Winter has come to North Idaho which means no more driving to the cabin; there’s probably 2-2 1/2 feet of snow on the road in some places. In 2011, we were able to drive in for a scant 4 months and 13 days.
Saturday, our friends Terry and Glenn came to visit from Missoula. After we gave them a quick tour of Mullan we decided to head for the cabin. Terry had perused our copy of Woodstove Cooking and was inspired to make dinner for us without the aid of the propane cooktop; he grabbed some tarragon, rosemary, and chicken bullion cubes from the refrigerator and requested a grocery store stop for some chicken and vegetables before we tackled the snowy road.
After pausing at the bottom of the hill to wait for the children and their sleds to clear we started up the road. I struggled with the frozen lock for a minute at the gate and pushed an inch of snow out of the way to open it. As we approached the final stretch, I began to worry that perhaps the final steep stretch would defeat us. The trusty stock Cherokee didn’t let us down—the cabin was soon in view.
The usual flurry of starting the fire, stocking the cabin with firewood, and the setting up of beds began. Soon, the temperature started to rise and Terry started dinner. The cabin filed with the smell of yummy food and we settled in around the stove. The darkness completely enclosed us before dinner was ready (“Difficult to judge the color of chicken by headlamp,” Glenn remarked.) It was AMAZING. Clearly I need to get some spices up to the cabin and become braver about hearty soups from scratch up there.
Glenn helped Forrest get radio working (a car stereo and speakers wired to a car battery…12V wizardry). We sipped wine from our mugs (I’ve got to get some wine glasses up there) and listened to the wind whip around the cabin. Relaxing with a few friends in our “lookout like” cabin is quickly becoming one of my favorite activities.
We retired early and Forrest tried to keep the fire going all night. We definitely need to get started on the insulation to keep more of the heat inside and allow us to dampen the stove more. In the morning, Glenn made us some quite delightful cowboy coffee (still need to find a French press) and Forrest made some fried dough concoction (refrigerated buttermilk biscuits cooked in oil with cinnamon sugar on top). It was generally a quiet morning.
At about 10:30 or so, we started to pack up and think about heading down the hill. The ride out was a bit more exciting then we were bargaining for—we were pushing snow over the hood of the car and could hear the snow sliding along the doors. (I’m a pretty calm rider but an abrupt lurch just above our last corner started the adrenaline flowing.) Next time we arrive at the substation to head up it will be with snowmobiles…