“So what’s the population in Wiseman?” a friend asked.
“Right now? About thirteen.”
“Oh, that’s a decent size,” she mused.
“No, not thirteen-hundred,” I laughed. “THIRTEEN PEOPLE.”
Living in a village of roughly 13 year-round residents is definitely a conversation starter — especially considering there isn’t another village with permanent residents on the road system between here and 270 miles south to Fairbanks.
(Below: A photo I took on a drive south around the winter solstice with the moon and my favorite cotton-candy sky.)
When we say we’re “going to town” for supplies, we mean the 6-hour drive to Fairbanks. As Alaska’s second largest city, Fairbanks has many resources we utilize such as hospitals, an international airport, a university, Costco, grocery stores, construction suppliers, and tons of small businesses.
(Below: What my carts usually look like on a Costco trip. Sometimes I need more than one! Because we don't go to town often — sometimes every 3 months — it's imperative to shop smart, preserve what we can, and subsist off the land however possible.)
Throughout the last century, Wiseman — which sits on traditional Koyukon lands — has been home for indigenous peoples, gold miners and homesteaders alike. In the 1920s when the village was in its hey-day (around 80 residents), Robert "Bob" Marshall spent a year here taking copious notes on all the happenings in and around town, and wrote a book on his experience called “Arctic Village”. He called Wiseman the “happiest civilization of which I have knowledge.”
However, rumor has it the villagers weren’t too pleased a book had been written about them without their knowing! Alas, the book was a best-seller of its time, and it’s one of the books we recommend our guests read before visiting.
Despite our ability to “drive to town” today, Wiseman was a roadless community for most of its history. Like many villages, it was fly-in/fly-out, access on foot, dogsled or via rivers/waterways. In the 1970s, the federal government decided to make a road from north of Fairbanks to the Arctic Ocean to complete what became the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, to transport crude oil 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. The resulting “Haul Road” is the road we drive today. Some other villages in northern Alaska have seasonal ice roads, but none have year-round driving access like Wiseman.
You might think, “Oh, that’s sad. We should pave roads to all those places!” Think again. Although there are upsides to the ability to “drive to town” as I’ve mentioned, and it has made tourism much more common here, villagers who lived in Wiseman back in the 70s were devastated when the road was built. It wasn’t even open to the public until the 90s. We’re fortunate to hear the tales of that time from our neighbors who grew up here, and still live here today.
Still today, it’s one of the most dangerous roads in America. What makes it so is heavy industrial traffic carrying hundreds of thousands of pounds of pipeline supplies, the potential for treacherous weather, lack of resources (or cell service) for help in an emergency, and wild driving conditions on a (mostly) gravel road. To get your car towed, you're looking at a couple thousand dollars. Don't expect a tow membership service to cover this area. Traditional rental car companies don't allow their vehicles to travel the Haul Road either. Just this past week, a propane truck rolled over on a corner known as "Oh Shit" corner. In short: You need to be an extremely competent driver.
When it comes to modern infrastructure, the arctic tundra is unforgivable. “Paving roads” is so much more complicated and destructive on permafrost, mud, and ice. For the other villages, bush planes, hiking, snowmachine, dogsled and traveling on waterways are the preferred modes of transport from a purely practical standpoint — especially when you consider that the State of Alaska Department of Transportation spends copious resources year-round for the maintenance of the Haul Road.
Despite their efforts, even rebuilding and maintenance does no good sometimes… just this week, the breakup from the raging Sagavanirktok River washed out a section of the Haul Road south of Deadhorse. The subsequent delay in transport of critical goods and services while the road is rebuilt will likely cost the state greatly… while potentially trickling down to affect the price of gas at the pumps, truckers’ livelihoods, and extra burden on those businesses that serve primarily pipeline traffic.
Here's a screenshot from a local news article/video released on Thursday this week:
There’s quite a bit of controversy in our area as foreign mining operations, oil/natural gas companies, and those fighting for the preservation of indigenous lands, native peoples, and wildlife all come to a head. As our friends at the Brooks Range Council recently summarized current events: It's a clash of "subsistence issues, environmental issues, economic issues and basic human rights issues" up here.
All this certainly gives us villagers something to talk about at Mail Day! I'll tell you more about that in "part 2"…
As I reflect on the nine incredible and unique retreats we hosted this winter at Arctic Hive, I've decided that a group’s last day here feels exactly like the last day of summer camp.
