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(Spoiler Alert: the answer is Yes.)

Miss the first chapters?  Don't miss out! 
Chapter 1: The Reason for the Journey
Chapter 2: Where We're Going
Chapter 3: The Trail Map
Chapter 4: Provisioning for the Journey

~Yours truly, the Saddle Up! trail bosses. 

Chapter 5: Truth-Checking:  Do we really gotta do this??  The stakes.

Whoa Nelly!  This is shaping up to be a LOT OF WORK, and will require a LOT OF HELP.  This trail has some unknown terrain, and looks to be steep and difficult in places.  Are we SURE we need to do this?  Wouldn’t it be easier to just keep on running camps in Ekone’s current, funky, awesome, homespun facilities?  We are really good at “making do,” after all! 
Actually…yes.  After a thorough search for the “get-out-of-capital-campaign-free-card”, we know that this adventure is not optional, if camps and programs are to continue at Ekone Ranch.  And it’s not just because we want nicer buildings, more space, or a bit more comfort.  Here’s the rest of the story.  

It comes down to durability, long-term safety, and laws.  

Ekone’s beloved buildings were built at a time when standards were different.  Ray was making do with what he had to work with, which did not include much money, materials, or, erm, permits. 
The Yummy Tummy Café was built almost entirely from wood harvested and milled at Ekone.  This is very romantic, but Ponderosa Pine is not durable structural wood.  The YT lacks a proper foundation, the floor joists are too close to the ground, the whole thing is too close to the creek, it’s a damp site, and the building is slowly decaying from the bottom.  We expect to lose at least 1/3 of this building, if not all of it, within 10 years—it will eventually become unsafe and not practical to repair. 
And functionally, it’s just too small.  This season is a big one for yellowjackets, which bloom in 3-year cycles.  In August, we often have multiple stings at every meal, forcing everyone to cram inside at meals, in the worst of summer heat.  Ever seen 50 people try to eat in the YT?  It’s just not workable. 
The Lodge was built well, overall, but we’re finding some real problems with it too.  The footings were undersized, the posts were poured right into the concrete, and there was no vapor barrier.  This led to significant rot.  We methodically replaced every footing, cut out the rot, and properly attached each post to its new footing.  Additionally, many of the headers and beams are undersized—we’ll be reinforcing the entire structure according to properly engineered plans, including structural wings to provide shear strength. 
The Bunkhouse makes everyone’s eyes light up when they walk in, but again—no foundation, pine straight to the ground.  Modern standards also call for fire sprinklers in spaces sleeping 8+.  And it’s just too small—we truly need to be able to accommodate 40+ under a roof.  The tipis are beautiful and romantic, but untenable in cold, wind or rain.  We can and must do better.  (And, heartbreakingly, the straw-bale roundhouse will just never, ever be permitted—it’ll go to the compost heap, with blessings and gratitude!
The driveway is a charming approach through the woods, and we’re loath to change it—but when the County roads department described the need to allow emergency vehicles to come in while people are also going out…it made sense.  We are in fire country, and it’s irresponsible to not address this critical safety concern. 
We also need to provide proper staff housing for this growing, thriving organization.  We can only get so far with trailers, lodge rooms, and DIY housing. 
And, the law.  Turns out we actually need permits!  It also turns out that the rules are there for a reason, mostly—most of what we’re being asked to do is just smart.  

TO BE CLEAR, EKONE IS NOT CURRENTLY HAZARDOUS OR ABOUT TO FALL DOWN.  If the engineers, electrical inspectors, or building advisors that we are working closely with expressed any immediate safety concern, we would address that concern immediately—and we have (such as moving the propane tank that was too close to the kitchen).  It’s true that there are mid-long-term concerns.  It’s true that there are safety features currently lacking, like fire sprinklers in the bunkhouse.  It’s true that we are currently out of compliance with some laws.  But we are working diligently on correcting ALL of this, with the full knowledge, support and approval of Klickitat County, including staying in operation during the process. 
All that to say—yes, we really gotta do this.  If we don’t, Ekone’s buildings will fail, and/or we’ll get shut down by the County, probably within 5 years, maybe 10, but not longer than that.  

So, those are the honest-to-goodness stakes, folks. 
Watch in the coming days for these upcoming chapters of Straight from the Saddle!
Chapter 6: The Dusty Trail Behind Us:  A brief history of Ekone’s facilities and how we arrived at this crossroads.
Chapter 7: How many cowpokes does it take to Saddle Up?  Our team.
Chapter 8: Route Scouts:  The early donors who believed in this journey before we even knew the destination.
"Um, wait a minute.  There's no "click here to donate" button."

You're right.  We are not asking for your donation today--but we both know that we will.  And soon.  We'll be asking everyone we know to   s t  r   e   t    c     h     on behalf of Ekone.

But it's not a decision we want you to make impulsively.  We want you to have all the information, talk to your family and financial advisors, think about who you know, and consider carefully how you might be able to help Ekone Ranch survive and thrive long into the future.

And ideally, we'd love to have a personal conversation with you to talk about your gift, your connections, and other ways you might be able to help.  Ready to schedule that conversation, or simply raise your hand in support of this work?  Please jot your name down HERE and we'll follow up!

Sacred Earth Foundation stewards 1,133 acres in the upper Rock Creek watershed, and is the home of Ekone Summer Camps and White Eagle Memorial Preserve.  ~
509-773-4536 ~

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