I have decided that this is the year of the cabin.
I can’t really say that this is some noble decision, or that it’s to support the Forest Service and DNR with my rental fees, or that it’s even to show others the awesomeness of cabin camping: it’s really just for my personal comfort. Well, and for Kiska too.
I am so lucky to live in an amazing town that has such a well maintained cabin selection. It not only is because of DNR and the Forest Service, but also every person that goes to the cabins and tries to keep them nice. As we all know, one group can leave a cabin in a sorry state: beer cans littering the ground outside, hatchet marks in the wood beams and rafters, and of course damaging any furniture because of goofing off. But when you walk into a cabin that has clean grounds outside, the table and bench is in order, and the floor is swept, you can’t ask for more! Well, we can always ask for dry wood, extra fuel, and of course a beer or two, but let’s not be greedy…
I have reserved basically a cabin a month this year through August. After our incredibly wet summer last year, I have learned my lesson and will be camping every month regardless of the rain. And, hopefully having the promise of a roof will encourage other friends to join me all summer and fall as well.
So I started out the 2016 camping season with Cowee Meadow cabin. A super easy 2.37 mile walk partly through the woods then along a giant meadow, then to the cabin nestled in the green belt just before the beach. The snow at the beginning of the trail had been packed down into a glacier anywhere that the open canopy allowed the snow to accumulate, but it was a frustrating mix of ice and mud as the general lack of snow in the trees made for a slightly frozen, sometimes wet and muddy walk through the woods on my way to the cabin. I headed out around 1300 so I would have plenty of light to hike out, then go sit at the beach and eat my late lunch with a gorgeous view. Kiska and Body ran around like crazy little animals, chasing sticks and each other. I am so happy that I live in a place where Kiska can run around off leash and sniff things to her hearts content.
Lindsey and Body headed home, while Kiska and I hung out in the cabin by ourselves for a time. I put the gallon of D1 fuel (which I guess is almost like kerosene with something added for cars) in the nordic stove fuel reserve out back, and lit the stove just as the light faded from the field. I read for a while, while Kiska just sat around on her sleeping pad I brought. I read for about another 45 minutes before Kiska woke from her sleep to chuff a few times, and look intently at the wood door. So, I got up and walked her to the door and saw three little headlamps bobbing along the trail. I told Kiska to ‘go get them’, but she didn’t wander too far down the trail towards them. She mostly just hung out at the bridge and waited for them to walk to her.
Now, let me just say, that my brothers take food SUPER seriously. Like, really really seriously. Not that cabin food is a competition, but it kind of gets that way when packing. I totally thought to myself that I was going to bring better food than Jake (our brother-from-another-mother who is besties with my twin brother Jon), but Jon wanted to cook in style and packing a fucking cast iron skillet 2.5 miles into the woods so he could do his breakfast how he likes. YUP. A cast iron skillet. I was only a tad surprised to see him whip that bad boy out of his pack. But when Jake pulled out some deer tenderloins with a hunk of butter and mashed potatoes, I knew my smoked salmon fettuccine with sun dried tomatoes had been beat. Jake lit the small fireplace so I turned off the stove, and Jake cooked his meat to perfection. He did take a few moments to organize some wood by the fire place to help it dry out, as I had put a few small logs across the top of the nordic stove to dry. Matthew, Jon and Sam feasted on deer tacos, complete with an entire head of lettuce, a bag of cheese and of course sour cream.
I only brought one big beer, but Jon had packed a gallon jug of berry mojito mix for himself and his lady Sam. Matthew brought a mix of rum and coke, and after Jake finished his trail box of wine (I think he bought it because it was on sale), he started in on some beers. I helped clear the table, lit the nordic stove, and busted out the Uno cards for a night of drinking Uno. It was the most I think I have ever drank in my life, and after going outside to look at the stars and see if the northern lights were out, we all headed to bed. The fireplace died, but nordic stove ran all night keeping us all toasty warm. Matthew just slept on top of his thin fleece sleeping bag – the one he has just for cabin camping. I fully unzipped my sleeping bag, and Kiska and I both slept on top of it on my sleeping pad and I just had the top part covering me like a blanket. I am waiting for the day Kiska’s nails poke a hole in my sleeping pad, so I would rather have her sleep on top of it and have dog hair in the bottom of my bag than a hole in my pad.
The next morning we all lounged around. Jake made sausage links with hash browns, Jon made an incredible pot of eggs and oatmeal with fruit, and Matthew and I snacked on what we brought and then helped finish the extra food. We all took a short walk to the beach, soaked in the sun and took some pictures. Matthew headed out just a few before the rest of us, and after Jake re-organized the wood pile I swept the cabin as we all left.