My dad always told me when I first boarded the bus to camp at age 6, I was crying because I was scared, and didn’t want to leave home. A week later when the bus returned, I was crying again because I wanted to go back to camp!
That bittersweet feeling of completion was confusing — and heart breaking — and exciting, all at once. On that last day, I looked forward to seeing my family and friends and to share all the new skills I’d learned.
But on the flip-side, I was leaving Utopia.
(Below: Students enjoying the Yoga Hive during this spring's SHEWild Yoga Teacher Training)
I was leaving a group of friends who’d temporarily become my family. Our tight-knit group had felt so seen and heard. We’d bonded over a deep love of the outdoors and through an adventure in the backcountry. Of course, we all swore we’d keep in touch by writing letters, but neither handwritten letters nor modern-day texting/emailing can bring back the feeling.
Truthfully, nothing brings back the feeling of a profound shared experience.
So, this begs the question: If we’re destined to not re-create (or even fully remember) that magical Utopia, then how do we know the experience was worth it?
The answer became clear once I started facilitating those journeys. I saw it in the eyes of my campers as they finished their first backpacking trip. I see it in the confident smiles of the women who complete yoga teacher training. I see it in the glow surrounding anyone leaving a retreat here at Arctic Hive.
(Below: Part of the 11-member crew from Rove Co. that enjoyed three blissful days of XC skiing and snow science education in the Brooks Range!)
The experience is worth it because we are changed.
Nature is defined by change — if you look outside, change is all there is. But as humans, we possess a unique ability to unconsciously stay the same. We get stuck in a rut of our life like a hamster stuck on its wheel.
Then one day, for whatever soul-stirring reason, we wake up and decide to hop on our own metaphorical bus to summer camp. As we stare out the window of the bus and wipe away our tears, we acknowledge the fear in our belly and we muster all the courage we have for the task ahead.
The change that occurs on a journey of shared experience and self-discovery is profound because we’re aware that it’s happening. We’ve consciously signed ourselves up for an experience outside our comfort zone. Assuming we’re open to learning and growing, our minds take what we learn and apply that wisdom to other parts of our life.
In other words, learning through adventure helps us grow.
(Below: Guests snowshoe hiking during REWild this March)
Although we may never feel the exact feeling of Utopia after we leave it, we know it was worth it because our mindset has changed. And here’s the magical part: the world around us changes simply because the lens we’re viewing it through has changed.
Eventually, our world “at home”(regardless of the daily struggles) starts to feel more and more like a personalized, sustainable version of Utopia. If you change your mind, you change your life.
To me, that’s not only worth it… it’s priceless.
Sending you lots of love and adventure, wherever you are! 💕
“Which way should we hike today?” I ask Sean, as three of our sled dogs run circles of excitement around us. The rest of the dog yard howls in envy as Sean leads our small crew out of sight down a trail from our home.
“Let’s go this way and let the summer trail heal a little more before we walk it again.”
This simple suggestion from Sean about allowing the earth to heal — one that I’ve heard him make a million times before and during “breakup season” — struck a new cord.
I love this idea that Mother Nature, in all her muddy goodness this time of year, is healing in transition. After being covered with a heavy, insulated blanket of snow since early October, she’s finally exposed to the sun. She’s melting, shedding water, churning earth, and birthing new life around every corner.
I couldn’t help but apply the metaphor to my own life, and how “insulated” I’ve been since the new year — and likewise, how tender I’ve been feeling since the snow melted and the rivers are running.
In January, I closed the “Yoga Studio Owner” chapter of my life. After seven years of owning multiple Yoga Hive studios in the lower 48, it was the end of an era. The transition allowed me to pour my energy into the one "yoga hive" that's just a few steps out my front door in the arctic.
Likewise, since January I’ve been immersed in hosting retreat groups and running yoga trainings… until now. I’ve been so busy since the shift took place in January, I haven’t had time to pause.
As I watch the water transforming the landscape all around us, I’m taking her cue and allowing this transition to sink in.
As the sun shines in the sky longer and longer each day, I can feel my soul shining in a new way, too.
(We took the below photo at 11pm on May 14th... the midnight sun is on her way!)
As our vegetable and herb seed starts begin sprouting toward that sun, I am proudly seeing my own sprouts from seeds I planted long ago, as we launch new retreats and yoga trainings for the coming year.
As I watch our new pup, Sansa (yes, our 12th!) go through her own transition as she learns to be a part our pack, I'm filled with joy as we get to know her quirks and personality.
