Hidden in the boulders on the slopes above the Icicle River in Washington state exists a place so special that I have struggled over whether to write this blog post. I am sharing what I believe is one of the most unique small airBNB rentals in the entire PNW.A few miles outside the town of Leavenworth a road ventures south off of HWY 2 that eventually terminates some 10+ miles into the mountains, but not before providing access to some of the most beautiful terrain in the state of Washington, including the granite boulder lined Icicle River and the classic PNW bucket list hike through the Enchantments.
It is here that Steve choose to raise his kids on the banks of the Icicle river and the adjacent hillside of granite across the road where his families d.i.y. paradise is now available to the public [via airBNB: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5006395 ].
Aubrin’s impending first birthday provided the perfect excuse for my mom and brother to visit from the East Coast and as you can imagine, there is not exactly room for two more adults in our tiny house so we decided to choose a beautiful location to meet up and rent a place that could accommodate all of us. As connoisseurs of unique experiences we were intrigued by the list of amazing sounding features at Steve’s property that in hindsight are described with much modesty; An unassuming sounding ‘stone cabin’ with a ‘clean it forward’ mentality.
We packed up the car and set out to meet our family a couple hours to the North. For those unfamiliar with Leavenworth, WA, a chance encounter would both surprise and confuse. A small Bavarian town nestled in the bosom of the upper reaches of the Wanatchee river valley on the Eastern slopes of the Cascade mountain range. An enchanting setting, with annual celebrations including the month long Oktoberfest and winter Christmas lighting ceremonies. It’s walk-able streets are packed with eateries, wine tasting rooms, galleries and trinket shops, some at sidewalk level and others accessed by narrow stairs that take you above or below.
As mentioned in our PREVIOUS BLOG POST ABOUT WINTHROP, WA, this enchanting aesthetic was not happenstance, nor is it authentic. In truth, the idea for a ‘themed’ town was concocted by a few Seattle business men in the 1960’s as an attempt to revitalize a sleepy logging town. It is here that we grabbed a beverage at a local brewery and a [veggie] brat and ‘crout at our favorite Munchen Haus before heading to the weekends accommodations.
The directions provided and arrival experience add to the sense of adventure and you would never know what lie in wait when looking up at the boulders from the parking area (you will need to carry everything you bring 50-100 yards uphill; they provide a wagon to assist). A winding trail switchbacks up around house sized boulders and Steve’s projects begin to reveal themselves in succeeding splendor. The properties most recent addition, a small tiny house on wheels built by built by Devona Vader sits on display in front of a smooth faced boulder, it’s door facing a small stream where a table and chairs sit. The arched roof line is capped with a full length skylight and the most adorable wood burning stove we have ever seen sits snugly in the corner and produces an uncanny amount of heat.
Further up the trail sits ‘picnic rock’ complete with covered eating area, propane cook top and a fire pit to gather around while mountain goats play on the ridges and peaks across the way and dinner cooks on the fire.
The trail then passes the most unique outhouse you’ve probably ever experienced, in which a naturally occurring stack of boulders offer privacy in a a sort of open air bathroom experience, complete with natural breeze and and a view of the trees.
A couple hundred feet beyond the outhouse you arrive at the original cabin in the most idyllic setting one can imagine. A stone hut constructed onto the side of a giant boulder offers rustic communal accommodations for 4-5 people adjacent to an in-ground wood fired hot tub with its own private waterfall.
It was too much to fully appreciate in these introductory minutes and we scampered around finishing chores so that we could enjoy the remaining days of relaxation. Loads of food, libations and other miscellaneous items are ferried up the series switchbacks from the vehicles parked below and we began calling dibs on the different accommodations offered throughout the property while my brother returned his focus to the hot tub.
A small trough of water is diverted from from the nearby waterfall and fills the concrete and rock tub with fresh water from the mountain slopes above. Wood (available on site) is chopped up to varying sizes of kindling and a fire roars to life in the patented snorkel stove that sits mostly submerged in the water it is working to heat.
Everywhere on the property water provides an audible ambiance, whether it be from the roaring icicle river across the road, one of the properties waterfalls or the stream that seems to wind by every area, including some perfect little tent sites that our friends utilized.
In a matter of hours the wood fired hot tub crests 100 degrees, evidenced by an excited howl let out by my brother, the afternoons fire guardian. We slide into the steaming liquid for a gratifying soak that feels much more similar to the coveted natural hot spring soak than the back deck electric hot tubs that many are accustomed to. The additional time and effort required to create this hot water experience enhances your perception of the outcome.
It wasn’t long before someone ventured up a lesser maintained trail to the top of the property and returned with reports of another, much larger private waterfall. The rest of us retraced their steps to confirm the claim and were presently surprised to indeed find our very own 60’+ waterfall/outdoor shower as well as a surprisingly familiar view.
From this vantage point we could see straight up the drainage valley of Snow Creek who’s name sake trail head provides access up into agueably one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the country; the Enchantments. A series of emerald alpine lakes flanked by pristine granite plays host to a slew of mountain goats, world class vistas and if visited at the perfect time, beautiful golden larches. It’s hard to believe that such an experience is right outside the doorstep of Steve’s cabin and it’s unbeatable location is another reason it remains at the top of our list.
On the less ambitious and hotter afternoon we sauntered across the road to a little spot near the Icicle river and enjoyed an afternoon watching the spring melt and purported Canadian runoff cause the river to swell to a size we had never seen before.
It’s hard to put our memorable experience here into words, and no single photo can convey the many things, both man made and natural, that make this place special.
Before leaving I caught up with Steve down by the parking area of the property and asked what intentions he had with some disturbed dirt and building materials I had noticed near a particularly intriguing part of the property. Turns out his mind hasn’t stopped dreaming up ways to make the experience ever more unique and he described what was in the works. I refrained from snapping a photo of the work in progress in order to preserve the final reveal but it is worth describing the reason we are already booking a return trip; A two story take on a tiny cabin will nestle up to a wood fired hot tub hidden in a cave/grotto under two three story house sized boulders that lean on each other. It’s worth a trip, trust us.