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Deep Woods, Birds Galore

By Mike Blackbird

I’ve come to this cabin for almost forty years. I come out two or three times a summer, and once in winter, but that’s another story. Even when we lived in Seattle, I tried to come at least once a year. Some years, that wasn’t possible, but as I’ve grown older, coming here has become an important connection, one that I hope to continue making for many years.

The cabin is in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of northern Idaho at Killarney Lake, the last of the channel lakes accessible by boat along the Coeur d’Alene River. On the northern end of Killarney, conifer-clad Popcorn Island, the remnant of an ancient volcanic pluton, rises abruptly from the water to shield a small peninsula beyond, also a pluton. On the peninsula, enfolded in old growth pines, the cabin sits on Forest Service land. The Forest Service started offering land for lease in the 1930s, in part to encourage people to enjoy nature and also to help the rangers keep watch over the land. Two close friends of mine, Mike Pierce and Dale Zook, began renting the cabin in the 1970s from the original builders. Later they bought it, continuing the land lease with the Forest Service. In all the time they’ve owned the cabin, they’ve done little to modernize it. The cabin has remained pretty much the same from the day it was built—a bit rustic, to say the least.

For many years, a farm immediately behind the peninsula was owned by a family of reclusive misanthropes who denied access to the cabin by a road even more rustic than the cabin. In all that time, the only way to get to the cabin was by boat. But the years, death, and new owners have resulted in accessibility by car, provided you have little regard for your car.

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