Since writing the below article about the new Lost Lake Outpost at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge in Manitoba, I had the chance to visit the one-of-a-kind cabin for myself. I got a chance to see first-hand just how unique this cabin truly is––and how it is in fact defining a new genre of "luxury outposts."
For starters, I can't say I've ever been inside an outpost cabin with granite countertops before. IIt's surprising that such exquisite detail and worksmanship can be found in such a wonderfully remote region. You have to fly through Manitoba's unspoiled Atikaki Wilderness Provincial Park to reach Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge. From the base camp, Pit Turenne's crew zips you across Aikens Lake to this beautiful cabin that sits––as if posing for a postcard––with Aikens Lake in the foreground and Lost Lake in the background.
The fireplace is magnificent, and the woodwork is amazing, but it's the porch that steals the show.
Of course, one can't forget about the fishing, so my dad and I quit drooling over the cabin and headed out on the mile-and-a-half lake that's produced a 33-inch walleye in the limited hours it's been fished (the full story below reveals this outpost just opened mid-2013).
In the couple hours we pitched jigs tipped with frozen minnows, we caught pike and abundant walleye. The walleyes' unique, dark gold coloring was fascinating.
My favorite photo from our afternoon on Lost Lake is below, with my dad and I enjoying the day on the beautiful lake with the remarkable cabin.
Below is the full story on Lost Lake. Check it out to see how this previously un-tapped gem is creating a new genre of fly-in outpost camps.
Lost Outpost Creates New Genre of Fly-Ins
A dream that began two decades ago, on a hidden walleye gem aptly named Lost Lake, will come to fruition this month and break open a new genre of fly-in outpost camps. Today, only the final, finishing touches remain on Lost Lake Outpost––a remote outpost at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge that presents an unusual proposition to its future guests: an isolated experience in Manitoba’s Atikaki Wilderness Provincial Park on an lake that’s been virtually un-fished, while housed in one of the finest, luxury cabins imaginable.
“I don’t know if the term ‘luxury outpost’ exists,” said Aikens co-owner and manager Pit Turenne. “But I think we are creating a new genre here.”
The 1,320-square-foot cabin, intended for groups of four to eight, features four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two showers, a dining room, full kitchen, and the largest screened-in porch in Atikaki Park. All this, on a moss-covered peninsula with a dock on one side out to Aikens Lake and a dock on the other side to the previously buried Lost Lake.
“This isn’t your typical 30- to 40-year old plywood A-frame construction, this is high-quality craftsmanship” said Aikens sales manager Patrick Trudel. “We didn’t just put up a building and try to do it as cheap as possible, we invested for the future of this business and the Lost Lake Outpost is going to be a very unique luxury option in this industry.”
It’s also going to be the last cabin ever built in Atikaki Provincial Park. A moratorium went into effect August 1 halting any expansion inside of the park, as the region is applying to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Turenne’s parents, the previous owners of Aikens, brainstormed the idea for the outpost in the ’90s and applied for the original permit in 2001. At the time, Park management was fine-tuning its plan for the beautiful boreal forest, so approval was postponed.
Finally, in 2008, the provincial government finished their plan and gave the four lodges in the park the opportunity to expand their operations by 8 beds. “We had a 5-year window to apply for, get permission, and ultimately build the cabin,” said Turenne, noting that his wife, Julie, was responsible for geting government sign-off and worked tirelessly during the arduous and long approval process. “It took 3 years of red tape before the plan was approved late last summer.”
Last fall, the guides and crew cleared the area to prepare for construction. With winch, chain, shovels, picks and hoes, they muscled over 50 trees out of the ground––stump, roots, and all. Not surprisingly, the fishing guides actually prefer catching walleyes to ripping trees out of the ground, hauling them away and chopping them into firewood, but nonetheless they all chipped in and the clearing got done to pave the wave for spring construction.
Only problem is, spring didn’t come to Aikens this May. Instead, more snow did. A historically late ice-out delayed Turenne and company by over two weeks, but eventually the crew was able to fly into camp and get to work. Building in a remote location presents a host of logistical complications.
“Earlier this year we were short four bags of insulation and it took eight different people in total to communicate to the mainland, buy it, get it to the float base quickly, and finally fly it up here to us to then use,” Turenne said. “Timing is also a tough thing because you need to get your subtrades in at the right times for roughing in the electrical or plumbing, and it always has to fit on in-bound flights we already have scheduled, otherwise it becomes the most expensive cabin in the world to build!”
Despite a busy summer with guests at Aikens’ existing accommodations, the crew buckled down and Turenne said they’ll be 100 percent ready for their first Lost Lake Outpost guest on August 19.
Previous Aikens guests include Vice President Dan Quayle, actor Rick Schroeder, countless professional athletes including NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, and In-Fisherman’s Doug Stange. In fact, Stange, called Aikens “still the finest all-around fly-in experience I’ve ever had.” But the first guest at the new outpost will be a “regular,” not a celebrity, and any angler wishing to book the new cabin can do so simply by picking up the phone and giving Aikens a call at 800.565.2595.
“It’s a wide open slate for 2014 so groups that want to slide into a preferred timeslot can be the first to claim it,” Turenne said. Those who do will be claiming a distinctly different experience than staying at the lodge, which is famous for its 5-star service and for having more staff on-hand to take care of guests than actual guests––a rarity in the fishing lodge world.
“What excites me the most is the fact that now we can offer the full range of options at Aikens Lake,” Turenne said, with contagious enthusiasm. “Want to be pampered and guided? Book at the lodge. Want a hybrid outpost while still getting services like a chef and guides? Book at Great Grey Owl. Want to be completely left to your own devices? Book at Lost Lake Outpost. Now there’s something for everyone.”
Of course, there’s one minor detail left to be discussed about the new camp. It’s a question that's of great concern to all guests, whether they choose the most pampered plan at the main lodge or the most isolated option at the new outpost.
How’s the fishing?
“Lost Lake has been an underutilized gem for too long,” Turenne said about the mile-and-a-half lake. “With the lake’s dark-stained water, the walleyes in this lake have some of the coolest dark golden colors you’ll ever see. Most walleyes and pike in Lost Lake have never seen a lure, but when it has been fished it’s produced a 32.5- and a 33-inch walleye.”
The website for Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge is www.aikenslake.com. For more information, call 800.565.2595 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.