The trek from my cabin to Wildfire Lodge takes a good hour, a little less in the summer, a little more in the winter. I take the trail down the back of Sutter's Mountain and then across Skunk Meadow, fording Whiskey Creek at the shallows.
The Lodge, a sturdy and stalwart log building, sits right at the foot of the trail that begins the rise up the rock and fir tree hill known simply as the Chief. The hill has another name, an official name, that you can find on the maps you get at the Ranger Station, but we've always called it the Chief around these parts. One look and you know why the name, a granite outcropping near the summit was a dead ringer for some Indian Chief staring out over the valley.
I make this trek three times a week. Check to see if the place had been visited by bears or lost hikers. I sometimes fire up the grey stone fireplace just to make sure the squirrels haven't nested in the chimney. I do a little sweeping, check for leaks and varmits, and throw open the doors and windows to let in some fresh air.
Built back before the turn of the century, this grand old place has proven herself against all these years of weather. In fact, I'd argue that the cold winters have found away to turn the rough hewn logs into iron and the hot summers have fused all the cracks and crevices together moss and mold. She was named by one of the first Mounties ever assigned to this region. He came here to police a short-lived silver mining town, but then made some rather ill-gotten money by confiscating some hardwood forest. A lumbering company came in and made the old boy rich. He then built the Lodge hoping to make even more money by hosting well-to-do government officials wanting to spend a few days proving their manhood. He built it but ran it only for a short while. Got himself killed in a hunting accident. Or at least that's what the obituary read.
Since then the Lodge changed hands from one rich city boy to the next, each one turning a profit with each buying and selling. The last owner to make any money on the place was a retired President of the Canadian Pacific Railway. But he walked away from it that night in 1955. Nowadays the Royal Scot Timber Company owns it. Word has it that the place was scheduled to be torn down a few years ago. But it seems that as the years went on, the boys at the conglomerate headquarters just forgot that it was even here. But my check keeps coming the first of every month therefore I keep making this trek.