For years I’ve known about the incredible opportunity we have to rent Forest Service cabins, but have never done it. So a few months ago I reserved a night at the King’s Hill cabin with the hope that we could explore nearby trails as part of my research in a big project of mine. The surgery waylaid that plan, although we still managed to see some new parts (to me) of the area.
But back to the cabin. It was a great time. This particular cabin was built in the 1930s, and while the roof appeared new (which only makes sense in this harsh environment) you can tell the rest of it had some history behind it. It was nice and clean inside with smooth wood floors and decent cupboards. There’s no running water, but there is electricity and even a stove. Pots, pans, dishes and utensils are all there. A small wood stove is the heat source, and I was tickled to find a pile of split wood ready to go. It was nice. And I was relieved to find no evidence of mice even though there were signs all over about hantavirus. (I almost brought along a spray bottle of bleach water, but refrained.)
This is a two room cabin with 2 sets of bunk beds, one of which is a double bed, so it sleeps six easily. The main area was the kitchen, wood burner and dining table. There was also a big woodshed, outside fire ring, and a nice pit toilet (I’ve been to some where it’s a rickety old thing where you think you’re going to fall in, so I appreciate a solid seat!)
I was a little rusty in my packing. I forgot the ketchup and mustard, as well as butter and cream for breakfast and my coffee. Frankly, more food would’ve been good, too. I also wanted to bring wool blankets for the boys. Next time I’ll definitely bring more water. We only had 3 gallons, but I had to be very conservative with it, particularly with washing dishes, so we wouldn’t run out. And I definitely will include a smoke detector to whatever cabin we rent. I was surprised there wasn’t one in the cabin. It appears there was at one point, but no longer. With the wood stove (where I could see the fire because the seal was missing) you could see the fire, and I could just picture a spark flying out and hitting the box of paper. (Yes, this is how my mind works.) And, of course, my nose was all off because we all smelled like smoke.
The boys loved it from the beginning. Of course, it was even more special because their big brother, Blaine, joined us for the trip. They hadn’t seen him since around Christmas so they were pretty excited. They loved the beds, the fire, roasting hot dogs, marshmallows… the whole thing. John thought we should just stay there forever. He calls it “Our Cabin.” They had a great time with Blaine, too, as they hunkered around the outdoor fire, or tossed baseballs. This is something they’re going to remember forever.
We went for a little walk up Deadman Trail until we could see the slopes of Showdown Ski Area. I definitely felt the difference. I noticed I couldn’t breathe as deeply as I normally could. I guess it hasn’t been a month, yet, since the surgery so I shouldn’t be terrible surprised. Terribly frustrated, but not surprised. Then we decided to drive to the top. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but as we gained elevation the road seemed to narrow and the slope steepened. There are no photos from this jaunt, not because Grant wasn’t kind enough to offer to stop so I could take photos, but because I was clinging onto the car like a cat perched above the bathtub, I urged him to continue moving. (I will tell you the shooting star flowers were lovely, but I didn’t take a picture of them.) On top it opens up and is beautiful.
After a few games of Scrabble and Bible trivia, Sam and John couldn’t wait to go to bed. So I got them dressed, and squared around where each of them slept. That last for 10 minutes. Originally Sam wanted me to sleep with him in the bottom double bunk, and John as going to sleep by himself on the bottom single. Then they were both in the bottom bed chatting away.
Grant, Blaine and I played a couple of games of Yahtzee before decided to retire. I got to sleep between Sam and John in the space where the 2 twin mattresses meet. Comfy. I had a blinding headache, so I lay in bed for 2 hours before giving in and getting up. I read all of the entries in the journals there, recognizing a few of the people. I spent a lot of time feeding and tending to the fire because I was concerned the boys would be cold. I even started a letter to a friend I haven’t written in years. Finally, around 2 a.m. I decided to take Ibuprofen for the headache. Thankfully, once that started working I felt sleepy so I went to bed. Of course, both boys were completely out of their sleeping bags. I scootched them back inside and crawled in my own bag between them. I slept for probably 3 hours before I heard Grant get up and stoke up the fire. So, even though I slept very little, it never became terribly cold in the cabin.
For breakfast I made egg and cheese burritos. Grant chopped more wood to replace what we used, and then I cleaned up the cabin and we headed home. It was a short trip, but a lot of fun. I highly recommend renting one of these cabins to anyone, and really want to try more so we can see great new places in Montana.