Why Do People Come To Elk Lake?
I suppose it seems like a straightforward question, but the answer can be anything but straightforward. In fact, it can be downright difficult to put into words.
When I try to tell people what it is about Elk Lake which has captured me, I often find myself struggling for adequate terminology. How do you put a feeling into words? How do you explain a pomegranate to someone who has never seen a piece of fruit? Elk Lake is that different, that unique. It sometimes defies my best attempts to verbalize the essence of the place.
Nonetheless, people come. People from every walk of life. People from countries across the globe. People old and young. People from the city. People from the country.
Obviously Elk Lake does not just appeal to people from a certain social status or even geographic region, but appeal to some it does. However, as perfect as Elk Lake's fans believe it to be, it is not for everyone!
In the past six years we have probably had about that many guests who really did not like Elk Lake. In addition, I have talked many more out of coming - not because we do not want to share, not because we do not appreciate the business - but as much as I love Elk Lake, I know it will not appeal to some folks.
However, to those who love it, there really is no place which compares. So, what brings people to Elk Lake? More important what bring them back (because most return and the majority of those who do not speak longingly of 'one day when. . .')?
For some it is the wildness. Granted Elk Lake is not the only place which has escaped the ravages of time, but it is one of the few which is semi-easy to access in the lower 48. Furthermore, while some places are wild now, you know that is likely to change. Given enough time and enough people, some developer is bound to 'civilize' the place.
That is one reason I am thankful for the abundance of public land surrounding Elk Lake. Forest service land. State land. BLM land. Federal wildlife refuge land. And, thanks to the efforts of The Nature Conservancy, many of the large privately-held tracts of land in the valley are protected under conservation easements. Not that I have anything against subdivisions and people moving to more rural settings, but it is nice to know some places are unlikely to change much.
Speaking of not changing - that is another reason people come to Elk Lake. I have listened to 60+ year old men (and women) talk about their childhood memories of coming to Elk Lake with their parents or grandparents. The single thread which binds all of these stories together is the inevitable comment, "It's just like I remember it!"
Elk Lake's wildness does not appeal to everyone. Wildness implies a bit of tension - perhaps running into a bear or wolf. To some people, this is not thrilling. It is frightening. However, even folks frightened at this prospect are drawn to the peace and serenity which seems to surround the area.
In a world which pulls at us from every direction, more and more people are looking for someplace they can really relax. Even during our 'down-time', the phone or the door or the fax or the TV or the internet always seem to bring interruptions. Sometimes we just need to escape the voices of our 'electronic servants' (and the rest of the world) and just relax.
With no noise or light diffusion, with no TVs or telephones in the cabins, with no paved roads, lawn mowers, or honking horns, at Elk Lake stress seems to run out of your body like water. That feeling has caused folks to return year after year, some for twenty-five or thirty years or more!
Of course there is the natural beauty. We are all surrounded by beauty of one kind or another. The beauty in a flower. The glories of a puffy-cloud filled sky. The brilliant green of a spring meadow. The color splash of a blooming tree. These and more bring beauty into our daily lives. However sometimes people just like to get away from the 'manmade' contraptions which fill their skyline. That is easy to do at Elk Lake!
Perhaps even more amazing are the stories from those who have not only called Elk Lake home - they have called Elk Lake work. The previous owners all have their unique stories to tell. Experiences unlike those of any other owner. Yet, invariably, somewhere in the conversation every previous owner has expressed essentially the same thing: The best years of my life were the years I spent at Elk Lake!
Whatever the reason, people come to Elk Lake. And, more often than not, they leave here scratching their heads. "What is it?" they ask. "What makes this place so special? Why does it draw me like a magnet?" My reply is always the same. I do not know. It is special - what more can I say? Words may not be adequate to express the feeling, but time after time Elk Lake has worked its magic. Invariably I'm looking forward to returning even before I've even left!
Lady of the Lake