- Associated Press - Thursday, September 4, 2014

TETON WILDERNESS, Wyo. (AP) - The cabin is modest. It has one room with folding beds, a kitchenette and an outhouse around back. Corrals stand nearby for horses and mules. A freshwater spring gurgles from the ground in the front. Grizzly bear claw marks scar the outside.

It sits deep in the Teton Wilderness, in what is considered the most remote place in the Lower 48.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department Thorofare cabin is a strange sight, a little building so far away from humanity with a new green roof and shiny logs.

Despite its relatively small size, replacement of the roof of the cabin recently took weeks of logistical planning and days of work - not to mention 11 horseloads of shingles.

The difficulty stems primarily from remoteness. All work must be done with hand-powered tools.

But the nearly 60-year-old cabin is worth the extra effort, Game and Fish officials say.

It’s a respite for game wardens and biologists, a place for backpackers and horsemen to find a cup of coffee or lemonade and a symbol of law enforcement in a wild place.

“We used the cabin to fall into. There’s a little security for people to know we are back there and know they are safe,” said Tim Fagan, a retired Game and Fish warden. “I wanted to build the trust between us and the public, and I feel it paid great dividends.”

Game and Fish built the cabin in 1955, ferrying supplies 20 miles across Yellowstone Lake and another 18 miles by pack horse. It’s one of three cabins in the Thorofare in northwest Wyoming.

The U.S. Forest Service built one about three miles away near a mountain called Hawks Rest, and Yellowstone National Park has one just inside its boundaries. All three are used to give officials a place to regroup and, if someone is in the cabin, a place for visitors to stop.

Fagan helped backpackers and horsemen with everything from hoof first aid to calls for helicopters for rescues. He spent more than 35 years as a warden in and around the Thorofare.

Craig Smith took the reins from Fagan when the latter left several years ago. Smith tries to reach the cabin and patrol the Thorofare a couple of times each summer and at least once during hunting season, he said.

No matter who occupies the building, the work stays the same.

Wardens over the years have checked thousands of hunting and fishing licenses, investigated grizzly bear deaths and human injuries and monitored commercial outfitters.

They spend three or four days in drainages in the mountains meeting hikers, hunters and other backcountry recreationists, heading back to the cabin to regroup and make minor repairs on the building.

But sometimes it needs more work than what one or two people provide. A handful of Game and Fish biologists and wardens spent almost four days at the cabin replacing the roof, staining the logs, cutting down trees that risked falling on the cabin and repairing the horse corrals - all by hand.

“You don’t think about what goes into doing anything in here,” said Alan Osterland, Cody regional wildlife supervisor.

The feat required two trips of 28 pack animals. On a deadline, work had to be completed during breaks in rainstorms.

And each day, they raised the American and Wyoming flags, guiding visitors to the little bit of safety and humanity in the middle of the wild.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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