Was there a Week 11 at Scott Lake Lodge? Depends. The calendar certainly noted the passing of the days between July 29th and August 3rd. With no guests on the island for five days, there were no float planes flying, no boats leaving the docks every morning, and no raucous dinners in the evening. We could have heard a tree falling. Just a quiet island with a few hardy souls who did almost no fishing (well, just a little). The great fishing games of Scott Lake were not played. Let’s just call it the 2023 Scott Lake Lodge All-Star break. And there were All-Stars on the island who stayed to protect and defend this 12-acre island on the 60th parallel. They started their defence right after the hurried evacuation of all the guests (and many of our team members) using powerful pumps and fire hoses to spray the entire island, hoping some water would stop any flaming cinders from landing on the parched ground.

Thanks to a dramatic wind shift from north to south the fire that was bearing down on us did a 180-degree turn and furiously burned its way up the north arm of Scott Lake. Then Mother Nature took over with four days of on/off rain. She did a much better job and brought our world back to normal. It was the first rain in well over a month. Just in time. Our home in the north was secure. And our All-Stars could play other games, like catching up on sleep and doing dozens of odd jobs that get lost in the fast pace of normal operations. There was a profound sense of community as the group sat down for meals at one long table in the main lodge. And an even greater sense of relief. One highlight of the week, was what we thought could be the last Tundra Trail hike before it burnt, nearly all the crew took part in this fun outing. Tundra Trail it turned out was saved.

On August 3rd guests returned to the lodge with the balance of our team members. We just all pretended that we were back to Week 1, Day 1. We were back in business with a sharp focus and high level of energy. On August 4th we had even more rain, the steady soft kind of rain that finished off any remaining smoky hot spots left. The smoke and fire that closed the lodge for the first time in 27 years (not counting Covid of course) was in the rear-view mirror. There are large areas on the northwest and north arms of Scott as well as big chucks of adjacent Premier Lake as a reminder, miles of charred timber. But as it’s done for millennia in the far north, the land will heal, and the forests will return. It’s all part of the natural cycle here. We just happened to be in the middle of it.

We all extend our sympathy and empathy to the 26 guests who made it all the way to Edmonton only to be sent home without making a single cast. It was the right call but still a major disappointment for the Week 11 guests—the lost week. We will put extra effort on July 29, 2024 to welcome those same guests and put on a great fishing show. Same time, same lake—no fire!