Home 34509 State Route 706 E., Ashford, WA 98304 USA 360-569-2140/1-866-267-6814
Altimeter Cabin at Mt. Rainier
-Continued History of Altimeter Cabin...
Andrea's notes about Altimeter Cabin...
So, now we have a trail system...and, who knows? Next, maybe a workout trail? Well, let's not get carried away...
The acres behind the cabin have always served a purpose -until we adopted the place in October of 2002. It was home to an 'A' frame, an assemblage of old shingles between two big hemlocks. It was home to various dogs, some of whom stayed in 'The Dog House', until which, such a day came that, a mountain guide that will remain nameless, kicked out the dog and called the humble abode his own. He even built a brick patio! (I'm assuming the guide did the landscaping -not the former tenant. It is debatable, however, considering all the various styles of building technique, and architects who certainly had great intention & produced grand results...opposable thumbs, however, may have been optional.)
We have also unearthed other, former dwelling sites, evidenced, again (see description of the hot tubs, below), by the "ring of relics", as I have come to call them. Typically, we will clear an area of limbs and start to find a pattern of steel beer cans, Acme (no lie) and, of course, Rainier. Various rusted containers, usually coffee tins, stubby beer bottles & a fair amount of climbing rope has also survived the damp hummus. Every big wind storm reveals a new loop of colored rope, maybe meant for a 'zip line' or most probably, just for good climbing adventure, high up in a sturdy branch.
Lately, we have had unearthed a rash of Nestea Ice Tea (with lemon) glass container jars - partial rusty lids intact. These were found while trying to discern, exactly, really to no avail, where the old water lines might be ( we gave up -too many trees have grown over time into really BIG trees with REALLY big root systems). I surmise, as this was rocky, rubble-y & then [heavenly] pumice-y, dang hard work, that he/she might have been exceptionally thirsty & obviously partial to instant tea. This is a bit out of character, as beer seems to have been the drink of choice. Maybe the drinkers of the powder-y, tea-like substance were hired help & [definitely] from out of the Ashford-area. Heaven knows they drank A LOT of this drink. They definitely left a near timeless statement about their character and marked their dedication to the job... access to water was obvious...as was the desire to quench a powerful thirst.
I digress....I say the back acreage was neglected by us, until this last year, because we had so much on our plate with the cabin. But, now, with the help of Drew, a local young man on his way to great things, Ray's brother, Ron & of course, Ray, the "back 40" has now found itself again. I, armed with a fistful of cd's for the truck, backed into every corner I could without ruining the exquisite flora. We loaded up the truck, blasted out tunes & hauled years worth of alder limbs that had been stabbed into the ground so far as if Zeus had thrown them himself. We hauled brush, cleared trails, built up pile after pile, filling the sky with the sepia tones of smoke from green bracken. I hated to do it. But, you should see the result! WE HAVE TRAILS! I re-enacted my "fern relocation & protection program" and the contrast of the bare dirt of the cleared trails make the lush undergrowth sing with the sparkle of emerald jewelry. This place now looks like a quite, private park. Well, I might exaggerate a bit...we have managed a controlled chaos of the constant growth of foliage juxtaposition with the constant battle with the elements, but wow! it is awful pretty right now! Drew even hauled gravel & is making steps & stairs. Heck. We might even have a tree house before you know it! I made a few amature-ish trail signs with a router. I have never used a router, before this obsession. Ray, when I asked him to drill holes in some awkward boards, said, "Why? You do it. You have a college education." (He's a bit testy...quit smoking.) I said, "Yes, but it is obviously not in wood shop". So. That tells you a bit about my handy work, but, those old barn wood signs will lead you around. If not, just stick to the hammock & have a beer. Cheers!
What about that blue door?...
The door was originally red. Not just red, but RED. I'm not sure why. Some day I'd like to track down which mountain guide painted it and ask "Why red?". I liked it, but Ray said he was not so sure about it and suggested green. I said that everyone in this valley had a green door, including our own, and I wanted something unique and a sort of signature for this special cabin. (...UPDATE: I recently saw pictures of the claw-footed tubs that were in the original 1915-era Paradise Inn, and they were red! I think, now, the tub came from there. I found out that the lockers on the deck are from Longmire ranger station.)
