of Whiskey Mountain. It was a cold, snowy spring and snowmelt is only beginning. Nevertheless, the young men made it as did our hike leader, Leah Vader.

The third session of the summer with Dori Baker and Joyce Mercer ends today. The 23 participants had a profound experience of sharing their stories and receiving support. And, after a two hour ride trying to find the Bounced Boulder (how could a 64 ton boulder hide?), one of the girls declared as she came for lunch, “We had the best ride ever!”

As for the rest of the summer sessions: We’re having a full season with most sessions nearing capacity. Even so, we have a few spaces in all the programs except for Marcus Borg. If you wish to come – and we hope you do – please let us know soon.

Volunteer Week: Our great crew put a new roof on the Living Room, refinished the Office exterior, painted new signs, cleaned and cleaned, worked on saddles, sewed curtains, etc., etc.

Scholarships: Partial scholarships are available to people needing assistance to attend programs at the Ranch.

Give us a call at 888.458.5253 toll free.

Peace and all good,
Carl Koch, Director

Baker & Mercer Session