The End Of A Season
Late Start. Little Snow. Lots of Guests. These are the 'titles' of the 2010 winter season. With next to no early snow and a death in the family, the season started sluggishly. By month end, we actually debated closing early. However, we knew if things turned around next year, we would face an uphill battle letting the world know we really were open for business. Furthermore, the good folks in West Yellowstone (after five years of listening to us complain) put us on the map and convinced us to purchase an add. We hated to disappoint anyone who actually decided to find out where that new trail led.
And so, January faded into February and the snow just did NOT want to fall. However, business started looking up. The first week we actually sold more food than we had to eat to keep it from going bad. Maybe, just maybe February would make us enough to justify keeping the lodge warm.
Week two - better than week one. Weeks three and four - business stayed steady, in fact, at times too steady. For the first time in six winter seasons we ran out of food - TWICE - the day before we were scheduled to restock.
As February drew to a close we watched, amazed, as the people kept coming. Perhaps the most telling comment - the one which told us, more than any other, this was no accident but a real-life blessing - was the one we heard the most. "We were wondering if you were open. There were tracks, but we didn't see anyone else on the trail."
That is not the norm. Typically we hear of this group of 20 or that group of 6 who "passed us heading for the hills" (or heading back to town). Not this year.
As we continued to serve up to and exceeding 30 lunches per day, we realized we were being handed an unexpected (and undeserved) gift. While we scrambled to keep enough supplies, the crowds kept showing up at our door. As February passed into eternity and March rolled around the corner, we expected things to return to January's quiet days. After all, the first full week of March is usually 'okay' but by the second, the tap has been slowed to a trickle. Again, we were surprised.
March 1, 2, 3 - the days flew past. Where are all these people coming from? The snow is thinning. The trail is ROUGH! Why? Yet they came. You'd think we would have gotten the picture. Yet habits die hard.
Look at the books. The last two years agree. It is very slow the second full week of March. After January's slow start, what's the point of keeping the doors open. Thus we decided not to make a new Sysco order. We would just run until we ran out of food or until the usual slow down kicked in.
I am sure you can guess what happened. By the end of that first full week, the food had disappeared. No bacon. No cheese. No burgers. No pickles. I could not help but laugh at myself. Who would have guessed the first week of March would find us with as many lunch guests as the best week in February? Not me, obviously!
Well, accidents happen. Nonetheless, we went into that second full week in March certain we would see next to no one. Did we buy more supplies? Of course not. We weren't going to have anyone to feed. Right? Wrong!
The first day met our expectations. Not a soul in sight. Elk Lake back to the quiet oasis we enjoyed in January. The second day of the second full week brought over FORTY guests! Where did they come from? What were they doing clear out here? Why now? Lunch? Sorry, no food!
Put out the 'Closed' sign, will you, Dear? This is embarrising! Day three - three guests who saw the sign but decided to make the loop. Day four. Quiet. Now this is what we expected.
It all just goes to show one should one should never make assumptions. Just when we thought we had winter figured out, along comes a left hook and catches us unaware. Just when we thought our blessings had dried up, along came a bucketful and drenched us. Just when we thought the economic blues might have reached Elk Lake, the 'world' showed up.
And so the winter of 2010 ended brighter than the winter of 2009 (and I mean more than just the preponderance of gorgeous sunny days)! Oh me of little faith! Thus I pass along to all you winter guests a hearty thanks for coming to see us (many of you more than once), for helping us keep our doors open, and for rolling with the punches when the selection grew thin. You are appreciated!
Lessons learned. Blessings overflowed. The sunshine upon the still-white snow is not the only 'bright' spot in our little world here at Elk Lake!
Lady of the Lake