Well…it’s been quite a winter!  The Upper Clark Fork region, of which Rock Creek is a part of, is at over 150% of normal snowpack.  There is still 13 inches of hardpacked snow in our field, and just 3 days ago I fell on the ice walking between our house and the shop…but still, there is change in the air.

Today there is sunshine, and the bird songs sound different.  I can hear the sound of snow melting off our metal roof and running down the rain gutter.  Might we see spring after all?  Gary Brown called this morning to say he saw the first robin…a sure sign that winter may actually be willing to give up it’s grip on our region.

Our first snow came on November 1, and we’ve not seen bare ground since. That’s almost 4 1/2 months with snow on the ground, and I expect that we won’t be without snow for at least 2 more weeks.  Another neighbor, Jim Brown, told Joe the other day that he has recorded at least 62 inches of snow that has fallen this winter here at Rock Creek.  The Easter bunny will be hiding eggs in the snowbanks!  But, soon it will be gone and we’ll once again be able to walk without fear of slipping and feel the warm sun shining on our faces.  To say we have cabin fever would be a vast understatement.  Even though it’s only about 45 degrees today, I have the doors open in both my house and the shop…longing for some of that fresh air to nudge out the stagnancy of winter.

Soon also, we’ll also be seeing bugs flying and fish rising…it’s not happening yet, but it won’t be long.  The next 2 weeks are supposed to be mostly nice (with emphasis on ‘mostly’).  We’ve been below normal temperatures for so long I’m sure even the fish are wondering what gives.  But that will change this week and FINALLY we’ll see 50+ degrees for the first time since last October.  With warming air temps will come warming water…which of course will translate to bug and ultimately fish activity.  And once again the cycle will begin.  We can hardly wait!

Okay – I need to mention cabin rentals.  It’s only March, but the summer months are booking up pretty quickly.  If you know your dates, and you want to stay at Rock Creek, you need to get your cabins booked.  The owners of The Elkhorn decided last fall that they will not be open to the public any longer, so the 4 cabins they used to offer will not be available.  Obviously, that most likely means the overflow will be considering Trout Bums.  If you need help making your reservation either send me a quick email or text me on my cell phone at 406 825 6146.  I will send you a return text/email with my land line number, which I am not putting online due to the number of ‘fake’ calls I receive as a result of internet robotic crawlers.  Otherwise, just click either the “availability” or “reservation” link above and follow the prompts.

Next question I get is ‘when will you be open for the season?’.  We will have the cabins ready to rent by mid-April.  I will be open in the fly shop on a very part time basis, with no regular schedule from mid-April until the 3rd week-end in May (opening day of fishing season).  After that I will be open full time.

Historical fact…I started the Rock Creek Trout Bums vacation rental business in 1997, and added the fly shop/coffee bar in 2006.  It’s hard to believe this will be our 22nd season – they’ve gone by so quickly.  We’ve met so many wonderful people, and made some great friends; many we wouldn’t have known if not for our little store.

As some of you know, last summer I turned 60; since then I have been pondering some life changes.  After much thought, prayer and discussion between Joe and I during the off season, we have determined that this will be the last summer we will have our fly shop open.  The cabin rentals will not be affected by this decision as we will continue to manage the cabins for the foreseeable future, but it is time to flirt with the concept of semi-retirement.

We will be running sales all summer to reduce inventory on non-consigned items.  Then, at the end of September we will have a big sale offering everything that remains.  We’ll announce the ‘official’ sale date soon, but right now I think it will be the entire last week of September – so tentatively mark it on your calendar.

For those of you that have been loyal huckleberry and raspberry jam customers (addicts), I will continue to make and ship out jam and pie filling each fall as I have been doing.  I’ll get a mailing list going that you can sign up for.

So, all that to say – we love our customers, and hope that you’ll make a point of stopping in to visit if you happen to be at Rock Creek this summer.  I’ll still be making great coffee and home baked goods for your enjoyment.

Oh, and one more thing…some of you were here when I caught the cat in the raccoon trap.  that’s the handsome fellow in the photo above and below.  He’s thriving and has become a great addition to our little family.  His name is Smokey – just like Smokey the bear -because he survived on his own during the forest fire here last summer.

That’s the news for today – I’ll post again soon.  In the meantime, be sure to follow us on FaceBook for the latest news and stream conditions.

Deb and Joe (and Smokey the cat)