Agony and Ecstacy

Although life at Elk Lake most often falls inot the 'ecstacy' category, the 'agony' part has to play a role at times. It's like they say, you can't appreciate sunshine if you haven't endured many a cloudy day.

And so, in the last week we've enjoyed the ecstacy of a project nearly completed, and the agony of conflicts with the Forest Service.

First, the good news. The Ranch House is nearly complete. In fact, the interior is finished except for some final trim installation and painting. What a monkey off our backs! It seems like we've been working on this project FOREVER! However, if I consider where we started and to what point we have arrived, we have made incredible progress.

It looks great. It was an affirmation to have the accolades of a group who have been coming to Elk Lake for about 30 years. Upon viewing the 'new and improved' ranch house each one said something to the effect, "I want to stay in THERE!"

What encouraging words! Now to finish painting the exterior trim and putting on the metal roof. Then - well, then we're finished until the end of the season when we'll complete the inside trim and painting.

All of life seems to need tempering. I guess, sometimes, life here is so sureal(sureal in that we live so far from the violence, stress, and pressures of the rest of the world - don't take that to mean we don't have a few of our own just keeping the business running smoothly - at least all but the violence part, at least to date!) we need to be reminded all is not so 'nice' in the rest of the world.

And, so, the USFS took it upon themselves to bring us a reality check. First in the form of our local ATV ranger. John is basically a nice guy. However, in accomplishing his duty, he is an irritation to our guests - in one way. It is his job to enforce no ATV riding of 'non-street legal' ATVs on the Hidden Lake road between Elk Lake Resort and Hidden Lake.

John has no choice but to tell our guests (the one time of year we actually have guests who ride their ATVs up to Hidden) they are violating the law by doing so. However, as he knows - and everyone else who drives Hidden Lake road knows - every year the road becomes more 'practical' and 'safe' to traverse with an ATV than a truck. And, for years, because the road has no pull-outs for passing and because it gets deeper wash outs and ruts each year, the road has been vastly safer on an ATV than in a truck pulling a trailer load of ATVs.

The one 'good' thing which may come out of this is we may, finally, get the USFS to take the necessary steps to change the road to dual-purpose. A change which, in our opinion, should have taken place years ago.

The other reality check sent our way courtesy of the Forest Service was a suggestion Elk Lake may need to be changed from a 'wake' lake to a 'no-wake' lake. Oddly enough, this suggestion was made based on the fear that my efforts to improve Elk Lake Road will eventually come to fruition and, at that point, the lake will be inundated with ski boats and jet skies.

Of course, this inundation will be a source of undying frustration for our local fishermen. Thus, the USFS was greatly surprised when hubby and I didn't jump in with both feet to support this 'wise' change.

In fact, hubby and I did jump in with both feet - to oppose this change! After all, our two biggest weekends of the year are in July and feature a little bit of water skiing and a little bit of jet skiing. Loss of these two groups would greatly deplete our summer income.

In addition, Elk Lake is too cold for all but the most foolhardy water skier or jet skier until early to mid July - and fishing is poor that time of year. Therefore the chances of conflict are nearly if not completely eliminated due to the very nature of the lake itself.

Oddly enough, the USFS suggestions were made based on no environmental, economic, or sociological studies. There has been no environmental damage done. There has been no economic impact studies completed. There have been NO complaints.

Huh? Just leaves me scratching my head. However, I have hope that our Forest Service personnel, now armed with some information, will take a step back and reconsider their stance on this issue. If not - well, I'll be calling on all you water enthusiasts to help us keep open one of the few wake lakes in the huge Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Lady of the Lake

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