Elk Lake News is an online newsletter for friends of our Rocky Mountain Resort. Whether they come to relax in the Montana mountains, to enjoy a family vacation package in the Centennial Valley, or to pursue their own 'trails' in our wide open spaces...our guests always leave with a new ‘home' in the mountains. We welcome new friends, too. Check out our web page with the link below...or drop us a note on our blog. We'd love to hear from you!
While the month has not yet ended, I’m going to go ahead and
say March is going out like a lion.It
has been snowing pretty steadily since yesterday around noon and believe it or
not, it’s the heaviest snowfall we’ve received since Christmas. The entire yard was bare just two days ago and
now it’s covered by 3-4” of fresh, fluffy snow.Both Jake and I love the snow…but we were also pretty jazzed about Spring
And indeed Spring did arrive early!In my past post I was waiting to see if Jake
would be able to get our truck back in from its winter home out at Henry’s Lake.And he did!But his trip out on our little two-wheel-drive quad was not without
drama.Everything was fine and dandy on
the Montana side of the Continental Divide, but the snow and ice was thicker on
the Idaho side.At one precipitous
point, Jake said the quad was sliding sideways down the road and all he could
do was hold on and go for the ride.By
his account the sideways ride lasted only about 30’ but it felt like a mile and
a half.At least he was facing the bank.
It was a happy moment when I heard the throaty rumble of our
truck headed toward the Lodge so I jumped out to snap some pictures of the
homecoming.It may sound silly to those
of you who don’t live this lifestyle, but it really is like a family member
coming home.And while neither Jake nor
I mind being isolated from the rest of the world during winter, it’s nice to
know we CAN easily go to town any time we want.
My first adventure “out” was to accompany Jake to pick up
our little trailer out on Red Rock Road.Kanela was not about to be left behind and I’m not sure who had more fun
being “on the road again.”
I had to take some pictures of Centennial Valley, of
course.Every time Jake returned from
snowmobiling out for groceries, he would wax poetic about the beauty of the
Valley and he was right.The mountains
far off in the distance were so pristinely beautiful with their marshmallow
topping.And closer in a couple of moose
But some parts of the road where downright ugly.
We finally got to our sad little trailer abandoned by the
side of the road.It looked like a
really bad piece of sculpture and I can only imagine the head shaking and
scratching that went on when others passed by it.We loaded the mangled mess into the back of
the truck and brought it home for some much needed attention.The skis are toast but we don’t have to worry
about that until next winter since the trailer is now wearing its summer tires.
Our next outing was to Bozeman to get a jump start on bringing
in summertime supplies.Not much of a
story there except for this…a thing called “woods queerness”…”brought on by
solitude and a growing awareness of the emptiness all around.”The term comes from a wonderful book published
in 1942 entitled, We Took To The Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich.It’s a true story about a couple who lived
deep in the woods in Maine for many years.At one point Louise realized she hadn’t been Outside for four years and
she wondered if she was going “woods queer.”It manifests itself in little ways, like when you finally re-enter
civilization you see hidden meanings in what people say or the way they look at
you.It can make you question and
scrutinize your every thought and act.Going
to Bozeman for me was perhaps not this dramatic, but I did find myself being
hyper-aware of how I was acting in the shops and trying not to overwhelm
ordinary people with my propensity to be really friendly and talk too much. (I
know from living in the big city of Boston for years that being too friendly is
perceived as “odd.”)
I think I did a pretty good job of holding it together.Or did I…
Picking up where I left off on my last post…there is no “perfect
world.”Jake did make it out to the
truck on our little 2-wheel-drive ATV but the Pass remained “impassable” to street
vehicles.He was able, however, to get
to town for a few heads of lettuce and bags of tomatoes which he carried in a
cooler strapped to the back of the ATV.The ATV is so small that with a cooler on back, Jake has to scrunch all
the way forward on the machine…he ends up looking a bit like an adult trying to
ride a tricycle.
So, with the knowledge in hand that we wouldn’t be able to
put in “a big Sysco order” (as we had fantasized), we decided to put in a “bare
minimum Sysco order” to see us through at least a few weeks.We can carry two large coolers on our trailer
so we ordered two boxes each of the three most vital components to our lunches:
hamburgers, buns, and fries.
Since Jake had to cover several miles of dirt pulling our
trailer with skis attached, he decided to screw metal flashing on the bottoms
to protect the plastic from the sharp rocks.(He couldn’t replace the skis with wheels because he knew there was too
much snow on the Pass to get through.)Well, that flashing lasted about 2 miles before the screw heads sheared
off and the metal went a-flappin’ down the road.A few miles later, one of the skis decided it
had had ENOUGH and twisted itself sideways and then backwards rendering the
trailer unusable for a good long time.
Knowing that he had no option but to move forward, Jake
unhooked the trailer and dragged it to the ditch, to be recovered when we (by
that I mean “he”) could get back out to it to replace the skis with
wheels.Meanwhile, the Sysco order was
already in West Yellowstone awaiting Jake’s arrival, so he hightailed it to the
truck and sped on his way.I’m sure he
was doing some pretty deep head scratching during that ride trying to figure
out how he was going to the our load of groceries back to the Lodge!Well, as it turns out, he was so preoccupied
with those thoughts that he forgot the month’s bank deposit in his backpack
which was sitting out in the wide open on the back of the ATV back at Henry’s
You can just imagine the panic that set in.
Jake hightailed it back to Henry’s Lake, tummy rumbling
because he didn’t even stop to pick up a bite to eat, all the while cursing his
luck, the weather, the trailer, and anything else that popped into his mind.I’m pretty sure I even made the list a time
or two.But no harm, no foul…the
backpack and deposit were right where he left them.
After more head scratching, Jake did manage to load all the food
onto our modest little quad and then sloshed his way home through the mud and
the muck.He arrived filthy and
exhausted but triumphant in his success at getting provisions back to the Lodge
to keep our doors open for our guests.I
wish I had pictures of this adventure to help tell the story, but then again it’s
probably best I was nowhere around.Sometimes a guy just needs to have a little space.
Freezers restocked and frig full, we have been whiling away
the days enjoying a slow trickle of guests who still find their way here
despite the lack of snow.Our youngest
winter guest arrived on her own machine…all of eleven years old and already
brave enough to handle herself not only on the rough mountain trails, but also
across the lengthy expanse of frozen lake she had to cross to get to the Lodge.
I hadn’t been out on iced-over Elk Lake all winter,
partially because the idea gives me the heebee-geebees, but also because I
haven’t had the chance to spend a lot of time on a snowmobile.I took at lesson from that little 11-year-old
girl.I put my big girl pants on and
bravely ventured out onto the ice.
It was exhilarating.Snowmobiling in and of itself is fun and can be breathtaking, but being
out on slick ice is another thing.The
back end of the machine likes to sashay around so there is a need for
correcting much like you would if a vehicle started slipping on the ice.Of course speed impacts one’s ability to do
this successfully, so I was consistently yards behind Jake who went flying up
In this case he was coming AT me!
It’s a good thing I took advantage of the ice when I did
because ever since that short ride, the temperatures during the day have gotten
up to the mid-40s.I don’t think the ice
is going to disappear any time soon, but it’s prudent to error on the side of
caution when you live in the middle of nowhere. By the way, we spent the rest of the evening gazing at the beautiful sky!
And with these warm temperatures comes the information that
Red Rocks Road has been plowed open from the Henry’s Lake side.Jake rode the ATV out to the truck today and called
back to report that while the Pass is very iced over, he intends to bring the
truck back home today.I’ll let you know
how THAT turns out in the next post.