My Town – Doug Cole
Mountain Marble Dude Ranch
my town: bonded
When I was 14, my family moved to California and I was introduced to California whitewater rafting through my local Boy Scout troop. Repeated trips to raft on the Klamath River fostered a passion and love for the sport of whitewater rafting and a connection to the Klamath River. My pursuit of the outdoor life continued through high school, college and married life as I guided for rafting outfitters, managed raft companies and ultimately started my own rafting business in 1981. The rafting industry grew rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s, so in a move to remain competitive, I began to search for a unique and diverse outdoor experience that was more than just a wilderness raft trip. The development of a “saddle and paddle” or “raft and ride” outdoor experience that mixes horses with rafting led to creation of Marble Mountain Ranch, and landed us serendipitously in the community of Somes Bar, one of the most diverse cultural and temperate forest regions on earth.
Somes Bar remains an unincorporated community in Siskiyou County, and the pioneer cultural influences continue here on varying levels. This mix of peoples and cultures creates an amazingly diverse community in spite of a remarkably small number of residents. Current cottage businesses include back-country outfitters, fishing guides, loggers, dude ranch resorts, miners, nurseries, wineries, artists, chocolatiers, forest resource managers and more.
Somes Bar’s population hovers around 200, and residents share an intense interest in preservation of the essential qualities and features of the area. People living here typically want to remain here, though opinions on how to manage and protect local culture and natural resources vary. The fundamental geological, biological, cultural and economic diversity of Somes Bar is also the foundation of our diverse offerings at our three-decades-old business venture now known as Marble Mountain Ranch. No other guest ranch offers the in-house outdoor experiences of horseback trail rides, arena riding lessons, whitewater rafting and kayaking, guided steelhead fly fishing, upscale lodging, shooting sports, archery, hiking and other western adventures. Visitors here can collect a warm chicken egg, pick fresh blackberries, raft the Klamath River, ride a horse, work a blacksmith forge, shoot trap, learn of aboriginal culture and more. One visiting family recently did a survey of “life firsts” that unfolded during their week long stay at Marble Mountain Ranch that totaled more than 110 new life experiences.
The bonding of visiting families through shared adventures, meals and explorations of the Klamath National Forest is the essence of our business and life here in Somes Bar. The variety and diversity of life here is also the bonding glue of the community. In Somes Bar, we are different and varied, but connected and bonded. The fabric of our culture and community, as well as our geology and regional biology, sets global standards for a connected diversity. This is my town and my home, a diverse and varied community, and an intimately bonded, woven and connected Somes Bar, California.