November was a very quiet month here at the lodge. Most of the chalets were shut down for the month and most of the staff was laid off, temporarily. There were only three or four of us here for most of the month of November. I worked until the 18th of November and had the rest of the month off. During the first half of November, we had several very wet snowfalls, mixed with rain and so, by the 19th, the ground was covered with about two inches of frozen slush. On the twentieth of November, I hitched a ride up to the Todagin Creek ranch to spend some time with Richard and Margaret Klocker. I spent a week there, helping Richard and Margaret get the insulation and vapor barrier installed in the upper part of their house. Richard and I spent some time at the Iskut landfill, where Richard has a contract to maintain the dumpsite. Light snow was falling for most of the time that I was there at the Todagin Ranch, and the temperature hovered around –24 C. On afternoon, I hiked part way up the mountain behind the Klocker place. Saw fresh lynx and marten tracks. On the 29th of November, Richard and I drove to Terrace. In Terrace, it was snowing and raining mixed, so the town was very slushy and it wasn’t much fun hiking around the wet cold streets. I stayed three nights at the Cedars motel, watching TV and movies while Richard did his shopping and we drove back on the 2nd of December, pulling a trailer loaded with gyp-rock wallboard. Richard dropped me off at the lodge and I started work the next day. By this time quite a bit of snow had fallen at the lodge, but Ron (the other maintenance man) had most areas plowed open. I spent a lot of time shoveling snow and chipping ice. We keep the walkways and stairs to the chalets open and cleared down close to the concrete. Also got some time in operating the large tractor with the front-end-loader. Pushed some big piles of snow around. I had two water line breaks to deal with, under the main lodge building, but otherwise, all went well. About the middle of the month (December), many people arrived at the lodge. Owners, Franz, and George, all of the mountain guides and other staff arrived for a training week. All of a sudden the population here went from four to over twenty-five! Quite a change! Friday, the 17th was my last working day for a while. I start again on the 24th. My schedule for the rest of the winter is fifteen days in a row of work followed by six days off. On Monday, Dave (the chief cook) and I drove to Stewart and back. I bought a big bottle of rum and a carton of cigarettes. On Tuesday, I did some snowshoeing out behind the lodge and up toward the lake, southeast of here. Temperature this morning is about –27 C (-17 F). That is the coldest that it has been here at the lodge so far this winter. Right now there are more women here than men. About twenty staff are here now, but only two customers, an old couple from Austria who come every year and spend two weeks here heli-skiing. The old guy is in his eighties and his wife isn’t much younger. They have been going out each day in the helicopter despite the cold weather. The sky is blue and it is actually a bit warmer, higher up on the slopes. They have been doing about 10,000 feet vertical each day. Staff meals are great these days. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all buffet style and there is always plenty of fresh fruit and salad greens. Bacon, sausage, eggs and rolls and fruit for breakfast. Excellent suppers, and lots of time to just relax right now. After Christmas, things will get more hectic. For one week in January, we will have forty skiers here, plus guides, pilots and aircrew. It will be pretty crowded in some of the buildings. That is one week that I actually have off from work, but I will probably stay here at the lodge unless I can arrange a trip to the hospital in Terrace. I would like to have my head examined, for ever since my fall with the ladder last September, my neck has been hurting and I just don’t feel quite right.
The days are very short now, less than eight hours of daylight (9:00am to 4:00pm). The sun never strikes the main lodge building now because there is a small mountain just south of this building that totally blocks out the direct rays of the sun.