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Priest Lake Reflections

CatherineCatherine Simpson first visited Priest Lake in 1931 and five years later was married at the lake. She and her husband took a steamboat to the Beaver Creek location where they later built a cabin. Later the two would write a book about Priest Lake history called "North of the Narrows". Simpson has spent most of her more than 90 summers at the lake and says this is the place she feels most at home.

"I have been coming to Priest Lake practically my whole life, and it’s been on of my very favorite places to come. And that’s all I missed when I was someplace else… I just feel comfortable here, and it’s beautiful. It’s one of the beauty spots of the world and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places in the world…It is unique, mostly it has been unique because of it’s obscurity but that’s over now, it’s been discovered."

CraigCraig Hill grew up at Priest Lake. His father started Hills resort in 1946 and raised his family here. As an adult Craig pursued other interests overseas but later returned to Hills Resort as a co-manager and owner. He tries to water ski each morning from spring to fall before starting his busy work schedule. It’s a ritual that energizes him and a time when he can appreciate the beauty of the place he works every day.

"It’s the serenity, it’s the peaceful quietness of the area and how you feel when you’re here. You’re so remote. It’s a destination place, you have to want to get to Priest Lake, you don’t just happed to be driving down the freeway. You have to know about it and want to get here, so people who come here appreciate it more than people who just drive by a place. Again, it’s a one way street to get here not a through road so people who come here respect it and treat it like the pristine lake that it is. It’s like no other."

JillJill Cobb is the district hydrologist for the U.S. Forest Service at Priest Lake. She’s in charge of monitoring the quality of the water coming off of forest service lands. Her favorite part of the job is tromping around on any of the 1300 miles of streams that flow into the lake. She’s lived here year round for fifteen years and loves the lifestyle the area offers.

"Priest Lake has a special spell on people, either you love it as soon as you get here, you learn to love it or you move on. But you have to be hardy because it’s not the easiest place to live, there’s quite a bit of snow in the winter months and it is remote but it’s beautiful…I think folks who love to live at Priest Lake love the freedom of Priest Lake. In winter you can ski out your back door, you can grab a mountain bike and take of on the hundreds of miles of trails, you can go huckleberry picking and pick gallons and gallons in one day if you want to, there are a lot of public lands for everybody to enjoy and a lot of wildlife…There are a lot of reasons to live at Priest Lake."

TomTom Holman has lived at Priest Lake nearly forty years. In recent years he began taking more and more photographs of the area that has inspired him his whole life. He has hiked and climbed and snowmobiled extensively to capture thousands of images of Priest Lake. You can see his photos in restaurants and business around the lake and he’s even compiled some of his favorites on cd’s that are available in the area. He says he can’t imagine a better place to take pictures.

"It’s unique because it is Priest Lake. We have a pristine lake, the crown jewel of Idaho. The water is so clear and because of the federal and state ground it’s growth is limited so we’re always going to have some of that solitude and privacy we had years ago…I enjoy Priest Lake for everything it has to offer, from the water to beyond the shorelines. There’s so much for everyone to enjoy from all kinds of aspects of sports, hiking, finding a spot to read a book, photography, you name it, it’s there for everybody. I really believe this area has opportunities for most anyone who would want to come here."

Rich LindseyRich Lindsey has been a fishing guide in north Idaho for over thirty-five years, most of that time at Priest Lake. He’s often on the water twelve hours a day, seven days a week during the high summer season but fishes the lake year round for it’s trophy Mackinaw. Even when he’s not working you’ll often find him out on the lake, spending time reflecting on the beauty of the place he has grown to love.

"I climb in my boat and motor out to the middle of the lake and shut everything down. If it’s stormy or calm that’s where I go and I sit out in the middle of the lake and I look around consciously aware of my need to be thankful for being in the presence of all this…There are places that have very dramatic scenery but Priest Lake just has this magical embrace and you can’t deny it, if you come back enough times it will get you, you’ll understand the magnetism it has..It has a personality and you come to know it. The more times you come back you’ll know it and you’ll understand it. Not many places in my life have done that, it’s pretty amazing."

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