Derrick digs out the Argo. Let the journey begin.

Just over 2 weeks ago, we returned from what is becoming our annual ice road adventure. The water level will be nice and high this year at Lloyd Lake—there has been record snowfalls. Around the lodge, the snow is 4 feet deep in many places. Thanks to the enormous amount of snow, getting into the lodge also meant getting stuck at least 30 times. No exaggeration. And we’re not talking a little bit stuck, folks. We’re talking standing-in-waist-deep-snow-shovelling-out-a-buried-Argo-and-snowmobile stuck. It was fun!

The shallow snow, as modelled by Dez.
“Which way is the road supposed to go? I’m standing on 6 feet of snow!”
Stuck for the second time in 2 minutes.
Making our own path to the middle of nowhere.
Yes, we have to cross that. It’s called the beginnings of an ice road, people.
We made it to the lake!
Hello cabin 3. Glad you’re still standing under all that snow!
Hard to believe, but this is the dock and beach. Fear not, guests of 2013. It will melt.

Over a week, we resupplied the lodge with essentials, like 1,200 pounds of quarts counter tops for the kitchen, new heaters for all the cabins, and a solid mahogany poker table…you know, the essentials. These will all be installed and ready to go when our first guests arrive on May 26.

Say hello to the Ranger, a.k.a. the shiny new transport from the airstrip to the lodge and between lakes. Oh yeah! Who can say they’ve driven a Polaris Ranger over an ice road to a fishing lodge? Derrick’s got one fewer item on his bucket list.
We hauled everything in as fast as possible so that we could maximize our ice fishing time. Even at that pace, it took 6.5 days. Hauling in each load took 4.5 hours, meaning we could do 3 trips a day if we were out the door at 6 a.m. It was hard work. We slept like babies every night.

Last load!
Derrick is dreaming about the fishing…after we unpack and organize everything we’ve hauled in.

And after all that, we had a blast exploring Lloyd Lake and Big Fish Lake in winter. After long days of work, it was so rewarding to drop a line and hook into some trophy fish. There was one incredible evening where the fish gods smiled down on us and we hooked into a couple of gorgeous pike, mere minutes apart.

“Um…Dez? Do we have a bigger auger?”
All is right in the world.
Little brother.
BIG brother. (Real story: Derrick hooked this one and passed Dez the rod. Thanks bro.)

As much as we would like to paint a glamorous picture that everything ran smoothly, it didn’t. While the wild beauty of northern Saskatchewan is breathtaking, it becomes downright treacherous in a second when your machine breaks down. We all agree that buying and properly maintaining the Argo is the best money we have spent at the lodge yet. We definitely had to rely on each other and on the trustworthiness of our equipment. On the final day, with everything having gone way too good to be true, we found ourselves hiking 4 miles in pretty deep snow. Mr. Argo had (temporarily) had enough.

Gorgeous. And scary.

It’s moments like this when you truly feel alive. What made the walk so much better was when I reached into my pocket and found 2 chocolate bars. We laughed over it after. Here’s the thing: initially the feeling of isolation and even desperation is overwhelming and makes you panicked. Lucky for us, by talking things out and using our heads, we were able to troubleshoot the problem and repair it so we could get back on the way. Nevertheless, for those moments, if you can’t rely on the people around you and don’t have a positive attitude, you could find yourself in great danger.

But enough about the serious stuff. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2013. Tight lines until then!

The man who “can’t catch walleye.” Good one, dad!
“Whoa! It’s bright out here. Where’s my shades, man?!”
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