Cabin in the Woods

Day 17 – Emily’s Entry - April 29 – 11:09am – Bank of the Naches River – Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington 

Last night we stayed in our first cabin. It met our simple needs: a bed, stove, and outhouse. The cabin was built in the 1940’s as a live/work station for forest rangers. 2-3 rangers would live there at a time until the 1960’s. It is now rentable to people like us. It was on a peaceful creek and surrounded by beautiful pines.

Our drive through Washington has been breathtaking. Yesterday we drove over a mountain peak with over 3 feet of snow on either side of the cleared road. It feels incredible looking out at eye-level with clouds and viewing neighboring snow-capped mountain peaks. The road we’re driving on winds next to pristine, icy-cold rivers and streams. We’ve seen a dozen or so female elk grazing, sometimes with their young, on the side of the road.

Yesterday, we were low on gas, wanted firewood, couldn’t find our cabin, and it was getting dark. We had been driving around for 2 hours trying to figure where our cabin was. We had no cell service of course. At the peak of our frustration, a glorious, yellow Shell gas station appeared. The attendant Scott was a part-time firefighter and the nicest guy. He sold us firewood at a discount for $4 and magically knew where our cabin was to point us in the right direction. (We still got a bit lost finding it, but we eventually prevailed!) As we pumped our gas, I remembered to take out and read our daily devotional from the book Jesus Calling. It read, “I will equip you as you go so that you can handle whatever comes your way. Trust Me to supply what you need when you need it.” Chills. Whoever doesn’t believe in something more should spend a few days in the woods. 


When you think of a cabin in the woods, what’s your first thought? Mine was of my grandparents’ cabin in Kentucky on Lake Kuttawa. Unfortunately, I also think of horror movies and crazy axe murderers.

Our cabin in the woods last night turned out to be a great, little home in the forest. It’s called the American River Guard Station Cabin. It used to be a station where rangers lived and worked. Now it’s for use by anyone who has $30 to rent it for the night.

You can tell how everyone who has stayed there loved it because they would leave behind kind notes in a guest book. What really impressed me was how much care people put into this home away from home. The act of strangers helping strangers who would stay there next and keep it safe for those ahead is so pleasing. People add artwork, fix appliances, or even just spilt wood for the next guest. I love the idea of taking care of a home for everyone.

Outside, you can see a wood chopping block that brought up some memories from my parents’ house of splitting wood for winter. Nearby, a river runs wild with trout that I couldn’t catch. Fishing is releasing and catching your lure, right?...

That night Emily and I played Mad Libs on the floor drinking wine and I’ve never laughed so hard. Being that deep in the woods can leave you super freaked out or pleasant and peaceful. At times, I did get a bit scared. Especially when we noticed a skinny staircase that led to an empty room in the attic, with three bare beds. With Emily next to me and a bit of distraction, I was able to forget about it.

I am so glad we found this cabin and I hope to visit it again someday with friends and family.  

Day 19 – Corey’s Entry – May 1 – 8:09am – Doney Cabin – Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest, Montana

I feel like Alex Supertramp from “Into the Wild” as I write this. I’m sitting on an old classroom chair, like the ones from elementary schools, writing on a makeshift desk with a deck of 48 cards and a candle on a mirror. This is Doney Cabin. It is an old forest mining live/work log cabin station with a wooden peg you slide to open the door, 3 bunk beds, old hunting magazines, a cupboard of tools, and a furnace in the middle that keeps the room extremely warm. I love it.

As we were settling in, a truck pulled up. I waved and said “Howdy!” as a couple got out to greet us. Steve was a retired veteran in service in Europe around 1957 and Kathy was another retired veteran. He wore a cowboy hat that complimented his mustache and huge belt buckle. We got to talking as they were lost and we gave them the best directions we could. He asked me if I needed flashlights. I showed him my headlamp. He scoffed and chuckled as he gave me two military flashlights from his truck. Then he looked me up and down and gave me some jam he picked up at a diner down the road. He said to make sure I eat well. 

That night, we found it hard to sleep. It was too quiet. We heard no waterfall, creek, or nearby highway to lull us to sleep. We heard every noise especially the three mice at 3 in the morning. At first, they were annoying. Then they were kind of funny as they chased each other and tumbled around with big ears and tiny feet. Then, I saw one run up the wall and across the room toward us. At that point we were done with them. They squeaked and ran around all night long.

Day 19 – Emily’s Entry – May 1 – 8:30am – Doney Cabin – Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest, Montana

Last night we felt free. The moon was so bright that we hardly had to use our headlamps outside. I built a raging campfire as we watched the moon. The interior of this old cabin, previously used as housing for miners felt creepy at first, but a warm stove and candle light can turn almost anyplace into a home.

We had serious trouble sleeping last night for two reasons. Reason 1: Even though it was 30°F outside, it was 80°F inside, because I put too much wood in the ancient stove. That thing might literally be 85 years old, but it sure worked well.

Reason 2: They’re cute, they’re small, but mice are LOUD. About 2:47am, we still couldn’t sleep in the 90°F inferno cabin when I heard it. SQUEAK! My eyes opened. I was wide-awake. I shone my headlamp around. First I only saw shadows darting near the door and baseboards. Then he showed himself: small, huge ears, and a tiny-nosed mouse.

Corey was also awake. They were cute at first playing and running around on the floor of the other side of the cabin. One became bold and ran up the wall and close to my bed. “Nope!” I exclaimed. I did my best to scare them off and close the holes they were coming though. It didn’t work. Eventually, I had to accept them and let sleep wash over me. They were probably just trying to stay warm.

At one point, I awoke to something scrambling at my feet in my sleeping bag. I kicked and lifted my feet until the mouse landed at my stomach. I grabbed it with my hand. It squirmed. I was so shocked I couldn’t say anything. I just telling myself in my head, say something! Eventually, I got out the word, “Corey!” He asked what was wrong. I said, “There’s a mouse in my sleeping bag! I’m holding it right now…” I realized I was holding nothing. I was just a terrifying, very real dream.

Doney Cabin, we’ve had some laughs, but I’m outta here.