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Writers seeking quiet time to do their work are welcomed by Fishtrap each April to a writing retreat at a remote log cabin on the upper Imnaha River. Up to five writers attend each week.

The house, which is owned by Dr. Mike and Kathleen Driver, is 12.2 miles upriver on a good gravel road from the town of Imnaha, which is 30 miles on a paved road from the town of Joseph. The cabin sits across the river from the road, and is accessible only via suspended footbridge. There’s a garden cart to help carry your belongings across the bridge.

On the main floor, the house has a kitchen, dining area, living room with fireplace, one bedroom, and a bathroom. Upstairs there are two small bedrooms, a bathroom, and a large open room with two beds. There is also a separate “tree house,” which is a small one-room cabin that sits atop a tool shed and is accessible by stairs. There are two rather lovely outhouses. A large lawn with a fenced garden and fruit trees provides space for tenting, relaxing, and exercise. There are plenty of opportunities to walk or hike along the mostly quiet road, or on nearby trails and hillsides.

The main house is heated with a wood stove furnace plus auxiliary electric baseboard heat. The treehouse is heated with its own little wood stove. Both buildings have electricity.

The retreat is limited to 5 people at a time. People use their bedrooms, the dining room table, the living room, the deck, and other areas for private writing spaces. Not all of these areas are shielded from kitchen or other activity, so it is important that people respect a 9 am to 5 pm “quiet writing time.” Groups traditionally eat with and read to each other in the evenings, and informal, supportive critique sessions have become a high point for many participants.

Although Fishtrap provides many food staples (a list is provided below), writers are expected to bring their own food for breakfast and lunch. Also, each writer traditionally brings food for and cooks at least one evening meal for the whole group. Leftovers typically accumulate, making for some fabulous smorgasbord opportunities late in the week. Be sure to bring any special ingredients with you – don’t count on finding any mango chutney in the pantry. You may bring alcohol. If you find you’ve forgotten something, the Imnaha Tavern and Store is 12 miles away, with frozen french fries, chicken gizzards, and a never-ending diet of cowboy movie re-runs.

Each retreat participant is also expected to help with domestic chores like washing dishes, cleaning, and stoking the wood stove. A “den mom”– a Fishtrap volunteer who is familiar with the house – makes sure that there are staples in the larder, helps with household tasks like stoking the stove, and answers questions like, “Where’s the flush handle in the outhouse?”
WHAT FISHTRAP PROVIDES: Beds and clean but well-used bedding. You may wish to bring your own sheets and blankets or sleeping bag. Beds range in size from 72-80 inches long by 36-60 inches wide. Chairs and desks. Washing machine and dryer. A kitchen with pots, pans, toaster, coffee maker, and utensils, but no electric mixer or blender. Some food staples (see below). Firewood. A telephone (541-577-3244), but please use it sparingly, and respect others. For long distance calls you’ll need to bring a calling card. There is no cell phone or wireless Internet reception. Internet and Wi-Fi are available at multiple locations in Joseph and Enterprise, including the public libraries, and rumor has it that if you park in the Imnaha school parking lot, you can get signal with no password required.

WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING: Clothing, a towel, and toiletries. Do not skimp on warm clothing. Tent and pad if you think you might want to sleep outside. Food (including fixings for at least one group dinner). Everything you need to write: pen, pencil, paper, computer, printer, extension cord, flash drive, OED dictionary, a surge protector … Past guests have suggested that you bring your own favorite reading and writing lamp. Earplugs.

FISHTRAP ASKS: The retreat is about the work of writing. Respect quiet writing hours from 9 am to 5 pm, other than an agreed-upon break time for lunch. Please, no overnight guests. Dinner guests are OK by consensus of the group. Bring earplugs for listening to music. Musical instruments are great, but please ask before playing where others will hear. If you are a songwriter and need music to do your work, please request the tree house. Please, no smoking, pets or illegal drugs. You may bring alcohol. Please label all of your food. Please respect the property and your fellow writers, notify us if you find something broken, and help clean the house and grounds thoroughly before leaving. Please CARPOOL if possible. One good idea is to meet at the Fishtrap house in Enterprise or at the public parking lot in Joseph before 2:00 on the first Sunday, which gives plenty of daylight time to get to the house, get settled in, and cook dinner.

DIRECTIONS: From Paul’s Chevron in the town of Joseph, with a full tank of gas, drive east on the Imnaha Highway about 30 miles to the town of Imnaha. Cross the bridge over the Imnaha River. Stop at the Imnaha Tavern, say hello, and throw a dollar bill at the ceiling. Turn right (south and upriver) on the gravel Imnaha River Road. The right turn is in Imnaha immediately after crossing the bridge. You will be turning between two buildings. The road will be paved and then turn to gravel, following the river on your right. Between 11 and 12 miles from town, pass two white farm houses below the road and near the river. Just past the second house, the road curves to the right. At 12.2 miles, look for the obvious footbridge, and park in the grassy wide spot on the right, near an old wooden garage. You may need to cross the footbridge to get the cart for transferring your belongings. If you continue upriver on the Imnaha River Road and cross to the west side of the river (river will now be on your left), you missed it.

REGISTRATION:  Please complete a registration form on the “registration” page. If you register by phone, a Fishtrap staff person will complete the form for you. The price is $280 per week. We encourage those who can afford it to send more at their own discretion. Payment in full is due to secure your reservation.You may stay for one or more weeks. Your reservation is not confirmed until we have received a completed registration form and payment.

REFUNDS & CANCELLATIONS: Refunds are subject to a $25 non-refundable deposit. Cancellations 6 weeks or more before the retreat will receive a full refund. Cancellations 3 to 6 weeks before the retreat will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations received less than 3 weeks before the retreat will receive no refund.

Staples provided by Fishtrap
cooking oil
dish soap
hand soap
laundry soap
paper towels
salt & pepper
saran wrap
spices & seasonings (basic)
toilet paper

[Click here to register online.]