There will be more surprises to come as our schedule for 2024 falls into place — just as I know Mother Nature has surprises and lessons in store for us with every passing day. I am eternally grateful for her wisdom as I adjust to this new phase of life.
Hope this email finds you well — and with an open heart to this season of change 💕
We’re on the cusp of breakup season in the arctic — which (sadly) means we’re done dog mushing here in Wiseman. Temps are still getting below freezing for a short period of the “night”, which means the snow is melting fast during our incredibly long days — and we're still gaining 12 minutes more daylight per day! The creeks and rivers are building up overflow as they prepare to break up, and… we’ve still got a pack of dogs that need to run!
Daily hikes are a must — and while the dogs are busy sniffing every single tree and tussock that has emerged from its winter blanket, hiking in the snow for Sean and I goes like this:
Left foot, tentative step.
Right foot tentative step.
Left foot confident step — PUNCH THROUGH SNOW TO YOUR KNEE.
Right foot, tentative step.
Left foot — PUNCH THROUGH TO YOUR KNEE.
Right — PUNCH THROUGH.
Left foot— PUNCH THROUGH.
*Pause. Reflect in defeat.
Convince hip flexors to keep going.
Wonder if you should have worn snowshoes.*
Right foot, tentative step.
Left foot, tentative step.
Right foot, confident step. *Feeling lucky*
Left foot ste— PUNCH THROUGH.
You get the idea.
We get emails from prospective guests asking if our retreats offer outdoor activities if it’s too cold/dark/buggy/rainy/muddy, etc. Our answer is always the same. We get outside no matter the conditions because, quite simply: We live here to be outside as often as possible!
Breakup season might not be our *favorite* time to hike, but like all times of year, it has its special moments.
A few things I love about this time of year: It’s not so hot that you sweat easily, and it’s not too cold so we can easily wear rubber boots to tromp through wet terrain. Sunny days are gorgeous and long, and the mountains are still covered in snow — my favorite way to view them!
The melting snowpack is teeming with life, like stone flies, spiders, and moths, while our little friends-who-shall-not-be-named (mosquitos!) haven’t hatched yet, thank goodness.
Oh, and the birds are back! They migrating to the arctic from all 7 continents. If you just step outside and listen, it’s crazy to hear so much beautiful “noise," after a long, quiet winter. Their music is a welcome addition to the changing landscape.
The alpenglow hasn't been too shabby either:
I’ll admit, I have occasional of moments of frustration when we’re out and about… slipping and falling into a puddle of overflow. Stepping in six-month-old dog poo that’s been resurrected and disguised as tundra. Forgetting my sunscreen and sunglasses … and hat — and feeling the burn (literally) of my unpreparedness.
But each time I’m caught off guard as I adjust to the changing season, I try to lean into the lessons I’m learning through nature’s symbols. The overflow ice and puddles turn into streams and creeks that take away our snowmachine access, reminding me of how powerful I am on my own two feet.
We hike in and out of our property all summer long without any sort of vehicle/machine, till the snow is stable enough in October/November to snowmachine again. I become hyper-conscious of what I’m carrying and what supplies are needed when I’ve got to carry it all on my back!
(Below, I'm standing with all the siding for our new house — thankfully we were able to snowmachine all this up our hillside before the snow melts. This would NOT be fun to carry on my back!)
As the snow melts, we get to see all the things we left/lost back in September before the snow arrived… many of which (like forgotten dog poo) need tending because they don’t stay hidden forever. This is a powerful metaphor for cleaning up all the mental baggage that’s accumulated over the winter, too. To-do lists are made, tasks are checked off and chores are completed.
We also occasionally find buried treasure like this old Caribou antler shed that was hidden in the river bank:
I think any outdoor enthusiast can identify with the changing of the seasons and the changing of routines. What we’d typically bring for a winter hike is different than a summer hike — and the first few adventures of any season always feel like a junk show — especially sun-related adjustments because we’ve gone so long without even *thinking* about the sun let alone squint from it! Each time we get outside though, we get smarter, we refine our packing list, remember the bear spray, and we feel more at ease.
This is the school of Mother Nature. Some might even call it the Church of Mother Nature. For us? It’s Home. Mother Nature is our guru, and we’re learning new lessons from Her every day.
As I’ve been reflecting on the past few months of our winter busy season and the eight — yes EIGHT! — groups we hosted since late February, I’ve learned that I need more writing in my life. I realize how much I’ve missed writing updates about life in the arctic. Cheers to showing up in your inbox more often — and thank you for opening up and reading my words, and sharing our love for this incredible place in the Brooks Range.
