Fast forward through the season 2023
Updated: Oct 31
We got into camp the middle of May…May 14. Matt had done 2 trips to camp already and guaranteed that the ice would be off by the time we all got there. Moving in was wonderful and fun for all of us. Being back in the wilderness, the open air and all together is exactly what we crave after a long winter of school, work and extracurricular activities….freedom to be in the moment without a schedule and racing around. We love the first two weeks of being in camp together. We know why we are there and what is coming…the anticipation of our first guests because there are always last minute things we have on our list to get finished.
May gave us some beautiful weather, I think we only had one fire in our cabin during the first 2 weeks And I think the kids were wearing shorts around camp from day 1.
Matt acquired a large van body over the winter and he moved our generators from their current building into the van body…not an easy cut and dried task! He had to rewire everything and dig in lines and actually move our 2 large generators over into the new location. The old generator building turned into our ice house, water filtration area and storage. THe move and reconfiguration of the old building took a bit of time and elbow grease to get up to snuff. Guests still help themselves to bagged ice and now there is a refrigerator in the building so they can also grab their frozen bait at the same time.
We put the dock in on May 22 to be ready for the first day of fishing on May 25. Matt and I take the season dates very seriously and always like to get out on opening day for a quick fish…pending weather of course. The water levels always start out low, but this year they were a tad lower than usual. We hoped for rain and a good runoff but those things never really happened. We were in the davin River on opening day and Matt tagged a rock…lol So we call Prairie rec in PA and ordered 4 props for the season in anticipation for some damaged equipment.
So May had some fantastic weather and it maybe skewed the ice off fishing and pushed the trout deeper earlier, but our first guests on May 31 still had an awesome time! By the time June rolled around and we were in the swing of things, it was clear that we needed rain. I think there was maybe 3 feet of water at the end of the dock so we started the season about a foot lower than usual. June had beautiful weather, we did get some rain when we needed it but not the monsoon rains we normally see in June. The water levels never really came up at all and by the end of June we were wondering where the mountain runoff was. Water levels were dropping slowly and it was getting a bit tricky getting into the portage.
July weather was less than desirable…it was cool and windy, more like June weather minus the rains. The water level was concerning and we were down to about 2 feet at the end of the dock. Freja was in the water but it was clear there would be no actual swimming…you could alligator crawl in the shallows but you couldn’t actually do a swim stroke….so super sad for her because she anticipated practicing all summer to be really strong for her winter swim team season…such is life though. The portage was really showing the drop in water levels and so was wathaman. Dryshod rock was completely out of the water and Wathaman as a whole was down about 4-5 vertical feet…shocking! Matt and I were already trying to figure out an alternate route over to Wathaman in the event our water levels didn’t return to low normal levels by 2024. Irvin had said there was a winter pass to get over to wathaman and we figured we had located it on the Davin side but never needed to check it out on the wathaman side. Over to wathaman one day and found the wathaman side pass…looked decent. We fished into the bay and caught probably a dozen pike which we were happy about. The shore line in the bay looked promising…pebbley rocks, good landing spot but big trees. Got out and walked up the shoreline and into the forest…The trees at the shoreline were undermined, washed out and hollowed roots due to normal to high water levels. We walked up and up and up the forest hill, figuring there COULD be a sled trail through in the winter. THe distance over land from davin to wathaman is probably as long as our runway, but there are huge trees to negotiate and could we make it a trail to use a quad to get from the davin side to the wathaman side?…to be determined. We will check it out this winter and make some necessary cuts if we need it to be viable for the 2024 season. If it wont work, Wathaman may need some other adjustments for 2024, stay tuned.
Locals were saying that 2023 was a 50 year low for water levels. We had heard that lodges on reindeer and Wollaston with permanent docks had no water at the end and were having to pull boats daily because they had no where to tie off to…shocking! At least we weren’t the only lake that was dealing with record low water…all lakes and bodies of water on the eastern side of the province were recording drastic lows. It could take years for water levels to return to “normal”….but what is normal really? We have no idea…we have seen highs and lows and everything in between in 7 years. Remember when we were bringing boats and eq1uipment from wathaman to Davin…we were driving boats back and forth through the portage!
Even though we were dealing with minimal rain and low water levels, we were not under the threat of fire like other years, but we definitely were dealing with smoke from the Alberta and BC fires just like the rest of the province. We had an American couple who cancelled because they were sensitive to wildfire smoke and didn’t want to come up if there would be lots of wildfire smoke…no way to predict so better be safe and cancel than suffer and be out the money for such a big trip…totally understood what they were feeling.
