Trying to build a lodge in remote Alaska in just one very short building season is quite an undertaking by itself, building a lodge and satisfying 90 fisherman sounds almost impossible. A challenge so daunting, not many including myself (Brian Harry owner/operator ) was 100 percent confident it could be accomplished. We as a team did just that. I want to be the first one to say it would never have been accomplished without the endless efforts of my incredible staff and the skill and know how of Lee Nieman and Hardy Construction.
My great friends, manager Matt Grieff and chief pilot Joe Erickson and myself returned to Intricate Bay on May 11th. To say we all had an eerie feeling about stepping off the plane was an understatement, not just because of the jumbled pile of burnt debris we once called home, but also the intimidating reality of the work ahead of us.
Although intimidating, it felt great to finally be onsite and working. We spent countless hours during the off season preparing and planning for the summer. Preparation down to the most minute detail is absolutely essential when building and operating in the remote Alaskan bush. The first task upon arrival was getting our utilities back. Our water, electricity, phone and internet all ran through the old lodge. After several days and a few ups and down we were back in business, meaning at least we are able to flush a toilet, take a shower, make a phone call and enjoy a glass of water (after it was filtered) filtration system was down on our list.
On May 15th we welcomed back for another season veteran guides Steve and Kevin Kinnie. With a few more hands we took on the challenge of cleaning the site for the new lodge. Several days later and lots of blood, sweat and I believe a few tears. The site was clear and ready for a foundation.
May 27th was a monumental day for us at Intricate Bay as for today we would find out that the barge was indeed on time and would be there tomorrow. Last year the barge was also scheduled to arrive on May 28th and finally arrived June 11th. With this news, I became the ultimate optimist about the summer. Logistics is the name of the game and having building materials, tools, food, beds, temporary housing on site symbolized a chance. To defend my dramatics, this cargo began its long journey in British Columbia, Canada three week prior. It was trucked from BC to Seattle, barged to Seward (ALASKA), trucked to Homer, barged across cook inlet to Williamsport, truck up over a 16 mile treacherous mountain pass, barged to Iliamna, and finally barged across the lake to Intricate Bay. Alaska offers challenges most don’t face in their daily lives, especially in early season. Iliamna Development Cooperation (our barge and trucking company) deal with weather, ice out, avalanches, mud slides, roads washing out, and huge tides routinely. A big thanks to IDC for making it all happen.
One barge here and one to go but for now we have what we need for season opener just one week away. Generally, barge day is a long, hard day of labor and chaos this year was no exception but with 7 days to go and near 20 hours of daylight we kept working into the night on our 45 foot weather port. This structure is to be our kitchen and dining hall. One tired group of guys but one step closer.
The construction crew arrived in the next few days and things got done. To the amazement of all, the crew of three finished the shell in 27 days. During those 27 days, we were blessed with the best stretch of weather I have ever seen in Alaska. The sun was shining down on us all. The second barge arrived right on time as the crew needed the framing supplies on board. The metal roof and siding was installed next. With the stretch of weather we were having there was no time to waste, in Alaska you can be guaranteed about one thing when it come to good weather. You either earn it or pay for it but when you get it take full advantage. While the outside projects we being finished we had a series of crews working on the inside. The plumbers and electricians spent about a week roughing in and then the insulators spend several days insulating. The construction crew took a break and had an opportunity to fly to Anchorage for some much needed R&R. Upon their return, they installed 33,000 feet of beautiful pine tongue-n-groove at the same time Lee Nieman the GC stoned the walk around fireplace. The carpet and hickory hardwood was installed and the plumbers and electricians returned for final installations. On Sunday September 14th our very talented chef Kevin Christoff cooked our first meal in our new commercial kitchen just 106 days after breaking ground. Once again I would like to thank everyone involved in this project for all your hard work. Intricate Bay Lodge is very excited about it’s new home and look forward to sharing all it has to offer with our guest in 2015 and many many years to come. Stay tuned into Intricate Bay blog for a 2014 fishing report.