(Photo | courtesy of Three Creek Lake)
Karinda Boone knew it was a long shot when she submitted her application. She was keenly aware she would be one of many buyers wanting to purchase Three Creek Lake Store and Marina, near Sisters.
“I had moved home from Nicaragua where I had been working for three years and went to see the lake,” Boone said. “As a child, I spent time at the lake during our family vacations at Black Butte Ranch. I have always had fond memories of my time spent there.”
When she inquired with owner Jan Keyser about the property in 2020, Boone was told “good luck” because there were more than 20 people who had submitted applications. “Jan didn’t want to sell to the highest bidder but to someone who truly cared about the lake and who wanted to continue the traditions of the previous owners of Three Creek Lake being a place to go boating and fishing,” Boone said. “It’s a place where people can escape the ordinary hustle and bustle for a magical experience.”
She was surprised when Keyser called her and asked if she was still interested in purchasing the property.
Summer of 2021 was her first summer as the “lucky new owner of the lake.” “As native Oregonians, our family is excited about creating special memories for our community and keeping this traditional boat rental activity alive – it’s definitely a labor of love,” Boone said. “We are blessed to be able to call ourselves stewards of the lake.”
Three Creek Lake is a quiet, heart-shaped lake nestled in the Cascades Mountains, off a long gravel road. It’s near the hiking trail for Tam McArthur Rim. The rustic store has snacks, soda pop, beer, ice, sundries, food and Three Creek merchandise including sweatshirts and tin coffee mugs. There is a small library for anyone looking for a beach book or to learn more about hiking trails or the lake. Guests can rent rowboats, peddle boats, canoes or stand-up paddle boards to explore the lake or go fishing. The Tatum family built the general store and boat rental in the late 1960s so they could enjoy summers with their local friends and family fishing at the lake, stocked with Rainbow and Brown trout.
Laughing, Boone shared her favorite movie is Under the Tuscan Sun. “Instead of remodeling an Italian villa, I remodeled a fishing shack. After purchasing the store, I gutted it down to the studs with the help of James and Terry Dunn, longtime friends and homeowners in Tollgate,” Boone said. “Guy Selig, a retired maintenance manager for the Sisters School District, completed the remodel with a beautifully done tongue and groove pine ceiling and a new wood floor.”
There is no electricity at the lake, so all the power tools were powered by a gas generator. “Guy’s passion for the lake and preserving the history and charm fueled his passion for helping me, and his patience was unmatched,” Boone said. “Guy has been fishing the lake for over 20 years and knows all the secret spots.”
Boone enjoys hearing guests share their stories about proposing at the lake or catching their first fish. “I love listening to stories from people who first went to the lake as a child, then brought their children and now their grandchildren,” Boone said.
She had planned to work full-time at the lake this summer but received an incredible job offer that requires her to work out of the state. She’s hired her son, Niklas Anders Hedlund, 28, and longtime friends Sara and Greg Ausman to manage the store.
Pondering their favorite vacation, Greg and Sara listed Jackson Hole, Gearhart Beach and Sun Valley, landing on Three Creek Lake as the winner.
“When Karinda called in February saying that she wanted us to have the first choice of running the store and boat rentals as she took on her new adventure out of state, we were thrilled,” Sara shared.
Greg and Sara said Boone’s love for the lake is apparent in the amount of work she has done.
“Karinda’s tent across from the store is evidence of her commitment,” Greg said. “She slept on the ground much of the summer last year as she repaired boats, greeted guests and ran the store and shared a beverage in the evening hours with those who wanted to chat.”
Guests can rent a classic rowboat, pedal boat, canoe, fishing pontoon boat, fishing raft or a paddleboard. A dozen fishing worms cost $5. The store sells iced cold beer, water, packaged food and soda. She also sells camping and fishing supplies and amazing floatation rafts — watermelon island, dragons and turtles to name a few. She is dedicated to promoting Sisters’ businesses and artists at the Three Creek store.
Jeff Perrin at the Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters hand-tied flies, especially for the lake. “Jeff has been one of Central Oregon’s most renowned fly fishing guides for over 30 years and knows the lakes and rivers better than anyone,” Boone said. And there is a small yet growing collection of local art, including featured artists Paul Allen Bennet and Rachel D’Antona.
A fourth-generation Oregon, Boone said she envisions Three Creek Lake Store and Marina as being a place for people to get outside and explore the beauty of nature, whether it’s hiking, fishing, camping or boating. Her master business plan includes adding summer camp services and special events including music, arts and sports. “This is truly my passion project. I didn’t buy the store and marina expecting to get rich but instead to have a piece of Oregon history that I can give to my children,” she said.