I hope you, too, consider what might have been missing in your life this winter, and choose to fill your cup with what’s needed for the warmer weather ahead.
We are WOW'ed by the words of Arctic Hive guest, Kate Siber, in her essay for Outside Magazine titled: "I Spent the Winter Solstice in One of the Darkest Places on Earth."
Kate attended Winter's Womb last year, a Winter Solstice and Yoga retreat that we annual host for women here at Arctic Hive. She put into words something so special... it makes us even more excited than we are to celebrate this turning of the season with a new group in December 2022. (Click here for retreat details)
This is our favorite quote from the article:
My best girlfriend got married on Sunday in Denver. Although I would have loved to be there in person, it’s a long journey to get anywhere from the arctic. With upcoming retreats, a trip to the lower 48 wasn’t in the cards. Sean and I were fortunate to join via Zoom.
During the ceremony, there was a reading from James Dillet Freeman that felt particularly poignant, as Sean and I had celebrated our own 11th wedding anniversary on Saturday.
“May you always need one another — not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it.”
I believe all partnerships we encounter in life (marriage or otherwise) are chances for us to learn about ourselves. Sean and I spent the better part of our first eight years of marriage pursuing our own passions, coming together for epic experiences and expeditions, crossing our careers through Riding On Insulin, but essentially charting our own paths through personal growth.
It wasn’t until we moved to the arctic that the shared vision materialized. We started growing together. Building Arctic Hive allowed us to — in the poetic prose of the reading — need one another, to help us know our own fullness.
It’s powerful to witness this wisdom in nature. In all directions from Arctic Hive, valleys are magically juxtaposed with mountain peaks. The peaks are covered in a few layers of snow, while the valleys still feature running creeks and rivers, surrounded by hard-packed frosty tundra.
One aspect doesn’t overtake the other… they operate harmoniously. Their unique juxtaposition together is what makes it so breathtaking. And to create that breathtaking vista, they need one another. They aren’t hemming and hawing over their greatness, or codependency, or who’s blocking the light from the other. They just are.
If only we could all so effortlessly embody nature’s steadfastness!
The last line of the reading was my favorite:
“May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.”
Because I believe life isn’t about finding love. We either recognize love, or we don’t — and when we do, we know it's true because of our own experience loving. If we’ve never had the experience of loving someone/something, how do we know how to recognize love when it’s coming at us?
The action of loving is what validates the love we have.
Sean and I first scouted the land that would become Arctic Hive back in April of 2019. We had backcountry skied/splitboarded our way in, found the property markers and surveyed the estimated boundaries from a paper map we carried with us.
After over an hour, he looked at me — huge grin on his face — and basically oozed the words: It’s perfect. We’re doing it.
I was shocked.
Sure, I'd agreed that I would love to live in a place like Norway, our favorite place in the world — and Alaska's Brooks Mountain Range definitely looks like that without the fjords. But we were standing in a grove of tiny Black Spruce trees, on a hillside covered in tundra (and thus, permafrost/ice below), with no road access, located about a mile from a village of 12 people, 7 hours north of the nearest grocery store or hospital.
Had he gone mad?
I couldn’t see the vision, BUT — of course there was a but — I’d been married to Sean long enough that I knew one thing for sure: When he decides on a direction for life, it’s gonna be good.
It’s not that I’m not involved in our choices… of course I am. I’m fiercely independent and (to a fault) refuse to be told what to do.
I just know myself… I lack the initial spark of wild adventure that runs through Sean’s veins. He lights my fire, and that’s why I love him.
Here are a few examples:
1. When Sean had the idea that we should try living off-grid after staying at (and learning to love) a small remote cabin in the Yukon Territory, it was less than a year later that we uprooted our life, moved north to Montana, downsized considerably and found a property off the road system that offered incredible views from the perfect off-grid build site.
2. When he decided our first off grid home would be a yurt after our particularly inspiring ski expedition to Kyrgyzstan that same year, we magically found one for sale just 15 miles away.
3. When the Discovery Channel approached us to build a small off-grid cabin on that same property, Sean decided that despite our minimal construction skills, we were capable of teaching ourselves and calling on friends when needed. We amassed most of the carpentry and general contracting skills we’d need to build Arctic Hive years later.
