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


Business Is Booming At Elk Lake

I have an article finish but no time to finish it. As those of you know who follow this blog, I started an opinion piece on Global Warming - beginning with those speaking for it (and they aren't hard to find), and promising at least one follow up segment for the other side. However, work hasn't allowed me time to finish the second piece. But I will!

In the mean time, the fishing is great! There were numerous 18 - 20 inch fish caught at Hidden Lake on opening weekend. If the number of people says anything, I certainly hope most were catch and release (most we talked to were). Not to be left out of the limelight, Elk Lake produced a beautiful 22 inch - 3 pound plus Westslope Cutthroat. Shhhh - don't tell anyone! It was caught on a worm!

In other wildlife news, a recent trip up Narrows Creek Canyon produced a variety of sightings. A Buffle-head Duck and her three ducklings were darling to watch (however, a couple days later only one duckling remained). A pair of Red-Tail Hawks were watching the ducklings as well (who wants to bet they are the villians in this story?). A Great Blue Heron flew off as I approached the pond, then loudly reproached me for disturbing his respite. A pair of Sandhills also rebuked me for entering their haven - then flew across the canyon to 'safer' ground.

The miriads of colorful butterflies flew up from the stream banks as I walked adding clouds of color. There were even a few birds I'd never noticed before, but which I could not identify as I didn't have my binoculars or my bird book - next time!

However, the highlight of the day was the bull moose Beau flushed out of the willows at the head of the pond. I suspect I never would have seen him were it not for the dog. In fact, both he and the dog were silent throughout their meeting and parting of ways. Nonetheless, I delighted in a great view of him as he trotted up the hillside across the narrow canyon. (But, alas, I left my camera at the lodge!)

Moose sightings actually remain fairly consistent, in spite of the warmer temperatures. Of course, as the area becomes a more popular moose-sighting spot, we are glad some remain on the valley floor to delight their fans.

We've also had regular fox sightings as our local female comes looking for baby food. Then there are the elk sightings which are frequent. Antelope are regularly visible. We've even seen quite a few deer - numerous lone does, two does with tiny fawns, and three nice looking bucks - all near Elk Lake.

It's a wonderful place to be, even if you have to work most of the time!

Lady of the Lake