Whitney Free relocks the Wenatchee Guard Station after a two-night trip to the cabin in the Blue Mountains near Asotin Washington. Tony Buhr/World photos


It’s hard to grasp the word in the constant noise humans are surrounded by in our busy cities, but in a cabin, on a snow-covered hilltop amid the Blue Mountains, I experienced true silence.

My girlfriend and I snowshoed 3.6 miles to the Wenatchee Guard Station on March 24 for my birthday. We spent two nights in the cabin, which had propane heating and lighting. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday trip. My girlfriend is truly wonderful.

The cabin near Asotin is a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Wenatchee. You drive up a set of switchbacks up a steep hill to a plateau that runs straight into the Blue Mountains.

We saw almost no snow on the drive until we got to the SnoPark, which had a thin layer. But the trail had enough to justify our snowshoes and as we started with a 40-pound pack on my back and a 23-pound pack on her back, more snow started to fall.

At the SnoPark, I realized I’d forgotten my raincoat, which was a major goof. I had my two Under Armour shirts and my flannel. I thought I’d be fine, but it wasn’t an ideal situation. However, it isn’t an adventure if everything goes perfectly.

It is 1,200 feet of elevation up to the cabin, which isn’t a lot. But with full packs, snowshoes and winter hibernation belly fat, it feels pretty difficult.

As we walked the snow came down faster and faster. After a while, we realized we were walking in a blizzard. I looked over and saw my girlfriend’s hair covered in ice and felt icicles forming in my beard.

I had brought a laminated map that showed us the trail, but luckily my phone GPS was working so we followed it.

Visibility slowly grew worse as we walked and the snowmobile tracks that we had originally followed disappeared. Eventually, we were just guessing where the road was while using the GPS to double-check.

Finally, when my girlfriend said she was ready to crawl the rest of the way, we came to a hill and I looked out through the whiteout and saw the faintest outline of a building. We made it to the top of the hill and reached the cabin.

I put the code into the lock. It didn’t open.

My girlfriend reached over, grabbed the lock and yanked with a ferocity I didn’t know she had in her. The frozen lock sprung open and we collapsed inside the building.

We turned on the propane heating and lighting, took off our wet clothes and started to unthaw.

It was quite cozy inside of the cabin with four beds, two pushed together, a stove, a refrigerator, lots of pots and pans, as well as board games. It did not have running water, which I knew, and I brought a gallon jug with us in my pack. We also brought blankets and quilts for the bed.

The next day it continued to snow and we melted some of the fresh powder for water. By mid-day, it started to clear up and we ventured outside after I beat my girlfriend in cribbage.

It was quiet. It’s hard to explain the silence. It was so quiet that the absence of sound was almost loud. No animals rustled in the bushes. No birds sat in the trees. Everything was absolutely still.

The view, once we could see it, was stunning. A deep canyon dropped away right by the cabin encapsulated by snow-topped, forested hills. No sign of humanity could be seen in any direction and huge towers of clouds soared overhead that glowed with afternoon light.

On Friday morning, we hiked out in bright sunlight, a stark contrast to the snowstorm that signaled the start of our trip. The snow on the ground had frozen on top into tiny icicles that glittered like diamonds in the sun. It was gorgeous.

It took us two hours to get to the cabin on Wednesday. It took us an hour and 20 minutes to get to the car on the way back with much lighter packs.

We headed home tired, but victorious, stopping in Walla Walla for a burrito.

Tony Buhr: 664-7123

buhr@wenatcheeworld.com or

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