By Morris R Pike –
“What do you think?” I asked my alter ego Arnie. We pulled off the gravel road and stopped. Our tires rested in the soft grass. Out the windshield of my trusty Subaru, the lofty mountaintops and deep valleys undulated all the way to the horizon.
“So?” Arnie sneered.
“So, we’re going down there,” I said disappointed that Arnie didn’t seem to be moved by the overwhelming vista before us. I eased the car back into the well-worn, dusty tire tracks.
After an hour of snaking our way down Little Sheep Road, we found ourselves in the tiny town of Imnaha.
“Call this a town?” Arnie sneered again.
“The 253 people who live here think it is . . . not to mention the deer, bears and wolves . . . and who knows what else inhabits this valley.”
We pulled into a parking spot next to the Imnaha Store and Tavern. The Pepsi sign above the front window was intending to get people to come to their INDEPOOPDEHIDABEATUS Day – First Saturday in June.
“They must do it every year,” I said approaching the entrance.
“Yeah, sure,” Arnie scoffed pointing to the sign. “People living here have a sense of humor.”
We later learned that years ago the town threw a big party. They called it INDEPOOPDEHIDABEATUS Day and the name stuck. That party was so much fun, they started having it every year.
We’d moved through the front door into the semi-darkness . . . dark partly to keep the heat down . . . gets very hot in the summer down here in this valley . . . even though the elevation is nearly 2000 feet. The grocery store was a restaurant too. The walls were covered with a menagerie of trophies and other assorted items expressing local personality.
Other than Arnie and I there was only one other patron in the restaurant . . . sitting in a booth with her back to the door, an elderly lady was drinking something.
“What you bet she’s drinking a Coke,” I said referring to the main store sign.
“Or a Pabst,” Arnie answered alluding to the neon sign in the front window.
“Maybe Pepsi . . . ”
“Hey look at this!” Arnie pointed at a white chest freezer sitting by the cashier counter.
On the front of the chest was the Rattlesnake Kill Count for 2012.
“Robbi D nailed 10 . . .”
“Fence Creek, 30,” I added.
“That’s not a person . . . you think?”
“More likely a place,” I said.
Arnie approached the store clerk and asked, “Didn’t the Oregon wolf pack from Idaho settle somewhere around here?”
“Yep,” the middle-aged man clipped. “Their den was in Cayuse Flat . . . couple miles east near Horse Creek.”
“Can we drive there?” I asked.
“No road,” the clerk said. Pretty rugged hike.” By the look on my face, he saw that we were not likely to do that.
“The Feds believed the pack was the first in the state for a bunch o’ years . . . the rangers tagged them with GPS devices so they could keep track of the rascals.”
“I’m glad we came,” Arnie said looking at me.
“Glad to hear that, but why?” I asked.
“You know, one of the young wolves was OR7 . . . he left his pack and walked 1200 miles searching for a mate. “
“Yeah,” the clerk said reaching under the counter and pulling out a book. “Here’s a story written about him. The guy who wrote this book followed OR7’s route south and west . . . as far as California and back into Oregon. That wolf finally found a mate. It a good book.”
“Well, Arnie, I’m glad we came down here too. Just think . . . we are right here where that young wolf started his journey.”
I took the book, paid the man and Arnie and I returned to the Subaru.
Arnie pointed across the street to the red jeep U.S. Mail delivery truck in front of the post office. “Seems kinda silly . . . having a post office for only 253 people.”
“If you were one of them, you’d be grateful.”
“You think he delivers to the individual houses too?”
“Bet not,” I said, eying the weathered boots that were turned upside down over some fence posts. “Interesting what people do to amuse themselves . . . imagine what boots would look like upended on the Whitehouse fence in Washington D.C.”
Arnie and I continued to follow the Imnaha River south to Halfway. My copy of A Diary of Snap Wolf’s Journey to Find a Mate, lay on the seat between us.
Photos by Morris R. Pike
A Diary of Snap Wolf’s Journey to Find a Mate is available on Amazon.com