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Redfish Lake camper raises funds for iconic dock
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Saturday, April 11, 2015
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Ketchum Firefighter Tory Canfield had just arrived at Redfish Lake when she heard a loud noise that sounded like a crack or boom from a construction project.

“It was weird because we didn’t think any construction was going on then,” she said. “Then we heard what we found out later was bolts popping off the pilings on the dock.”

Upon further examination, Canfield saw that the dock was a crooked mess shoved against the shoreline—likely by an ice ridge that had formed along the edge of the lake.

Now, Redfish Lodge Manager Jeff Clegg is scrambling to rebuild what is one of Idaho’s most iconic walks by May 22 when Redfish Lodge opens for the Memorial Day Weekend.

It likely won’t be done the weekend before when more than a hundred Idaho Conservation League members make their annual pilgrimage to Redfish Lake Lodge for “Wild Idaho!” presentations and field trips.

Clegg said he decided to rebuild the dock, which was not insured, after giving a lot of thought to cost and alternatives.

He’s getting some help from Josh Johnson, an Idaho Falls man who has started a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/Redfish-Lake-Dock to help raise funds for the dock building. Johnson, whose grandfather’s relatives owned the lodge before selling it in 1974, has raised more than $4,000 for the project so far.

 “Having to rebuild it is not fun, but you do what you have to do,” said Clegg. “People have been so kind. We’ve even had people offering to grab a hammer and help us out.”

Clegg said he got a call from Stanley resident Ellen Libertine on Feb. 21, asking him if he had seen the dock. She also emailed him pictures that showed how the dock had been pushed onto land in front of the Redfish Lake Lodge and folded in two.

                Libertine, who had cross-country skied into the lake, said she could hear the ice on the lake popping, snapping and cracking.

 “I do not know whether you have ever been in a cabin when it was so cold that the wood cracks—that is what happens in Stanley in the winter. Well, this cracking was many times louder than what I have heard in my cabin,” Libertine said.

                Stanley photographer Thad Gerheim said the Stanley area, often the coldest in the continental United States, has had a very warm winter with a lot of rain and wind.

                “Wind isn’t that unusual. But what is unusual is that temperatures stayed warm and rainy at the end of most of the storms we had this year, instead of cooling down to give us some good powder,” he said.

Clegg believes the damage was caused suddenly, rather than over time, as contractors working at the lodge the morning before Canfield arrived hadn’t noticed anything unusual. Temperatures jumped from the upper 30s to 52 in one week, he added.

“Intuitively, I think there was an unusual shift in which the whole plate of ice moved 2 and one-half feet to the northwest,” he said. “Exactly why, I don’t know. I have lots of theories. There was very warm weather and rain in February that pushed the lake up. And it may have been accompanied by a big wind. There were big cracks across the lake that looked as if the ice on the lake split in two. Normally, the ice on the lake is 3 feet thick.”

The average temperature for Stanley during the month of February was 42 degrees—10 degrees higher than is typical, said Vernon Preston, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pocatello.

The area experienced some unusual spring warm-ups every four days during February, with temperatures soaring into the 50s. On Feb. 20, a cool-off occurred with the high being just 39 degrees. It was 36 degrees on Feb. 21, 30 degrees on Feb. 22 and 38 degrees on Feb. 23.

Clegg has already removed the dock. He was surprised how much corrosion had taken place in the steel pilings since the dock was built in 2001. Fortunately, the double-walled underground gas tank  and gas lines held up, even though the lines were kinked.

Clegg said he considered a floating system that would need to be removed each fall. But it wouldn’t accommodate the electricity and gas line needed for the boats as well as a stationery dock does. It would have divided the beach. There would have been no way to go under the docks. Jumping off the dock would be limited to a couple of feet. And a floating dock would move.

 “In one sense, it doesn’t make any sense to rebuild it as it was because this could happen again,” Clegg said. “But we’re going with our hearts and rebuilding it as it was. I’ve watched thousands of people over the years, including the elderly, those in wheelchairs and young children, experience the magic of the dock in that beautiful setting.

Clegg said contractors will be able to use 75 percent of the materials from the previous dock. He estimates it will cost at least $150,000 to rebuild the dock. The original dock cost $300,000, but that included the cost of architectural and engineering drawings.

Clegg said reservations are filling up ahead of last year.

“It always fills up in July and August—I haven’t been there when it’s not 100 percent full,” he said. “But it’s filling up faster this year, and all of our activities are a go, including our free concerts on the lawn.”

Wild Idaho!

Wild Idaho! will be held from 5 p.m. Friday, May 15, to noon Sunday, May 17, at Redfish Lake Lodge near Stanley.

This year’s conference will celebrate Idaho’s wildlife since it’s the 20th anniversary of reintroducing wolves to the stage.

Learn more at idahoconservation.org.

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