Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Government Mineral Springs Guard Station - GPNF, Washington

Having recently returned from a trip to the Cascade Mountains in southwestern Washington, I wanted to share a bit about the area and specifically the cabin we used as base camp for our touring the area. When researching the trip, I could find very little information about the location.

The Pacific Northwest is an area of the country I had never visited; other than my frequent trips to New England, I normally keep my travels south of the Mason-Dixon, for I am fond of warm weather. When we flew out of Memphis in early June, the thermometer was reading 95-degrees, but when we arrived in Seattle the temperature was a brisk 51-degrees. Seattle greeted us with a few scattered showers, but overall our trip was clear of rain.

This part of the Cascade range is home to Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens, and lies just north of the Columbia River Basin. We stayed in Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, entering the park just north of Carson, Washington. Our cabin was a renovated ranger station originally built in 1937 by Roosevelt’s CCC program. Government Mineral Springs Guard Station is best described as rustic and remote. It is a two-story clabbered sided cabin with stone chimney and roofed with moss covered wooden shingles. The cabin is surrounded on all sides by huge cedar and fir trees, towering 200-300-feet into the sky. A vaulted-toilet and a well-stocked wood shed make up the other buildings on site.

There is no electricity, running water, or plumbing of any kind; a clear running stream just a few hundred yards from the cabin supplies ample water. Cooking and light comes courtesy of a propane stove and lanterns.

The sparsely furnished cabin consists of six rooms, four on the ground floor and two upstairs. On the bottom are a gathering room with a fireplace, a front room currently furnished for dinning, a kitchen and a small utility room. On the second floor are two ample sized bedrooms. Maximum sleeping capacity is nine.

The gathering room, like the dinning area, has hardwood floors and dark paneled walls. It is furnished with two futon coaches that fold out into double beds; the only other furniture in the room is a small bookrack and wall mirror. A table and six chairs furnish the front room, and there is a table and two chairs in the kitchen. Two single beds in the SW facing upstairs bedroom, and a bunk-bed with a single mattress on top and a double on the bottom in the NE bedroom, account for the remaining furniture in the cabin.

My favorite feature of the cabin were the propane-fueled lanterns attached to the walls. The kitchen is equipped with a propane stove and dry sink and is well stocked with pots and pans, dishes, glasses and utensils.

The cabin is nestled in a draw with mountains rising on three sides. There is little undergrowth around the cabin due to the forest canopy created by the tall evergreens, giving adequate line of sight and providing for ease of movement. Several hiking trails are convenient to the cabin, specifically the Soda Peak Lake trail (severe), Trapper Creek trail (moderate), and Observation Peak trail (moderate).

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