Later, I went on a "day hike" up around the Paradise with my friend Bronka. ( A "day hike" with Bronka is more than many people do all year, huff, puff...) There, I made her slow down long enough to take her picture with the Mountain behind her. It was a spectacular October day. The sky was so blue...She called it "French blue". And, I got an idea. I worked for the Mt. Rainier Visitor Association and I was constantly questioned about when the rain and clouds will cease. Well, who can say about the weather here? Hey, this is the Pacific Northwest, known for heavy rain, (which I love because that is why it is so green and lush!), and it sure makes us appreciate the sunshine! Besides, when you are standing high on the trail and the clouds part like heavy tapestry on stage, [everybody say] Ohhh!, what an awesome experience!
So, I took that picture into Home Depot and had them color match the paint for the door, to the color of the sky, from that day with Bronka. I swore that I would show my guests the color of the blue sky even on the rainiest of days! We don't melt, or let a little rain slow us down around here! Grab some rain gear! There is still lots to do and see!
After I painted the door Ray said, "Wow! Now, that is a blue sky door!" And, he is still getting used to it. I think he might like it by now. Maybe. You'll have to get to know Ray. Everyone else has said they like it (to my face, anyway), especially after they know the story. I hope you will like it, too. I do. Every time I look at it, I think of Bronka and the Mountain and that spectacular fall day on the trail.
The Sleeping Loft...
The "sleeping loft" is, just as the name describes, for sleeping. It has two plush twin bed mattresses, with lots of warm blankets, fluffy pillows and nice sheets. But, there's no reason that a nice nap on a rainy afternoon couldn't be had. (The rain on the roof of Altimeter cabin can lull even the most caffeinated person to sleep!) Or, how about a board game shared between the beds? Don't forget to bring your favorite book! (We have books you can borrow...) It's also a really great place for a spooky story about a Yeti/Sasquatch! And, short of a tent on a glacier, I can't think of a better place to dream about being a mountain climber!
I insisted on keeping the loft, when everyone said, "Nobody will want to sleep up there." Well, after reading the above passage, I think you'll agree that it is a pretty neat-o space to be in! The rope that you see, laced between the beams is actual climbing rope used on Mt. Rainier summit climbs. The log ladder is original to the cabin. Again, I don't know who made it, but they made it sturdy!
I admit, the "sleeping loft" is not for everyone... It is great! for older teens and fine for adults who have no problems climbing a ladder or any fear of heights, and a sense of adventure. However, there is not a lot of head room up there and a person certainly can't stand up completely straight. The ladder is slanted- not straight up and down- and fairly easy to climb. It is permanently attached and does not wobble around. It is fun to climb! I always feel a quick smile on my face, a tiny sense of accomplishment and, maybe, a child-like, tree-climbing memory, when ever I scamper up the wood steps.
Let's face it: Ladders, like mountain peaks, are tempting. Why? 'Just watch a child on a play ground construction with ladders and bridges. They will climb up and down, and run back and forth, with absolute glee. I like to sit on the ladders' step and look around in a daydream. I feel similar when I stand in the middle of a foot bridge. I've been told that is why their are so many bridges in Asian-style gardens; To stand in the middle of a bridge puts you in a unique position as it offers the opportunity for contemplation. It is a place between where you have been and that which you have not yet reached. You are in the middle, and you can make a choice to return to what you knew, or advance into the unknown. I would suspect that many a climber has felt this way, too.
About that gorgeous territorial mountain view...
Well, what can I say about the view? It is beautiful! But, it came with a hefty price. When we started out to restore the "guest house" also very unofficially known as the "Sherpa shack", it was socked in the trees on all sides. Now, because of our former neighbor's controversial logging techniques, there is an open area to the East. We never expected, nor were ever officially notified, that this would happen, until the chain saws started. Believe me, I had many conversations with the logger, the sheriff and the county about this matter! Alas, to no avail. It seems that know the laws are now being revised to prevent this type of logging in the future, but it won't bring back the old growth that was taken.
On the 'bright' side...This gave the cabin a "view" that many people desire in this deep Nisqually River valley. But, it has also proved to challenge the pristine ecosystem of our property. We had many 'blow downs' (fallen trees) due to the storms this winter and lack of the usual tree buffer. In short, the logging of the property seems both good and bad. Personally, I would never have traded the old growth cedars that they took, for the view we gained, and will forever wish the trees were still alive over there. But, I recognize that there are private property laws in place and that, if they replant properly, trees are a renewable resource.
To make the best out of a tough situation, I must say, that, our guests may now enjoy a clear view of Mt. Rainier's 'foothills' (which are 7,000 foot mountains!) that are truly spectacular.