Simple living in the mountains
Alone in a hand-built log cabin deep in the Canadian mountains, I’m sitting here pondering life.
It took a lot of effort to physically get here, and right now life is pretty sweet.
I’ve just done my best rendition of a hunter-gatherer-mountain-lady. I’ve finished all the cabin chores: chopping the firewood, reshaping the frozen steps, melting snow for drinking water, shoveling out the windows. You know, the standard simple living chores as a hermit/ hobo deep in the mountains.
In this cabin in the woods, the smell of damp wood and coffee lingers. It smothers the aroma of my wet snowboard boots. The fire crackles. My splitboard skins sway against the rising heat and silhouette of elk antlers hung in the doorway. It’s like I’m starring in my own romantic novel – just me, my smelly boots and my splitboard!
I could totally get used to this. The simple life.
But back home, life never feels this simple. The complexities of daily existence, time constraints and other myriads of struggles ensure there is always something to chase, fear, compare myself to, or buy. My possessions feel like shackles around my ankles. But here in this cabin, life is simple. I have everything I need, yet I have nothing. Time goes slower, with each moment more enjoyable. I wonder if simple living means stripping it all away, going back to basics. Retreating.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been inspired by the simplicity of remote cabin life. Two weeks ago near Valdez Alaska, I was invited to dinner at the most extraordinary lady’s home. Hidden from the road, Lisa’s cabin sat alone in the woods just off the Thompson Pass highway. Hand built, she didn’t stop at just the cabin. A circular beer barrel structure sat 20m uphill, stepping in as her own free standing sauna. There was a large fire pit illuminating and warming the stairs to her home. Imagine the cabin of your dreams. This was very close to that!
Being invited to Lisa’s for dinner was a big deal. An original OG of Thompson Pass, she had snowboarded with all my heroes, past and present. With a tale of acquiring an old lodge on the side of the road, Lisa was instrumental in creating the first heli-skiing operation in Alaska. I was basically in the presence of a ski goddess!
So here I was, surrounded by old books, detailed contour maps, copper pipes morphed into lanterns, recycled car-parts into tables, and fabrics dyed from mushrooms. There were odds-and-ends that you would pay thousands for in a hipster furniture shop. Lisa’s cabin was exceptional. So simple, so homely and full of so much love (& stuff!). Oh, the stories she told. I could have sat there for hours. I was so incredibly inspired. Simple living did not seem so out of reach.
As I hugged her goodbye and thanked her for her extreme generosity (really, do I have to leave?), my heart (& belly) felt fuller than it ever had before. I went to sleep in my RV on the side of the road thinking about off-the-grid cabin life while catching glimpses of the northern lights dancing through the curtains.
It was like the universe was trying to tell me something.
So finding myself in a cabin again, this time in Canada, well and truly off-the-grid, I’m dreaming up ways to make simple cabin life, a reality.
Sadly, unless I get hit on the head by a lumberjack and dragged back to his cabin (yes please), I don’t think my distant mountain-woman dreams will become a reality in the near future.
So how can I live a simpler life without becoming a mountain hermit?
Living simply isn’t necessarily about getting rid of your stuff, although I did feel amazing selling most of my possessions a few years ago. Looking around Lisa’s cabin, she had so many things. But it was stuff she had herself created, and it all had a function and purpose. Like she had gifted it to herself in an act of love.
While not excessive, it was evidence of her resourcefulness and lack of reliance on modern comforts. Comforts we think we need, like the shoes and the bag … and then the required home insurance for the shoes and the bag. But that really is not the case. They just complicate things.
To be capable is one character trait that all simple-living folk I have met share.
Finding simple joys in time spent outside. Reducing excess. Fixing something if it is broken. Figuring it out by yourself and not paying someone to do everything for you. These are all ways to keep things simple.
There is so much pleasure to be derived from taking that simpler approach. But most of the time it comes down to, well… time! But the irony is, the simpler life you try and lead, the more time you have. I just have to open up my email or phone to see how much excess crap I have going on, sucking away time and my energy that could better be spent on other things. Unsubscribe, please.
So while I fantasize about #vanlife, building a tiny home, a tree house or a mountain cabin deep in the backcountry, I know that living a simpler life doesn’t have to be as extreme as being off the grid.
And if simple living means more time (and money) for these adventures, then that’s something I think we should all strive for. I always like to remind myself that life isn’t a dress rehearsal. And there is no pocket on that last shirt.
Header image of a cozy A-fame cabin in the woods that you can stay with on AirBNB. Claim your free AirBNB gift voucher from me you can use towards any stay.