The guide shack is where the fishing guides stay. It’s usually not as posh as the guests’ rooms in the lodge, but it makes up for it because it’s alive with the memories of all the guides who’ve inhabited it over the years.

I’m staying at the guide shack at Painter Creek Lodge mostly because the lodge is closed right now, but that’s due to change in about a week when the first guests arrive. It’s taken the better part of two years to repair and restore the lodge after the bears tore it up a few winters ago and everything looks great now. But in my case there’s even more to it than bears and repairs. My friend and lodge owner, Jon Kent, figured that I’d probably just be happier in the shack and he’s right.

The Painter Creek guide shack has actually served two purposes over the years. The first is to house the guides during the fishing season. The second is to house the lodge caretaker over the winter months. There’s a board nailed to the door that some of the guides and caretakers have signed over the years. Most of the guides just signed their names and the years they guided here. The caretakers names are followed by long rows of cross-hatched day counts where they kept track of how long they’d been here and how long they had to go until the plane came back to get them. All of this real history making the guide shack the living, breathing entity that it is.

But I digress. Here is the promised mystery and I know other people who’ve spent time here and in other backcountry cabins, shacks, and sheep herder wagons who’ve also  pondered it. So, here we go.

How is it that you can close the doors and windows and then systematically swat all the house flies that buzz around on the windows until you know for a fact that there’s no more left in the cabin then within a few hours they start appearing on the windows again?

Or then again is it more about having too much time on your hands?