Silence, absolute silence. Not even the croak of a raven breaks the stillness of this white landscape. Deep, light snow covers everything up here near 6,000 feet. Snow ghosts surround me with their bowed tops. As I step forward only the muffled “woomph” of the snowshoe results in any sound. It is so quiet that I can almost imagine that I hear the unheard hum of the earth itself. The snow is entirely untracked, other than the trench of a trail behind me. The sun shines meekly through a thickening sheets of clouds. The landscape seems largely empty and untouched.
However, this is not true. Much the forest here has been clear-cut, although the forest is growing slowly back. This was once a wild and untamed place where the Nez Perce passed through as they made their way to hunt buffalo. Even caribou once roamed this high, flat pass, and not in some distant past, but until the 1950s. In the mind’s eye, I can see a small band of mountain caribou passing under the lichen-enshrouded firs. This point is the high point of the Lolo Trail, where following the Nez Perce trail, the Corps of Discovery (Lewis & Clark Expedition) were led by Old Toby, a Shoshone war chief and dog warrior. They were followed by many other explorers and mountain man in the coming years. One of these early white settlers is responsible for the place-name of Lolo. His name was Lawrence which became LouLou, or Lolo.
This is a placed filled with ghosts of all forms. Snow ghosts, native spirits, and the ghosts of the past.