West Bridger Forest Service Cabin
Hello 2019! One of my main goals for 2019 is to spend more day outdoors exploring this beautiful state I call home! It’s so easy to have a few days off and convince yourself to spend your time cleaning and relaxing instead of forcing yourself to be less lazy and go on an adventure. And yes it’s great to relax and recharge now and then but since I currently don’t work full time I have a little extra time to explore. So as my first adventure of 2019 my good friend Sonia and I stayed at a forest service cabin! We chose this cabin because it is between Bozeman and Billings, essentially we met in the middle.
This was my first time staying at a forest service cabin so I had no idea what to expect. I found a few photos of the cabin online before we went and, of course, read the amenities page on the website which was SUPER helpful! I knew there would be a stove but no water so I assumed an outdoor restroom. And definitely no showers. I wasn’t sure what cooking utensils would be available so I packed what I thought we would need. When we arrived we were both pleasantly surprised with how well stocked the cabin was. It was very clean and had almost all the cooking utensils you could want. There was even a bucket under the “sink” to wash dishes! It was stocked with firewood, cleaning supplies, a mirror, a coffee pot (no filters!), a broom, ax, shovel, etc! There was even toilet paper and left over coffee! I do recommend bringing the things you can’t live without though, just in case! We used our own water bottles and mason jars for water, coffee, and wine; I don’t remember seeing many glasses or mugs in the cabinets! Oh and this one had lights in the kitchen and bedroom which was awesome because the sun sets so early in the winter! There was no outdoor lights though so you will want a lantern, flashlight, and/or headlamp for the bathroom. PS it’s my goal this year to create outdoors guides, aka things you need for camping, backpacking, hiking, etc… and I want to be better about emails SO subscribe here for email updates!!! I promise I won’t spam or sell your info; I only send out 1 email per month (if that!).
The beds were extremely uncomfortable. I mean so hard you wake up every few hours because your arm has gone numb. We cleaned the “mattresses” with wipes but only laid our sleeping bags over them. I didn’t think to bring padding; honestly, I don’t have a sleeping pad but it’s now on my list. I did not sleep well and that was a huge bummer. In terms of heat, it did get below freezing when we were there. I am not sure if the inside of the cabin was ever zero itself but both our sleeping bags went down to zero just in case. We were warm throughout the night but I did remember my face being cold. We got to the cabin around 6pm and had the fire going until almost 11pm and the cabin was just starting to get warm. Sonia has stayed at other cabins and said this stove did a horrible job of warming the cabin. But… we might not have used the stove correctly. As stupid as this sounds we didn’t know what way was open or closed for the damper but we assumed it was where it needed to be because the fire stayed decently lit. I was never much of a Girl Scout so if you have any suggestions for adult outdoor classes comment below! We both agreed we wouldn’t go back in the winter unless we brought some sort of space heater. In the main room, there were books, a cabin notebook, and a few games which is always nice to see.
I wanted to mention the outhouse because we were both pleasantly surprised. Yes it stunk because it’s an outhouse (maybe we should all bring oranges and throw the peels down there?!) but it was extremely clean. There was toilet paper, a little trash can, and even hand sanitizer which was a bonus! There was no shower and no area to shower; however, there is a creek near by if you were feeling brave.
Outside there was a fire pit with lots of seating and even a picnic bench. There were trash cans (that said no garbage?) but we kept our trash inside. There was also an outdoor grill (shown) but we just used the oven inside. The Forest Service supplied a binder which had information about weeds, bears, hikes, etc which I really loved! It even contained the history of the forest service cabin which I read out loud after a few glasses of wine ;)
Overall it was a great little cabin and a fun time. As always I had ideas in my mind of what it would be like and it was nothing like that. We both made a list the next morning of things we brought and didn’t need and things we must have for the next trip. It’s best to write these things down when they are fresh in your mind. That night we lit both fires (inside and out), put some cheese and crackers on a plate, poured some delicious Valo Cellars wine, and spent as much time outside as we could. It was very windy so the fire died down quickly and we got sick of rebuilding it and went inside. Inside we pulled the beds closer to the fire, got in our sleeping bags, journaled, and talked. Soon we drifted off to the sound to crackling fire - it truly was magical!
The next day we got up and made a wonderful breakfast. We forgot things to make coffee so we Macgyvered a pour over system which worked well. We made coffee, eggs, biscuits, and munched on muffins I had made at home. The stove actually did a great job of keeping us warm as the fire died over night. I wouldn’t recommend warmth via stove but it was nice to warm our hands as we cooked. We decided not to relight the fire that next morning but instead to get moving and explore some … which I will share later! I woke up about every 2 hours to stoke the fire back to life that night but gave up around 4am. PS I am a big zero-waste/reduce/reuse kind of person so we even brought own own oil, salt, and pepper in cute little glass jars, seen below! Another goal for my blog, in addition to outdoors guides, is to create posts and experiences that have little to no waste to inspire you to waste less too. It’s actually super easy and saves a lot of time and money. Plus breakfast is so much prettier this way! ;) Again I would love for you to subscribe so I can share that with you! I think it’s so important if you love the outdoors and amazing things like this forest service cabin to respect and preserve them for ourselves in the future and for generations to come.
It was such a great night. It honestly had been maybe 4 months since Sonia and I had seen each other which is crazy when you think about the 2 hour drive between us. We are crazy busy travelers though… I believe we have gone somewhere new each month (not always together!) consistently for the past 3 years! I used to be afraid to do things like this, especially without men or a big group of girls - I would have never imagined doing it alone - but forcing myself to do what scared me made me realize how capable I am. I can do something like this again, even alone if the occasion arose, and I loved learning that. Things like this also help you realize what is important and even more, when you don’t have internet, you realize how valuable our technology-free time is. Time slowed down and we were able to chat without even thinking to check our phones (noting I’m not a big phone checker anyways. I always check my phone at the door when I’m out with friends!). We brainstormed so many business ideas - she also does photography like me and her fiance own a tasting room, Blend, in Bozeman. It felt like once the ideas started coming they wouldn’t stop. Anyways happy camping!