4. When he decided it was time to move north again — to Alaska — we found the most idyllic home in less than three days: an off-grid, off-the-road-system log cabin on the Kenai Peninsula, exactly in our price range. The owners (who were in their 80s) sat us down around their kitchen table and showed us the scrapbook of how they hand-built it in the winter, in their mid-60s.
Their story inspires us often, still today.
5. So there we were, in 2019, on the precipice of a new adventure in the Alaskan arctic… and Sean had “seen the light” again.
Who was I to say no?
(I mean: Only 7 more hours north and we’re at the Arctic Ocean… so I was pretty confident this was the last move north!)
The rest was history — or at least, a story for another time.
Everything came full circle for me during the first retreat we ever held in March of 2021. I was seated at the front of the Igloo on my yoga mat, hands layered over my heart. I looked out with a deep gratitude at the six amazing people in my first yoga class here on site.
Tears pricked in my eyes, and it all sunk in.
So turns out I don’t have a fear of heights… but I do have a deep-seated fear of falling. After building so many structures with Sean, it's mind boggling that I’ve never been the one actually ON the roof installing the sheathing. Somehow I've never needed to get up there because I'm usually ripping plywood.
But you know that feeling when you KNOW you need to do something, and… your brain says, “Noooo don’t make me do this!”
But your heart says, “You’ve GOT this. It’s time.”
This was my day.
Sean got the first row started, and then it was my turn. I donned the harness, and climbed the ladder, peering over the edge to see what I was getting into.
As I tentatively placed my feet on the roof for the first time, I was surprised to feel waves of panic moving through me. Despite the fact I was roped up safely, I couldn't shake the terror. I immediately got onto my belly and slithered to the edge where we were installing the outside beam — my stress response reached a fevered pitch.
As tears pricked in my eyes, I told Sean I needed a minute.
He looked at me, in shock (with no idea about my panic until this moment) and asked, “Are you ok?”
Then I had a good pause, and a good cry, right there on the roof. Not because I couldn’t do it — because I DID end up doing it, for 8 hours! To me, crying either means I’m exhausted (which in this moment, I was not) or it means I’m releasing something.
On this day, I released whatever irrational fear my brain was clinging to all these years… and I slowly eased myself into the challenge of learning a new skill. I was safely tethered to the front wall the whole time, with Sean coaching me from below and feeding me up the tools and supplies I needed. I’m so grateful for his patience and guidance.
I gained comfort leaning over the edge, screwing in the blocking, and then lifting piece after piece through the rafters, locking them into place, and nail-gunning each row to each beam. I rolled out each row of underlayment and secured them in place… 30 minutes before the rain came, of course.
(and although it seems like we're building a house with no windows below, that's not true. It's just not time to cut them out yet — we have a ton!)
Cheers to learning new things, and DOING THEM! I'm not rushing to get back on the roof to install the metal, but when the time comes, I'll be ready :-)
Hope this email finds you happy and healthy, wherever you are.
OH! And I need to tell you: If you've been eyeing SHEWild Yoga Teacher Training, we launched a brand new set of dates in APRIL 2023! It's one of the most amazing times of year to visit the Arctic, and the retreat portion is a little shorter (7 days instead of 12)... we know it's tough to get away from home for two weeks, so we're hoping this new model works in your schedule! Here are the details. Hit me up with any questions...
Arctic Hive Co-Owner/Founder
I’m acutely aware that we’ve normalized super weird things here in the Alaskan bush that are anything-but-normal on the outside.
Take today, for example: Sean and I debated the task of ripping a few sheets of plywood for the foundation of our house we’re building. We could use the circular saw, and get a sort-of-straight cut + hair full of sawdust (great for volume btw ).
… or, we could hand haul our new table saw nearly a mile to our build site. To hand-carry could take hours… but the plywood ripping would be so. easy.
Table saw won… and our sweet sled dog Willow had just the right grin on her face — we knew she’d be up for an adventure to help.
Mollie Creek is flowing steadily through the flat part of our property. We figured we’d drag the saw in a jet sled to where the creek meets the trail, and have Willow help pull the sled like a boat on the water.
Ridiculous moment we didn’t anticipate/RMDA #1: There is a generous hole in the corner of our sled, which doesn’t make any difference in the winter, but it matters now! So the ship started her journey by taking on water. (Willow didn’t care.)
RMDA #2: There are some DEEP holes! Because I had to follow (sometimes running ) behind Willow to keep the saw from tipping, I also had to dodge my way through the creek over tussocks.
This is where you find me in the photo above… like the Titanic of the Arctic, I went down with the ship, water to my knees and into my boots.
