As the expediting process comes to an end, the excitement of leaving the busy city life to the paradise known as Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge intensifies. The entire crew is itching to return to a place where the work is hard and endless, but life becomes more simple and enjoyable.
The initial drive up river is peaceful and gorgeous. The abundant wildlife – cow moose and their calves, bears and wolfs are making their way to the river’s edge to greet us – of course then run away when they see us! The sounds of spring are echoing through the air. However, mother-nature is our business partner and we never know what “gifts” she has left for us during our time away. As we draw closer to the lodge the questions begin to flood our minds. What unexpected surprises will we face since our early March visit? What did the snow loads do to the roofs? Which buildings will need to be fixed? Did a bear ransack the lodge again? How much erosion has occurred when the ice went out? Will we be able to the water running from the wellhead? Is the generator and solar system ready for another year? Will Blair become the Viking he’s always wanted to be? The questions are endless as is the work to prepare for the season opener. A part of the season that we affectionately call “hell month”.
Hell month is quite a statement, but the endless hours of work and lashings is where it gets its name. All the spring clean-up and improvements take a lot of time and energy especially when you operate the most remote lodge in Alaska. This time of the year is sure to bring torrential downpours – which is needed to help the ground thaw, but it makes for a muddy mess everywhere on the property. We got lucky this season and the rains didn’t start until our second week here, so we were able to get tons of things done without sinking to our knees in mud. And equally lucky this year there was no bear ransacking, no collapsed roofs and no surprises. We finally get a year where we can get straight to work on the general maintenance, lodge improvements and of course our luscious garden and grounds. Sounds easy enough right? Fixing all the things the harsh environment left its mark on. From the yard to the tower, it seems everything needs attention. The ice makers need new valves, the loading ramp needs to be rebuilt, the docks need replacement, the main lodge roof needs some repairs and the sauna roof needs total replacement – these are just a few examples. It is a never ending list that seems to always come down to the wire before the season opener. Adding to the fun is the fact that we can’t just run to the store to pick up what we need. Although Amazon Prime has become a very useful tool indeed.
We’ve got an awesome mill on-sight for making dimensional lumber. But so many times we find ourselves brainstorming on how creatively fix the unexpected. Our fearless leader Cliff is a genius at making chicken soup out of chicken poop and has taught us all well over the years.
Now please don’t take any of this as complaining of any sort – quite the contrary. Getting through these challenges and “surprises” that pop up every spring are what make all of us so proud to be a part of the most remote lodge in Alaska and we wouldn’t have it any other way. As hell month continues the excitement for the season builds and we can’t wait to for our guest to arrive. Some come as strangers but all who leave here become a part of the Anvik River Lodge family. We can’t wait for the 2017 season to begin so we can see everyone enjoy the fruits of our labors!
Yours in the Wilderness – J.D. and the Anvik Lodge Gang