Preparing for the Summer

We start planning for our summer season almost at the same time that we close the doors in October the year before. We spend the Fall looking over the project list; what work needs to be done on the buildings, reflecting on what happened over the summer, staffing decisions and the guest experience. Maintenance of a 90 year old property is paramount and everything from generator upgrades, wastewater treatment facility parts, new towels, kitchen equipment is all up for discussion. Lots of pre-planning is necessary as our window of opportunity to complete any repairs and upgrades is quite narrow; in fact it is really narrow just the first two weeks of June when we can have vehicle access into the lodge. Prior to that the snow usually still blankets the road and requires plowing to get it open.

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Installing a New Engine on one of our Generators

A small crew of staff arrive at the beginning of June to start the initial opening. The cob webs need to be removed from buildings, water systems need to get cleaned and a site inspection carried out to see what damage winter snow loads and frost heaving has caused. It is a busy time with long days however the kitchen crew keeps everyone well fed and energized. Most years we spend a couple of days shovelling snow. Our warm spring this year meant that we arrived to an ice free lake and a distinct lack of snow. The maintenance guys were quite happy not to have to spend their days shovelling out paths just so we could get from building to building. I don’t usually remind them that in the “old days” we also had to shovel out our Water line from Mary lake, which was a 1/2 km away. This spring we also had some of the most amazing weather. Days of 25 degree celsius and blue skies greeted us most mornings. We know that it never lasts and as you can see from the two photos below one day we are dining Alfresco and the next in a blizzard.

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The Staff Arrive

Our small crew is supplemented by our full contingent of staff after a week. We go from a core group of 8 to a bustling little village of 25. Our dynamic group of young people spend the next week learning about the details of O’Hara Backcountry Hospitality, the practicalities of being self sufficient in our relatively remote setting, training as the O’Hara Fire Crew with multiple practice sessions and fire drills and of course the Cabin team is busy making beds and setting up our cabins. The Kitchen crew continues to test out new recipes and keep everyone well fed. Fortunately we are the lucky recipients of all those recipe experiments! The maintenance team continues the never ending list of jobs to keep our 90 year old property in order and they learn about our Water Treatment facility, Tertiary wastewater treatment facility and our Power generation equipment. All while responding to any immediate little repairs necessary as well as twice weekly picking up our food orders down in the valley. It is not all work; we try and squeeze in our annual Staff Olympics. This year it was Island Pentathlon. A series of fun activities that combine rocks, water balloons, hula hoops, Island cocktails and lots of spirit into imaginative group events.

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In addition to playing at the Lodge the staff also get the opportunity to go out and explore their backyard for the next few months. For some this is their very first time to the Rockies while others are seasoned veterans having either grown up in the area or spent a number of years working here at O’Hara. With the leadership of our Mountain Guides the staff take a break from all the training and opening duties and enjoy a day with the guides on the surrounding Mountain peaks. This year our previous week of sunny weather changed into snowy and freezing daytime highs as they put on gaiters, toques and multiple warm layers and headed out to experience the other side of O’Hara.

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The Summer Season is underway!

All the major cleaning and preparatory work is behind us now as we officially opened our doors last Friday for Summer at Lake O’Hara. We accomplished what we set out to do with all of our mechanical systems up to speed, the Kitchen humming along with daily smells of fresh baked bread drifting out the door and the cabins are looking warm, cozy and inviting for all of our summer visitors. We are now looking forward to seeing lots of new faces this summer season as well as welcoming back many of our returning guests.

 

Cheers,

Bruce Millar