I ignore the dead fly floating in a sea of candle wax while it burns.
I wake up and have to pee, then close my eyes and will another to run to the nearby creek in below freezing temperatures for a bucket of water – a requisite to filling the back of the toilet for each ‘flush.’
I curse my packing skills, having left behind deodorant and now counting 4 days sans shower. Add in 3 teen boys and sweaty games of hockey and you can imagine…
On day 2 of 6 we are without water, no electricity and together huddle around a tiny wood stove. A short-lived endeavor as the stove is on its last day of giving: a small chimney fire and a few hours later we were left with: a big mess, soot everywhere, no heat, and one less wall. Still on day 2, we all move into the much smaller bunk house to sleep – and huddle around an even smaller stove.
But I figure: running water is for wimps. Electricity is overrated. Heat? Who needs it. The fly is dead.
Each year we trek out to the Yaak River Valley in the northeast corner of Montana – our cabin and property is located just miles south of the Canadian border and bordering national forests. Each year is a new adventure: we never know if we will have 4 feet of snow or 4 inches, we hold our breath in hopes of running water and electricity. Each year we auger the lake to determine if it is fit for foot traffic. Or better: snowmobile traffic. Each year we play in the snow, read and play cards, shoot bee bees at soda cans and eat a bottomless supply of snacks and hot chocolate. Since winter daylight is shortened, we play hard early in the day and once dark we retire inside to play games and watch movies.
A year of hoards of snow could mean parking on the road and hiking to our cabins on snowshoes. It would likely mean building snow forts and snowmen, and creating trails for snowmobiles. This year was less snow and thick, smooth ice covering the lake. We cleared a rink for hockey and played countless games – the 3 boys (sons Anthony, Caleb and token son Cosimo – our Italian exchange student) – played Frisbee golf, sledded and skied behind the snowmobile and spun across the ice in go-karts.
We played reams of card games, shot off fireworks for New Year’s eve, watched a fair share of movies, went on snowmobile rides, drank beer by a fire (dug into the snow) and spotted a herd of elk (we counted nearly 40 elk). A vacation we will remember never to forget. And FWIW ‘grandpa and dad’ sourced and had a new part shipped [to not so nearby city of Libby - almost 2 hours away]. Thanks to their trek, on our sixth and final night in the cabins: we had water, electricity, plug-in radiant heaters and importantly a stove, shower and flush-able toilet. That was all just bonus on top of an already fun, memorable week in the woods.
Check out: more photos from this adventure.