On the Edge of Wilderness in the Middle of Freedom
By Dennis Pence
This is what much of America used to be. I sat in a rickety old lawn chair on an even ricketier deck, admiring the view. It was mid-June and the temp was seventy-five degrees. A few puffball clouds floated across the sky, the forest-cloaked mountains rose sharply a few miles away. The only sounds I could hear were the birds chirping and the wind softly blowing. The scene was idyllic. It doesn’t get much better.
In 2009, my wife Teri and I purchased an old mobile home with a rickety deck on five acres only a few miles above Kooskia. The intention was to build a home and live in the mobile in the meantime. We had decided to “retire” a few years early and move to a simpler lifestyle. Our criteria were to be on the edge of the wilderness, though not too far out, no freeways, fairly good weather, and a small rural town with that ever-elusive commodity, freedom.
Kooskia, with its population of six hundred including the surrounding area, fit the bill. Winters are fairly warm by Idaho standards, growing season is 147 days on average, and the town is billed as the “Gateway to the Wilderness.” A bonus: the closest freeway is 145 miles away.
The area where we bought our property was known affectionately as Bachelor Knob. There were several older men, all homeowners who were not married. Each one of those bachelors stopped by and introduced himself and offered to help us should we need it. One, a gentleman with a gray beard, holding a beer, said, “I just had to meet the first woman on Bachelor Knob.” We all had a good laugh on that one.