Idaho's most interesting resident lives
in the town of Avery. He resides in a hanging glass cabinet alongside
the bar in the Avery Trading Post. He guards the building with
a hook as one arm and a rifle by his side. He has been there
for 40 years without complaint, and will likely do another 40
years of sentry duty without murmuring a word.
Avery, located about 50 miles from St Maries, up the St. Joe
River on the St. Joe River Road (FH50), is the last town on the
river before the highway snakes up to the Montana border, and
turns to gravel. Woodrow Wilson visited Avery when he was president.
The resident in the glass case was a hapless trapper, who set
off in about 1900 for the wilds of the Yukon to trap animals
for fur. Caught in a snowstorm, he died, and left the ground
around him littered with bear traps, his rifle and the hook that
replaced the half of his left arm which had gone missing years
A wandering Canadian found the bones some 60 years later, and
returned them to Idaho. He's been hanging out in the bar ever
Avery's sub-100-person population has created some entertainment
to keep itself busy in the long winter months. Near the downtown
area, which consists of only the Avery Trading Post, is a steel
dorm room-like structure which has "Avery Jail" scripted
in black on a whitewashed background.
This was the town's original jail. It measures about 10 feet
by 10 feet, and has bars on the windows and a heavy steel door.
Next to the jail is the trout pond which is actually an oval
pool with a water jet on the far side to keep the water moving
and the trout happy. Eric Leitz, a native Parkline, Idaho, resident,
describes the fish as, "big trout."
For a mere 10 cents, visitors can purchase a handful of fish
food in the bubblegum dispenser. Drop the dime, and the trout
understand what the ratcheting sound means, lunch. Trout swarm
all around each other trying to get to the top of the fish pile.
Piranha-like, the fish devour the pellets as soon as they are
tossed in. It might be hard to imagine fat fish, but these fit
the bill. A lifetime of swimming in place, eating all the time,
has left them humorously ovoid.
The real trick, Dave Best said, is to use popcorn. The popcorn
allows for some float time between the initial toss and the final
descent into the water. The trout will actually jump out of the
water to retrieve the falling treats.
The road over Moon Pass, an old rail grade, leads 28 miles through
four tunnels en route to Wallace, Idaho. The road is wide, and
the tunnels cold, even in the summer. Winter travel is not recommended;
always watch out for logging trucks barreling around blind corners.
The road to Moon Pass is a left turn immediately after the town
Popular with people who fish, Lost Lake is located across the
river and about 25 miles east of Avery. The drive on the gravel
road takes about an hour, and the hike is 3 miles and another
hour. This year, 6 feet of snow remained around the lake in June.
On the road to Lost Lake, follow signs carefully and keep a sharp
eye out for the small, brown, Forest Service road signs. Many
of the road signs have been perforated with high-speed ventilation
holes, so make sure there is a map handy in the car before setting
off into the mountains.
To get to Lost Lake, drive across the St Joe River, and follow
signs for Fishhook Creek. Take Fishhook Creek Road, also called
301, about 20 miles. Pass through a tunnel, over a small pass,
and down the other side. Turn right on FR216. Follow that road
for a few miles, then ford the Little North Fork Creek. The stream
passes over the road, but a two-wheel-drive car can pass easily
through it when the water is low.
The unmarked trailhead to the lake is shortly after the stream
crossing on the right. The trail is well kept for about half
of the way, and then deteriorates after a collapsed bridge across
a shallow creek. Crossing the creek can be a slick experience
for the non-fleet of foot.
The trail meanders about another 30 minutes before it opens up
into the Lost Lake basin. Lost Lake is nestled at the foot of
a mountain and is nearly circular. The water is impossibly clear;
it's possible to see the bottom of the lake from the bank 100
feet away. Fish jump in the late afternoon, and often bears will
trot by on the hillside above.