Coulter Creek Chalet
April 10th, 2016 in Yesterday
I was fortunate to get introduced to the Coulter Creek / Lake Julius area in 1967. Back then there were no roads heading uphill more than about a mile from the Stevens Pass highway, SR-2. What is now Roaring Creek road ended just after it crossed Coulter Creek at the Lake Julius trailhead. No harvesting of the forest above 2000 feet had yet occurred. My older brother, Eric asked if I wanted to go with him and Jay St. Charles to hike up to Lake Julius and to help get firewood cut for the “Chalet”.
What you might ask is the “Chalet”? It is, or perhaps better said was, a cabin built in 1951 by Glenn St. Charles, Bob Kelly, Bob Arvine, and Bill Jardine. The few non-native items in the structure included nails, bolts, hinges, reinforced plastic for the windows, a sheet of plywood for the table top, some Coleman lanterns, a white gas stove for cooking, and a cast iron wood stove for heat. Near as I can recall, everything else was made form on-site materials that included an abundance or western red cedar.
It was easily accessed from the Coulter Creek Trail if you knew just where to bail off to the right, ford the creek, and pick up the correct game trail heading to the southwest on that side. For a 14 year old city child it was heaven! By the mid 1970s I had spent many months of my youth in and around that cabin, bow hunting in the fall and wandering the area in spring and summer, running around McCue Ridge and dropping over into the Chiwaukum Lake area and beyond. We got lost countless times but coming down from the ridge was not a problem, it was almost a sport. I knew I would eventually find a trail, either Coulter, Chiwaukum or Julius. The cabin is located approximately 500 feet from what is now the midway transfer site for Scottish Lakes High Camp winter operations.
The last time I had visited what remains of the cabin was in July, 2013. I was with my other brother, Roger and my nephew Mike. We found it with the assistance of Eric Messerschmidt, the mountain Manager for Scottish Lakes. Eric knew the best place to leave the road and we dropped in right on top of it with hardly any thrashing. The lower room was still pretty much holding the original dimensions with a noticeable lean towards the east, but the upper sleeping rooms had partially caved in. I was told last week that it may have burned down last summer so I had hoped to visit again this spring and find out.
And visit I did! Saturday April 9, the weather was unseasonably warm, even at 8:30 AM. Perfect for a dash thru the second growth and the associated dense brush. The snow was firm enough to walk on top in most places so I got within sight of the cabin and snapped a quick photo before my first post-hole thru the deep snow. It happened to be as I was crossing a snow bridge and I found what had to be the deepest spot in the creek. Finding myself in knee deep cold water was just part of the Cascade spring tours that I have come close to before but this was my first submersion. Fortunately I was fairly well prepared with a pair of dry socks and a warming beverage so it a great excuse to spend about 45 minutes in and around the “Chalet” once I got there. Plenty of time to get some photos while the water in my boots and liners drained out. I probably could have even cobbled the stove pipe together and fired up the wood stove but, as I noted, it was warm already. I just had to relax and spend time with an old friend