| T A B L E T A L K More Table Talk
An adventure of a lifetime
The view from Katherine Lott’s hillside massage studio invites you to take a deep breath and let your shoulders drop. Deer graze in the wide green valley and the only signs of human intervention are five Native American tepees and a sweat lodge in the distance. Most afternoons at least two flocks of turkeys gobble past Lott’s unpretentious wooden building, and she says she’s grown quite fond of the frisky little ground squirrels that scamper across the grass.
This uncompromisingly natural setting is Hidden Creek Ranch, a Northwest guest ranch located an hour’s drive from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. Lott is the ranch’s massage therapist and facilitates the Body, Mind, Spirit Well-Being Program. In addition to offering Swedish, sports/circulatory and hot stone massage, reflexology and aromatherapy, she leads ranch guests in yoga, visualization and meditation classes.
Such a program might seem a little odd at a dude ranch, but guests and staff alike heartily endorse this addition to a vacation seeped in outdoor activities.
“Both from my own experience as a client and from what our guests tell me, I can definitely say that massage rejuvenates the body after a day of playing hard. An hour or so of massage with Katherine and you’re relaxed, open to new experiences and full of positive energy and inner calm,” says Kevin Ray, a wrangler at Hidden Creek.
Until last year, the 41-year-old had lived and worked in Lubbock, Texas, all her life. She ran two successful businesses, an eight-year-old massage-therapy practice and a custom wall painting and design company. Her son and daughter were in college, the nest was feeling empty and she was ready for some adventure. Traveling around the United States with an Air Stream trailer hooked behind her car and practicing massage in RV parks had crossed her mind, then she happened upon an ad in a magazine.
“I was reading Outside [magazine] and when I got to the classified section, I saw a Web site called adventurejobs.com,” she says in her soft Texas drawl. “Now, I’m not interested in bungee jumping or being a whitewater guide–at least not yet–but I was curious. Then I thought, ‘Why am I doing this?’ So I got kind of quiet and that was when I realized that at this point in my life I want to work in a beautiful place."
With a few computer keystrokes, her life changed. By April of 2002 she’d closed her businesses, found a tenant for her house, kissed the kids goodbye and driven over 1,200 miles from one state’s panhandle to another.
And even though the forested North Idaho setting of Lott’s adventure destination is drastically different from her buff-colored Texas home, her clients are surprisingly similar. You might expect them to have a whole host of unusual aches and pains–after all, they’ve been riding horses for hours or mountain biking over hilly trails or mentally and physically willing themselves up the 60-foot climbing wall–in short, doing any manner of things they don’t normally do at home.
“I thought I was going to turn into the best bottom massager in Idaho,” Lott laughs. Granted, there are a lot of sore behinds, but the majority of Lott’s clients have simply packed their stress and their recurrent physical issues along with their jeans and their high hopes for a memorable vacation. What they don’t know is that stress doesn’t stand a chance at a ranch whose motto is “Calm Your Soul” and whose philosophy celebrates nature and the body, mind and spirit connection.
“They have to let down,” Lott says. “All the old pressures are gone–traffic, schedules, expectations. They eventually surrender to me. Or to the ranch. This place does that to you.”