How many places does one visit in a lifetime? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? The answer, of course, is partly contingent on how “place” is defined, but in any case it’s a big number, many more than could be possibly counted.
Out of all those places, how many of them have that touch of magic? Something about its combination of features—location, character, feel, atmosphere, mojo, essence—that etch deep into the part of the brain where treasures are stored? The kind of place that will often leap to mind at the slightest connection and force a warm fuzzy, no matter how far removed, physically or emotionally, that one is from that place?
Again, the answer is a subjective one, but it’s safe to say: damn few. For many folks in these parts, the Lochsa Lodge was just such a place. Perched on the high banks of the Lochsa river a mere 55 miles from Missoula, the Lodge was epic in every way that a remote—though paradoxically convenient—wilderness structure can be. A glorious respite from the many activities in the area—fishing, hunting, hiking, whitewater rafting, hot-potting—the thick-shouldered logs that framed the bar and restaurant housed some of the best backwoods grub and family-business hospitality to be found in these parts.
This February—normally a time when the snow-locked lodge remains relatively dormant—it was visited by tragedy when the 75-year–old main building burned to the ground. But the good news is that this year, as spring brings the advent of new life in nature’s wonderland, so will a new lodge begin to arise from the ashes of the old.
The 10th annual Lochsa River Rendezvous, normally a gathering of outdoor-minded folks to celebrate the beginning of the spring runoff and river season, takes on added meaning this year as revelers will commemorate the passing of the grand old lodge and celebrate the beginning of work on the new one.
A temporary structure with a deck and restaurant has been built to provide food and libations, and the beer will be flowing freely from kegs housed in wall tents. The Stuttering Hutterites, a ripper of a band from the Flathead Valley, and beloved locals Velcro Sheep provide the groove.
The evening will feature a raffle of goods and services to benefit the rebuilding of the lodge, and proceeds from discounted Saturday river trips by Lewis and Clark Trail Adventures will also help the folk at the lodge. The Lochsa Lodge is dead. Long live the Lochsa Lodge!
The Lochsa River Rendezvous happens Saturday, May 12. Music starts at 7 PM, but all-day lingering is encouraged. Contact Lewis & Clark Trail Adventures at 728-7609 for information and to book a river trip on the rip-roaring Lochsa.