Monday, August 29, 2011

Peterson Lake Cabin

It's been raining - I mean really raining - for two straight weeks. We've had flood warnings on lakes and rivers. The streams have been brown with runoff instead of their usual pristine crystal blue.

Mr. X had a cold. In fact he'd been nursing it all week. So Thursday night when I asked him if we were keeping our reservation, he was guarded. We packed, but not confidently.

Friday evening when Mr. X picked me up in a torrental downpour I questioned why we torture ourselves. Why do we bother hiking in the rain?

Nevertheless, we headed out the road to mile 24 to hit the trail.

We'd heard terrible things about this trail. Knee-deep to thigh-deep mud all 4.25 miles. The rain we've gotten was sure to make the trail that much more enjoyable.

We also knew that we were hitting the trail late in the day, when bears would be active and we desired to be at the cabin before night fall. Thankfully, the Peterson Lake Trail has an elevation gain of 700 feet so, I calculated 2 - 2.5 hours for the hike in. Plenty of time before dark.

Trail follows historic tram route

We followed the trail through gorgeous forests, across muskeg just changing color for the fall, past incredible waterfalls and finally along the Peterson lake edged with lily pads. I was surprised at the good trail. There have been some improvements, particularly in the first mile of the trail - but I was hiking in rubber boots and rain gear so the muddy spots weren't anything I should have been afraid of. I compared the trail to Cowee Meadow to Camping Cove trails which can be rooty and muddy as well.

Boards from 1910 tram

We reached the cabin at 7:30, 1 hour 50 minutes after leaving the car. We got out of our wet clothes (fortunately, it really didn't rain on us, we felt very lucky), inspected the new boat and new outhouse and then turned to our chores. Mr. X grabbed my new collapsable bucket and headed for the roaring stream behind the cabin. Instead of standing on a mossy rock, balancing filter and bottle, he just scooped up water and placed the bucket on the front porch in case we wanted water later.

We were (probably) the second group to use the newly remodeled cabin. The walls and ceilings have new tongue and groove panneling. The bunks, table, "kitchen" are all brand new. The deck, dock and cabin trail have been updated. We were pleased with how clean everything was.

By now, it was dark, so we sat down to do some reading. Mr. X lit a candle and balanced his guide headlamp on the table. I read the history of Peterson Lake.

Sometime in the middle of the night we both woke up to soft scratching sounds. I couldn't identify the source. I thought mouse or squirrel. Mr. X had seen the reflection of the eyes of a weasel, marmet, or wolverine. The skies cleared and I enjoyed actually seeing stars.

In the morning, armed with hat and neck gator I sat under the eaves on the porch to read my book. A duck flew by. A stellar jay and winter wren checked me out. In fact, the winter wren (which is smaller than my palm), made such a racket, I thought a bear was going to come around the side of the cabin.

At 9:45, I suggested that since this cabin is a "warming shelter" and only 168 square feet that we get dressed before any hikers came knocking. We had just exchanged long johns and lounge pants for our muddy rain gear when a Forest Service employee walzed up the path. He was there to collect 60 - 80 lbs of equipment left from the cabin remodel. Yes, he did fit everything in his backpack and turned back down the trail, thankfully leaving a bottle hand sanitizer and a roll of TP for future renters to enjoy.

Mr. X then gave me rowing lessons and I rowed us around the lake, looking at lily pads as we went. After a quick lunch we packed up for the trek back to the car. We sure had enjoyed the tranquillity and freedom from cares on our short trip. I think I'll be back (perhaps, AFTER, they finish fixing the trail) next summer.

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