The Lochsa


Friend AJ casting a four-weight bamboo rod on the Lochsa.

I cannot claim to know the Lochsa River, of north central Idaho, well. It has had a place in my life, and in the lives of my family and friends, for many years, though.  I fished it this last weekend with a new friend.  Now that I live in Idaho, I look forward to visiting many times and giving it the intimate attention I should have, long ago.

It was years ago that I was last on the Lochsa.  My wife and I had not yet moved East, and we were traveling from my sister’s house in Boise to visit my family in Missoula.  I remember the drive well because it was Christmas Even, and it was snowing hard.  For those who have not been there, narrow Highway 12 borders the river for many miles before climbing over Lolo Pass and down into Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.  I wanted to put chains on the car — a late 80’s Subaru wagon — but I was afraid to stop.  In the blizzard, we could not see the side of the road, nor could we see approaching traffic. Fearing that we might be knocked into the river if we stopped, we kept inching along.

Wariness while driving along the Lochsa in wintertime is warranted.  One of my brother-in-laws once slipped partially off the highway, with his wife and two sons in the car.  As my sister described it to me, they were left teetering on the edge of the road, very close to falling in the river.  I think the incident affected my brother-in-law greatly, and understandably so.  I had another friend whose car actually did slide all the way into the water.  Miraculously, he and his family were alright.

I have more positive memories involving the Lochsa too.  During my college years and shortly after, several friends and I would often snowshoe in that river drainage, visiting some of the hot springs in the area. At the time, I often thought of my troubled, but beautiful uncle.  He spent a summer manning a fire lookout tower near the Lochsa, in the 1950’s.  My uncle has passed away since I made those visits to the area on snowshoes, but I found myself thinking of him this last weekend, as well.  As in the past, I wondered if the summer he spent on that lookout tower was a happy one — if it was free from some of the problems that made his life so much more difficult  than it should have been.


Looking downstream.

I am like my uncle was in many ways. My life is a happier one, though.  This is especially the case, now that I live, once again, close to family and friends in Idaho and Montana … and closer to rivers such as the Lochsa, as well.

2 Responses to “The Lochsa”

  1. rivertoprambles Says:

    You are fortunate to live near the Lochsa, a lovely river despite its darker aspects, viz. in blizzard times.


  2. The Lochsa, Again. | The Literary Fly Fisher Says:

    […] we went over Lolo Pass and drove along the Lochsa River.  As I’ve indicated before, the Lochsa has a lot of significance to me.  Perhaps it will for my daughter some day, as […]


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