August brought the shortest break in the action for us. Matt had already done 7 trips to wathaman and I had been in the kitchen for nearly 60 days without a break…we didn’t book time off for the family and we knew we would have a busy season, so this was a much appreciated break even if it was just for a few days. No rest for the wicked though, just a chance to catch up on things, get our heads screwed back on and ready up for the last wave. August weather was beautiful and warm…lots of wading in the shallows and suntanning on shore. Water levels continued to drop and we were out marking new reefs that had appeared, there were more than a few! These were rock reefs that were never a concern. As the water dropped, our concerning reefs were now out of the water and those that were previously six feet under water were now just under the surface and would be a leg breaker. Always learning something new up there! We were down to about 18’ of water at the end of the dock…Matt was backing his boat down the dock to his parking spot because the shoreline just kept growing and growing! As the season started to wind down at the end of the month he took over parking at the end of the dock. We have a plan to add more land pieces to our dock to reach us out further towards the drop off…we will have to see the snow pack and spring water levels and devise a concrete plan. There is lots to think about and plan for.
September was a beautiful month!! Above average temperatures, lots of fish to catch and still many more guests through camp. Matt’s cousins were our last group through to Wathaman at the beginning of the month and it was their first time to our neck of the woods or even as far North as we are. Little dicey getting in/out but they had a great time and the fishing was incredible for them. Our long awaited friends Kelly and Chuck from Oklahoma returned for another wonderful week with us! I always talk about Kelly in these posts because he is one heck of a die hard fisherman for Davin Lake and everything else we have to offer. Kelly patiently awaits every blog post, every social media update and of course every year he gets to spend a week with us in camp and on the lake. He was worried about us this year because we essentially went radio silent so he knew we were busy. He also spent many hours thinking of us and our success and essentially came up with a few ideas to get us to slow down. His mandate was clear and entirely understood by us…we need to change some things. Thanks big brother, for your concern, your friendship and your appreciation for our little slice of paradise.
I took the kids out pretty much the day after Kelly and Chuck left on September 15/16. They were done…ready to go, ready for school, ready for a social life again. It was a whirlwind 10 day trip home that included shopping, haircuts, first day of school pics, starting back up with extracurricular activities etc. Pray for me because Freja is playing the flute this year lol. She started back with the Riptides and is swimming 4 days a week and will be doing as many competitions as she can this winter. Milo is back to getting straight A’s and has reactivated his gym membership to go 4 days a week as well. Not sure how hard he works while he is there but at least he is there. He moved out to the camper this summer and had gained independence and confidence with that. When we got home I took him out to Pa’s farm so he could go driving in the fields…something he dreams about all the time! Last week he took his tip money and earnings and bought Shirley from Pa. He’s a ways off from getting his licence but he has the truck for when he gets his learners. In the meantime, it is parked in the driveway and he is detailing it, changing oils, filters etc. He is in his glory!! We have always said we look forward to every day our children grow and learn and getting a licence is no exception…I cannot wait until he is driving and neither can he lol
So I was home for about 10 days and got back to camp on September 29. Matt had 2 Independent groups through while I was at home but he was also busy getting started on our closing list. I do not like it when he does semi dangerous things while no one is in camp…no operating a chainsaw!! That’s pretty much my only stipulation…nothing like getting bonked on the head with massive tree and dying for no reason at all. So he was clearing some trees out of the area where the new cabins are going using our little tractor…then proceeded to take the clutch out of it. F&%#)U(@&C$@K!! So what next?? Bring the tractor out of course! Truly shitty thing but we should have placed restrictions around the usage of the little tractor…he was def using it past its intended capacity…he realizes that now. It will be a winter project and an extra load in the spring, but hopefully we/he treats it a little more gentler in the future. We were hoping to dig piles this fall, but that will have to wait for spring.
What did we do for 10 days? Cut trees, split wood, fished, closed things down and relaxed…we deserved it. It was one hell of a year. Fished some beautiful days and caught dozens and dozens of fish, I didn’t get my trophy this year but honestly I didn’t need to. All I needed was to be out on the lake or around camp breathing some fresh air, calming my mind and connecting with my spouse without having a time limit put on us. It’s always hard to come out at the end of the season but I think Matt has a tougher time than me. I want a hairdresser and a chiropractor on speed dial…he wants to keep growing his beard and not be in public! I think we were both ready this year though…ready to finish the chapter that was year 7.
I want to close out this blog post by sharing what I wrote on our YEAR 7 “about us” page. Some of you may have never read through our “about us” page but I always put up a summary from our family point of view. Following year 7, I will volunteer some more personal information. I’m sure Matt will tell me I have to remove it, but this is my journey too and I think it needs to be said.
We had some very serious things going on back at home throughout the season...Things that made us realize how truly helpless we are when we are in camp. We cannot go back home and provide support, hold a hand, give a hug or say goodbye. We understand this but it was still very difficult to be faced with those challenges throughout such a busy season. Also, no one knows what we are going through, so to remain professional throughout difficult situations can be a challenge.
