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Ryder Lake Ramble: Chilliwack's return to the country

An alpaca munches away during a previous Ryder Lake Ramble. - Paul J. Henderson
An alpaca munches away during a previous Ryder Lake Ramble.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson

Whether you come for the llamas, the gardens or the soup, the Ryder Lake Ramble has something for everyone.

Peter Whitlock, who has organized the ramble since 2007, says this year’s tour includes two kinds of goats, heritage chickens, award-winning irises, mountain paths, a gourmet lunch and a healthy helping of community spirit—just to name a few aspects.

“It means you’re spending several hours with your neighbours and sharing in this,” he explains. “We have a really nice community up here and this just brings everyone together to contribute to it.”

About 75 volunteers pitch in to help Ryder Lake really shine for the weekend, and Whitlock says a fair number of residents make a few stops along the tour themselves; it’s a chance to see what’s new in the neighbourhood and touch base with the community as a whole.

The majority of visitors up the mountain, however, come from the Valley—a sneak peek into one of Chilliwack’s quietest communities, tucked away into Mount Thom above Promontory.

“We often get a lot of people out of the hotels in Vancouver—farmers from Holland and Germany who come out to the valley to see what farming is like in British Columbia,” Whitlock says.

And even if you’re not in the mood to wander around the mountain, the gourmet lunch on offer at the Ryder Lake Hall is worth making a trip for: Ryder Lake-based gourmet chefs from Incredible Edibles will be baking cinnamon buns all morning, and have three kinds of soup on simmer for lunch, including spicy vegan squash soup and jalepeno, corn, potato and ham chowder.

The hall is also the site of a massive two-day plant sale during the Ramble, and the lush plants pair with the gourmet lunch to make an unbeatable combo.

“I the past we’ve found we have just as many people who come for the lunch and the plant sale as go on the Ramble,” Whitlock says with a laugh.

But heading out to the nine other stops on the ramble is also well worth an afternoon’s wander. Whitlock especially recommends Henry Pauls’ award-winning irises, which will be in full bloom.

“It’s like a Matisse painting up the hillside, with a creek running through the middle,” Whitlock says. “It’s just a spectacular location.”

• The Ryder Lake Ramble runs on June 14 and 15, starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday, and ending at 5 p.m. both days. Tickets for the ramble are available at the Ryder Lake Hall at $5 per person or $15 per carload, and more information about tickets and stops is available at www.ryderlakeramble.ca.

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