As we took the deep dive into living in the backcountry, our first hurdle was in getting water. In our previous years of research, porch talk with locals, and dreaming we found out that neighbors on the other side of the hill had drilled 900-foot wells, some of which were dry and cost a fortune, yet they had yielded nothing.
Located in the middle of a basin, the natural springs surrounding gave us the confidence to roll the dice and start drilling our own well (permit accompanied with the home purchase). With a stroke of Midas, gratitude, and happy dances, we hit water quickly and have an affordable 120-foot well with clear mountain spring water.
Although we had little to no home building experience, we did have the ever present help of friend’s knowledge and YouTube. We step by step learned what we needed to do each project right. We worked our hands to the bone digging 7 foot deep water lines that were well below the frost line. We installed our own pipes and a custom plumbing system that, to this day, is accompanied by a proud sense of appreciation with the sound of running water from the faucet.
Over the span of three months, we tore it apart, salvaged what we could, and put it back together again. We built a makeshift crane out of lumber, pulleys, and rope to haul all forty 28’ long 2x16 beams up two stories. The cabin's design was simple and seriously overbuilt to take more than record snow loads. We put the main entrance on the second floor, opposite the roof shed, in order to minimize snow shoveling and dissuade rodents. We made the roof south facing with a nice pitch for shedding snow off and allowing for future solar power. We also put in a couple huge 8x4' windows on the south side that bring in a lot of passive solar heat. The location allows us to receive sunlight all day long, even in December, and all the windows make it so that we never have to use lights during the day.
As we continue to snowboard and work on our cabin we also hold other jobs that pay our mortgage, but more importantly, allow us to ride as much as possible. These range from professional adventuring and directing a summer guide service, to writing and teaching yoga. Zach, meanwhile, works as a lumberjack, snow cat operator, and a farmer. Zach’s access to unlimited timber started his interest in woodworking and the Alaskan Chainsaw Mill, an attachment for a saw that allows you to cut planks. We dropped lodge pole pine trees, sawed them in half, sanded them flat, lacquered them, and built a log staircase, among other raw plank projects.
We who dedicate our lives to snowboarding are a rare breed, but keep pursuing that joy. In a world were the billionaire class is buying up the mountain towns of the west, we can still thrive with a little creativity and relentless passion for riding mountains.