The work! Wow were we busy...11 slots at the outpost, revolving door at the Davin camp...no real break in the action. Milo was the camp hero in our eyes this year. Without Pa this season, Milo totally stepped up into a major role. Boats in/out of the lake, cleaned, prepped & fuelled, garbage runs, recycling this kid did it all without complaining....well, minimal complaints! We didn't know until late May that Pa would not make it up this season and while we missed him dearly in camp this year, Milo really stepped into a formal role with daily responsibilities that are essential to smooth camp operations. Milo also moved out this year...into Pa's camper across the runway lol. He loved it and he flourished with the independence..not many parents can say that about their kids when they moved out.
Kevin...our other camp saviour. Thank you for all your hard work, your countless trips throughout the season and of course your friendship and love for Davin lake Lodge...your bromance with Matt is super sweet to witness lol. We can't imagine a season without you.
We thank all of our 2023 guests for your enthusiasm, patience & cooperation. We are just a family who is dedicated to this place and who works extremedly hard to provide and maintain such a wonderful place for people to come and visit. Our whole world revolves around making Davin Lake Lodge a more comfortable and accessible home away from home for us and for all of our guests. We all are so happy and so very full of gratitude that our guests and friends continue to choose Davin Lake Lodge year after year. Raise your glass with us.....CHEERS TO YEAR 7.....2023 AND BEYOND!! We will continue to dream and plan for the future so we can share Davin Lake Lodge with everyone who wants to visit. We share every single moment from ice off and startup, every fish big or small, breakfasts, shore-lunches, campfires, rainy days, starry nights, a beer and a laugh in the fillet house, our adventures and most importantly, your adventures! It's who we are and what Davin Lake Lodge is all about.
Matt, Danica, Milo & Freja
Timber & BARK!!
FOLLOW-UP to Kelly’s advice…
We started the season with full intentions of having our biggest season yet and documenting the season on socials for everyone to follow. We started out great through startup and the first few weeks but then something happened. We had an incident with an intoxicated guest that shattered my confidence AND we were too busy to live through and behind our phones.
I like to think we are very easy going people who are understanding and easy to communicate with. We had a couple of guests this year who seemed to take advantage of our kindness to our detriment. This has prompted us to tighten up our guidelines and policies so that there is no longer any room for interpretation. These new policies will be implemented for the 2024 season and you will notice some updates on the website that show some of these new policies.
One thing that most don‘t understand, that I think is very important to explain is the fact that Matt and I don’t pay ourselves anything from Davin Lake Lodge. We work the winters at regular jobs to earn enough to support our winter household for the summer season. The lodge makes just enough to support itself for the year, nothing extra is in the bank for startup. We don’t own Davin Lodge outright, we have a mortgage…no one left us this place as a gift, we bought it. We report ALL of our income because we have debt obligations to meet and new equipment to buy every year. We revamp the website every year and update pricing based on the previous season but our minimal yearly price increases have not kept up with inflation or the cost of goods. Our costs go up because they have to and also because Matt and I and our kids cannot afford to support the lodge…it HAS to pay for itself. No one likes to pay taxes and I especially do not like to pay 15-20k yearly to the provincial government for PST collected through the season.
As many of you know and see but maybe don’t realize is we are generally working 5am-11pm each and everyday in camp providing a wonderful place for people to come and enjoy…but understand this… we work for free, for the opportunity to live and play and SHARE in such an amazing paradise. It is especially disheartening to engage with people who feel entitled to discounts, a free ride, an extra day, arriving at 8am to fish all day on $95. We are constantly confronted with these situations and being as nice and accommodating as we are we let some things slide…at a sacrifice to ourselves and our business. I think being more transparent and having defined boundaries will go a long ways. We will always be kind and accommodating but we will not sacrifice our lodge, our kids, our future or our home.
THe website just had an update and refresh for 2024…just needs to add pics to the blog and the 2023 page. THanks to everyone who sent in pics…keep them coming if you have any and I will get them up! Some other changes to pages…lots has been added to the FAQ page! Early booking email for our repeat clients will go out on October 31 which will kick off our 2024 season starting November 1. Watch your inbox or check your junk mail and get ready to send me an email or a text or a booking form to get your spot for 2024 reserved. You will have first dibs on favorite dates or if you want to try new dates get them while you can because booking for new people opens on November 15!! Lets hope for another sold out season with a good solid break for us as a family in between!
We really truly look forward to each and every season and year 8 in 2024 will be no exception! We will be up to the lake throughout the winter to stay and play. We hope the snow pack will be well above average and we will start the season with good water levels.
Once again….We will continue to dream and plan for the future so we can share Davin Lake Lodge with everyone who wants to visit. We share every single moment from ice off and startup, every fish big or small, breakfasts, shore-lunches, campfires, rainy days, starry nights, a beer and a laugh in the fillet house, our adventures and most importantly, your adventures! It's who we are and what Davin Lake Lodge is all about.
Matt, Danica, Milo & Freja
Timber & BARK!!