Less Is More

Slowing down at the Woody Creek Cabin. 

Solitude is rare; peace of mind more so. Even deep in the Montana woods, our minds race and we’re removed from the moment, stressing about deadlines, bills, social commitments. It’s hard to be relaxed, paradoxical as that sounds.

When we do plan vacations or time away from the office, we cram itineraries full of agenda items. Trails to ride, creeks to fish, breweries to visit: it seems the more time we have, the more time-crunched we are.

That’s why a summer weekend retreat in the Woody Creek cabin was such a welcome change of pace. In planning the trip, I researched nearby trailheads, accessible bike rides, trout-filled streams, and the like. What I found was puzzling—based out of the cabin, there’s almost nothing to do. There are no fish in the adjacent creek. A nearby trail wanders into Wilderness, so a bike ride was out. The cabin is a short but taxing hike from Cooke City’s town center, so sampling local fare wasn’t practical. The daily activities that mark the passage of time and remind me when it’s finally appropriate to have a beer weren’t possible at the cabin—but what we found was far more valuable.

Peace and quiet.

A friend and I were able to strip the weekend down into simpler terms because our options were limited by location and regulation. But it wasn’t stifling; it was liberating.

We followed the seldom-used trail until we lost it, and then spent a good hour walking in circles, searching for landmarks to guide us home. We used the iconic Fin on Republic Peak to shepherd us back to the porch of the cabin. Then, though it was hardly evening, we started preparing dinner because, well, what else was there to do?

While the cabin was hand-built, it’s hardly rustic and comes equipped with all the trappings of home. A large wooden table divides one side of the dwelling from the other, and served as the stage for food prep, card playing, whiskey drinking, and storytelling. And stories we did tell, uninterrupted by digital distractions, FOMO, notifications, DMs, stories, posts, likes, shares, comments, or mentions.

Once the fire died down and the whiskey started wearing off, we turned in, a long day of doing nothing ahead of us.

In the morning, we woke at our leisure. With no dawn patrol to crush or put-in waiting, we sipped coffee and slow-cooked some bacon. I read, believe it or not, and took a walk to the creek to gather water. We restocked the woodpile and around the crack of noon, decided to venture up into the basin below Ibex and Pilot peaks. 

Woody Creek Cabin, Beartooth Powder Guides

With no peak to bag, PR to best, or singletrack to shred, we just walked. We took some photos, checked out a chasm where the creek had worn through rock to create a deep, steep-walled canyon, and generally lazed around a mountain meadow with no goal in particular.

Back at the cabin, we ate and drank. We spoke less, this night opting for a campfire. I dosed drowsily in my folding chair before finally giving up and heading to my bunk.

It’s commonplace these days to over-plan. We fill our workdays to the brim then jam-pack our weekends, trying to get a 72-hour bang for our 48-hour buck. Rarely do we sit down and just relax. The notion of relaxation is almost offensive to some, and you know what they say about idleness… But after spending two days not only removed but also under-scheduled, it became clear: relaxation is a form of recreation. In fact, doing nothing might be the most important thing you do all summer.

To book the Woody Creek cabin, visit beartoothpowder.com.