Big Creek Memories

Submitted by Bruce "Sparky" Parker (Idaho):

Frost encroaches onto the boardwalk in front of Big Creek Lodge. The heat from hot coffee in hand is a marked distinction from breaths filled with icy mountain air. Early morning sun caps the surrounding mountain peaks. A cow elk grazes in the meadow below as hungry mules watch and lean on a crossbuck fence. Smoke from the chimney curls as it searches for a lodge pole mast in care of a relaxed American flag. The hush of backwoods consumes all.

In the distance, towards Profile Pass, a foretelling soft drone is heard. The buzz slowly amplifies as it searches echoing canyon walls. Framed by Goat Mountain a small shadow of a Cessna 210 comes into view. Size increases as distance and altitude are closed. At tree top level a snarling prop roars overhead as Doppler pushes the sound towards the airstrip. The yellow plane drops low in apparent reconnaissance. Halfway down the runway a sharp pitch up bleeds off excess airspeed. At the top of Hogs Back Hill flaps and landing gear extend. A turn towards final approach catches the sun sending a bolt of light off the wings. Leveling out, the Cessna slowly settles until two puffs of dust confirms touchdown. Aluminum Marv Gregersenshakes as Yellowbird negotiates the last hump at the end of the airstrip. A short burst of power is given for a turn into a set of tiedown chains. A throaty Lycoming motor gives a final burp as a spinning prop locks to a stop. From under the cowling the engine snaps and pings as hot metals seek out colder temperatures. An airplane door opens. Out steps Marvin Gregersen. A one armed pilot with an infectious grin. A man called Yukon who flies Yellowbird. A cradled prosthetic hook rests in the crook of the opposite arm. Smiling eyes give off a warning that a story is about to be told. A story that might even have some truth to it.

Marv could always make me laugh. He was always there for me and I knew he would do anything for me. I have never grown tired of hearing a plane land or depart from Big Creek. It is, in short, a thrill. When my co-owners and I would try to describe to others how much we liked running the lodge and how wonderful Big was, we would always just respond “There is only one Big Creek!”

Marv Gregersen and Big Creek Lodge are only memories for me now. The lodge fallen to fire and Marv’s spirit resting with Yellowbird at the top of Logan mountain. I cherish those memories of Yukon’s friendship and of being part of running Big Creek Lodge.

I am excited about the current effort to rebuild Big Creek Lodge and I am looking forward to building new memories and friendships when it is done.

FAA Accident Report