IDAVATION: Johnson Creek Guard Station

Several months ago I began researching a cheap overnight Idaho destination - an "Ida"vation - for Eric and I to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary. The Boise Weekly had run this little story about renting this 1920s ranger cabin near Yellow Pine for just $50 a night and I knew it would be perfect.

I got on this website to find out more details and the spot looked perfect for us - a rustic getaway in the middle of nowhere with fishing nearby. I called and booked our night for July and got my mom to agree to stay with the girls - it was our first night ever away from Alice and I was a bit nervous, as there is no telephone service for miles. Also, it was FOUR HOURS AWAY. When I called the Cascade Ranger Station to ask about emergency contact info, they informed me my mom would have to call the Sheriff at home and he'd drive to the cabin and find us in the event something should happen.

We packed up our supplies, which included essential items like beer, playing cards, Reeces Pieces, fly fishing rods, this lovely, amazing book on CD from the Library! for our long hours on the road, and our binoculars. It has been years since we had just tossed some things in a bag and hit the road. This little luxury was monumental for us. No diapers! No coolers filled with formula and sippy cups and Goldfish crackers! No Polly Pockets! No Dora movies!

We were, however, thrilled to pack up the wine and sushi for dinner. Eric joked that it was probably the first time sushi had ever entered that cabin before. I think he's probably right.

The cabin has one bedroom with two twin beds and two cots, not the most ideal sleeping arrangement for a lovers getaway, but we made due. The cabin could really accomodate quite a few others if you brought an air mattress or tent for the backyard.

We shared the grounds with these sweet boys and they loved hanging out with us, watching the amazing sunset over the mountains and the deer coming down to the creek to get a cool drink.

Eric and I spent the afternoon fishing along the creek, playing rummy, and exploring Yellow Pine, which I had never been to before. It's a little village, known mainly for their annual harmonica festival and had a couple of saloons, a mercantile, and about two restaurants. My favorite part was the little pioneer cemetery and makeshift pet cemetery the local residents have added. We also spent some time hiking around the Forest Service property, following the deer trails into the mountains and even found the original cookstove from the saloon and hotel for miners that used to grace the site back in the 1800s, it's intricate detailing wasting away in the wilderness.
All in all, it was a lovely mountain respite from the city and the accommodations were charming. It is really far to drive for just one night, though, and you must have a tough rig that can withstand the narrow and steep gravel and dirt mountain roads. Also, there is a little prairie landing strip that is popular with Idaho aviators, so we were surprised by the amount of air traffic, which kind of took away from the still quietness of the mountain setting. Next time, we plan on bringing our girls and some other friends and staying a few more nights. And this time I'll happily load up the Pack-n-Play travel crib, water noodles, juice boxes, Barbies and coloring books.