The Book of Yaak: Fix Creek

The Yaak is a tiny river, but an important one, especially with the loss of the upper Kootenai River (and now extinct Ural Valley) to the wretched dam that formed Lake Koocanusa, in order to send more juice to California. The Yaak flows from four forks down into what remains of the Kootenai, a river that reminds one of the Mississippi. And the Kootenai then flows, Yaak-laden, into the Columbia, where it becomes fragmented by dams—lakes where salmon once ran wild.

It boggles my mind to stand in one of the cedar forests high in the mountains of Yaak and watch a creek—say, Fix Creek—go trickling down through the forest, a foot wide and a foot deep—and to picture it being received by the Yaak, and then by the Kootenai, and then by the Columbia, and then by the ocean. (129)

Rick Bass. The Book of Yaak. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

About the Book

The Book of Yaak

The Book of Yaak is a collection of essays describing, examining and defending Yaak Valley. Written in 1996, the book pleads for people to save the region’s few remaining roadless areas. Bass says, “A love of place can fuel art, can fuel the imagination—can give nourishment to the supple, questioning, creative spirit in excess of whatever that place may receive from the taker. Art can be its own sort of advocacy for a place.” That is what Bass attempts with his descriptions of lichen on a fallen tree, stories of the few remaining grizzlies, the changing seasons, the encroachment of uncaring institutions—to paint a picture of beauty and mystery of key importance both ecologically and spiritually, and then beg us to leave it alone.

While the settings in The Book of Yaak clearly reference actual locales, it is understood that the book—including its places—is ultimately the product of the author’s imagination. The intent of this literary map is to enrich the reading experience by interpreting those places, not to render them literally or definitively.

About the Author

Rick Bass

Rick Bass was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He studied petroleum geology at Utah State University, and it was while working as a petroleum geologist in Jackson, Mississippi that he started writing short stories during his lunch breaks. In 1987, he moved with his wife, the artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass, to Montana’s remote Yaak Valley, where he works to protect his adopted home from roads and logging.

Bass serves on the board of both the Yaak Valley Forest Council and Round River Conservation Studies. Visit for more