My first time visiting The Cabin was March 2009. Bryan Wiegers had been asking me to join him for a trip and after hearing the conditions (lots of snow and cold) certain times of year, I have to admit I was skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to hike, but this has always been a spring, summer and autumn hobby. The early descriptions and gear requirements gave me thoughts of Mt. Everest and I wasn’t interested in coming home permanently damaged with frostbite!
Bryan assured me I’d be safe and he had all the gear I was missing. We (Bryan, Brian Crabtree, Jay Duncan, Pat Laughran and me) met in the parking lot of New England Chapel on Friday, March 13th to head up together in Bryan’s truck. Everyone that knows Bryan understands he does everything with a purpose.
The 3-hour drive up together was an ice-breaker. We knew each other from NEC, but didn’t have “relationships” at this point. A comfort level with each other was being developed as Bryan probed with questions that needed more than a “yes” or “no” response. We arrived at The Cabin trailhead parking area (now known as the Gordon Trail that starts from Shorty's Landing) and Bryan opened up the back of the truck showing a selection of snowshoes, gaiters, ski poles, etc. to choose from.
The hike up was great! The conversation flowed and the snow was easier to navigate on the trail than I expected. It was hard to believe we were walking on 3 feet of snow! (Note to self – get a pair of snowshoes)!
We came to a clearing and decided to have a couple of snowshoe races. Jay was a pro and dominated the field. I got my first view of The Cabin after a couple of more twists and turns on the trail. It came out of nowhere and just “popped” into view. It was beautiful, sitting majestically on the summit of East Haven Mountain. (It was almost as if a helicopter dropped it on the mountain…) We had some chores to do, clearing snow off the deck, getting wood for the stove, turning on the old propane lamps to get some heat and light before a feast of steaks, potatoes and vegetables.
So what do you do in tight quarters, without cell coverage or television to distract you? You get real! After filling our bellies, we sat in a circle and Bryan started the conversation.
"Who are you?"
"Tell us about your upbringing?"
"How is your marriage?"
"How did you come to know the Lord?"
I had just become a believer and knew transparency regarding my past struggles was part of the healing process. It was so great to have guys that I began to trust and I could see cared about what I had to say. We talked for several hours. Nothing was forced. We were just five guys talking about life…highs and lows and everything in between. We prayed for each other.
The next day we hiked some more and explored the mountain, and had a fun (and safe) target practice session on a few aluminum cans with Jay’s 9mm. The weekend was great. Relationships were forged. Burdens were unloaded. The cold did not take away any of my fingers or toes.
Hiking down, I felt a bit of melancholy. Life was simple, without distractions at The Cabin. We had a big breakfast at a local diner and headed back home. It’s been 11 years and I still remember the details about my first trip to The Cabin and am looking forward to taking up my four grown sons next time!