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



Submitted by Larry Taylor (Idaho):

I first heard about Big Creek from my mother’s “kissin’ cousin” at a July family gathering. Jimmy Greene said it was the greatest place he had ever been. “There’s no place like it!” I could tell from the look on his face he meant it.   And knowing I had just obtained my pilot’s license, he pointed out that there was a big grass airstrip right next to the lodge.   Before the gathering ungathered, we had made plans to rendezvous at Big Creek the following month.

The year was 1976, four years before the 2.4-million acres in and around Big Creek would become the River of No Return Wilderness Area. My visiting mother and her husband drove my Blazer while Jimmy and his wife took their Jeepster for the five hour drive to Yellow Pine and over Profile Summit to Big Creek. I gave them a four-hour head start before loading my wife, two sons and camping gear into my 1953 Tri Pacer for our first aerial venture into Idaho’s backcountry.L Taylor BC Tripacer

Despite my inexperience and lack of modern navigational devices, the trip was uneventful and totally exhilarating. We landed in time to help set up camp before eating dinner at the rustic lodge, which Bruce and Roxy Minter owned at the time. It was everything Jimmy had said it was. The lodge, the food and the majestic surroundings.

The next morning, we loaded into the four-wheel-drives and headed down Big Creek for an old mining establishment. Along the way, we had to repair a wooden bridge, ford the river at least once and clear trees from the road. Four years later, the road would be closed and reduced to a trail in the new wilderness area. It wasn’t much more than that even when it was a road. We fished, swam and marveled at the scenery during those four wonderful, indelible days at Big Creek. We would return many times during the ensuing years and even become part owner of the lodge and outfitting business for a time.

My mother and her “kissin’ cousin” are gone now, as is the rustic lodge. But I think they would be very happy to know that I am part of the organization that will rebuild the lodge and perhaps, one day, bring others to say, “There’s no place like it!”

Taylor 70s BC