And ladies who wear Xtratuf boots will get this: I have large calves that make a super tight seal (IYKYK) … the water got all the way down to my socks! (No surprise: Willow didn’t care one bit.)
Let’s enjoy a close up of how I really felt…
Sean, helping Willow pull on the uphill:
RMDA #3: We were tired and unfocused when we finally reached the build site, so what should have taken us 30 minutes or less to assemble became the assembly job of a lifetime because of fatigue, horrible directions, and TINY drawings.
By the time we actually ripped the plywood (which took all of 5 glorious minutes!), we were spent. Willow, of course, was ready for the next big adventure.
Yet again, life here in the arctic reminds me that it’s always better to take life less seriously, that laughter always feels better than frustration, and teamwork does indeed make the dream work.
Arctic Hive Co-Owner/Founder
Summer building season in the Arctic is almost here! A few weeks ago, Sean and I were busy with prep. Here’s the process, step by step:
Decide what to do this summer, make a materials list, order and schedule the delivery in time before breakup happens (we NAILED the timing this year). Written plainly, it seems so simple. But this step takes HOURS upon hours. I draw out all our build plans on an iPad with an Apple Pencil, which is a super duper upgrade from our first cabins that Sean drew on paper plates.
I've been asked if I learned somewhere where to draw plans for the stuff we build, and I guess my answer is yes / and no. Yes, because I learned from what Sean learned that first year... and we've bought different plans for inspiration in the past for previous projects.
But the actual "how to" of the drawing part? No. All self-taught. And I didn't even take art class in high school!
Prepare a “nest” for the materials to live on until it’s dry enough to build. This involved Sean driving over this little piece of our property over and over and over and - you get the idea. We stomped it with snowshoes, and then drove over it again. All we can do is hope for the best that we made a "flat" spot so the material piles don't fall over. And if you've ever seen Arctic Hive before, you know that a "flat spot" is hard to come by! Small price to pay, I guess, for the epic views that you get on a hillside!
Meet delivery truck and offload 7,000 lbs of materials to the side of our parking area in the village. We are a remote retreat center and commute a mile from Arctic Hive to the village, so every single item needs to be brought up piece by piece. Luckily, we're smart now... and snowmachine our materials in months before build season. But our first year? We started our build in the summer, and we hadn't snowmachined in our materials. Needless to say, the Igloo and 3 original cabins were hand hauled without a machine piece by piece, from the bottom of our hill. Whew!
We haul things up behind the snowmachine on this red Siglin freight sled, which rides super easily over all sorts of terrain. Each trip is only as good as our rachet strap job. If we make it all the way to Arctic Hive without things slipping off, we've done it right!
Fun fact: You might notice that we don't call it a snowmobile — it's primarily because they're used here in Alaska more often for utility reasons... we aren't tearing it up on our sleds every day for recreation... we use them as machines - for work. Thus, snowMACHINE. If you show up and call it a snowmobile, any Alaskan will know you're from the lower 48. It took me many months to break my own midwest habit of saying snowmobile. And another fun fact - they are often called sno-go in rural Alaska and the arctic.
Snowmachine in one load at a time. I think this took us 15-20 loads. The process went surprisingly well this time, and we often worked late into the night when the trail was hard packed, versus in the heat of the day when the snow was getting more slushy. Lots of late nights, and balancing this with feeding and tending to our retreat guests who were with us through the month of April.
It was ONLY our final load, late one night, where a bunch of materials finally slipped off our sled because the rachet strap job got sloppy. The LAST LOAD! Just another reminder that the minute you let your guard down, you have to clean up your own mess.
Offload and stack the materials in an orderly way on top of the snow, elevated by treated beams to preserve the wood… and try as best we can to make a flat surface so that as the snow melts, the piles don’t completely topple over. Then we tarp it all. We’ve only had to restack a few times due to snow melting under the stack.
We wait. We watch the snow melt and the creeks and rivers flow. We dream up timelines and more detailed plans. We acquire other materials and try to foresee the future in this new world of difficult access to certain things. For example: Wood stoves and oil drip stoves aren’t something we can always get when we want them. We need to be ahead of the game and order these things ahead of time so we can time the delivery with when we’ll need it. We learned this the hard way with The 8x10 guide cabin we built last fall… it took over 6 months from the time we ordered the little stove to when it was installed. Thank you COVID, inflation, shipping delays, etc. It all turned out in the end, but we always try to learn from our past “snafus” to prevent headaches in the future!
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