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Thread: Wilderness Living Dreams or Delusions

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    Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Default Wilderness Living Dreams or Delusions

    For some time now I have wanted to live way out there. You know, be one with nature. Well maybe not quite like that but definitely some land with a cabin away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. A very good friend of mine did just that about 12 years ago. He built a very modest (12’x 20’) cabin, which he lived in for almost 3 years. He then added a 14’x 24’ addition and a deck. It has grid power, indoor plumbing, and all the creature comforts. It sits back about ¾ of a mile from the road on his 10 acre lot. Sounds perfect to me and I do envy him. I also had the pleasure of meeting a member from this forum who has lived this type of life longer than I have been alive. I spent hours picking his brain to satisfy my fantasy. He shared every detail about this lifestyle, and I mean every detail. I left with a much better understanding of what it really takes to live like this. One thing that amazed me is the amount of money it takes just to live in, what most today would call “poverty” Another thing that really shocked me is the amount of time a simple job/task takes to improve living conditions in a situation such as this. I will not go into specific details out of respect for my friend but it is staggering. I’m not sure many people are truly aware on what it really takes, physically, mentally and financially to live like this.
    Former A.F Staff Sergeant

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    Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Default Wilderness Living Dreams or Delusions (Part 2)

    I’m sure most seen it just as I did, with wonderment and amazement. To live like the old Pioneers did, off the land and self sufficient. Let’s just think about that for a second…Pioneers had an average life expectancy of 39. Ok so maybe that is a little overdramatic, but still something to take into account. The point is it is hard, let me say that again, hard work to live like this. Now sure if you have indoor plumbing, grid power, oil/gas heat etc. then it wouldn’t be much different than living in town. Huh, no different than living in town, well then why not stay in town? Oh that’s right because it’s safer away from town. Well I know one person that would disagree with that from personal experience. The wild is a better place to be if SHTF. That may be true, but where do you think all the people from town will go? Now it is not my intent to discourage anyone from trying this. It is not my intent to say it can’t be done I’m not even saying it shouldn’t be done. All I am saying is that it is not as romantic as many believe. You have to think that the further out you go the harder it will be. I can hear you all now, “well duh Doug, we knew that.” But do you really? Obviously I have no real experience on this, and I don’t claim to, but I did get an eye opener about it.
    Former A.F Staff Sergeant

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    Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Default Wilderness Living Dreams or Delusions (Part 3)

    So let’s say, hypothetically, I found a great piece of land. Say 10 acres with beautiful views of mountains, a little creek and about an hour from town. Now there is road access to it, which is both good and bad. (Good because I have easy access, bad because others have the same easy access) Ok so I have my dream land, now what. Well I need a driveway, and of course I want the cabin off the road a ways so it must be long. (Let’s say 300’ in) Ok sounds easy but I have no heavy equipment, so I will have to rent some. Probably need a permit too, and can’t forget the rock. Now I have no idea how much that would cost but I’m sure it isn’t cheap, not to mention we are an hour away from the nearest equipment rental place. But we get it done…now we have a driveway on our beautiful land. Ok what now. Well got to have a cabin, right? Ah yes the glorious cabin/lodge. You know the kind, 2,000 sq ft with huge windows so you can eat at the table and see the mountains. Or if you are a bit more modest a 300 sq ft cabin/shack. Either way you have to get supplies to the site. You have to have power tools to build this thing. Not to mention the weather and time of year you are trying to do this. It could take a year or more to get this thing done. Between material shortages, weather delays, contractor issues, and your schedule, who knows how long it could take. But let’s say you miraculously get it done in 6 months. So now you have a cabin on your little piece of heaven. So are we done, is that all? Well sure if you plan to use it a couple days at a time. But to live in it full time, we are far from finished.
    Former A.F Staff Sergeant

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    Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Default Wilderness Living Dreams or Delusions (Part 4)

    We might want water, power and heat. So we install a wood stove. (But now we need firewood and lots of it every year) We decide on a well. (Again we need heavy equipment to dig it out and run the lines) Then we have to run sewer lines and install a septic tank. (More heave equipment which means more money) Now it’s time for power. Oh sure you could live without it, heck if your tough enough you could live without indoor plumbing as well. But we decide we like having a way to keep food cold all year, we like having a computer and we like having lights. So now we have to decide, grid or off grid. Now I can already hear all you hard-core guys out there, off grid all the way. Ok so solar power, wind power, hydro power or generator. Well they are all very expensive to install and the generator would be costly over time with all the fuel needed. So I would pick grid power with a backup system of some sort. Now grid power can be expensive up front also, depending on where the power lines are. But we’ll say it is at the road. Piece of cake then…well not exactly. Still have money to shell out for that too. Nevertheless we got it all hooked up. So now we have our land, driveway, cabin, heat, water/sewer and power. Finally we can sit back and enjoy our paradise…..not so fast. Now we have constant chores to do. Firewood needs cut and stacked and might need food. More than likely something will stop working or need to be redone, anyone who owns a house knows there is always something to do. Now the first winter comes. 4’ of snow falls and now you can’t get down that fancy new driveway you just installed. It gets colder than you expected so you burn way more wood than you thought so now you are out there cutting wood in -10* weather. Your water lines freeze up because you forgot to use the heat tape. The power goes out because of all the snow on the lines, so now you are using the generator. Which is fine but you run out of fuel and still can’t get out of the driveway. Your food supply starts to dwindle down too. Not so wonderful and exciting now, huh? Not exactly what you signed up for is it?
    Former A.F Staff Sergeant

  5. #5

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    ok iam going to say something after reading up on bush life and the liveing in alaska post here..

    ok here goes..

    heat ..

    one the cabin is the one are where bigger is not better out in the bush ..from i what i read here and in a couple books on bush life..


    say small and it helps with the heating of the cabin in the winter time..


    my so called cabin is less than 140.sq ft total..and once it gets there i going to put it up on a platform to help with underside staying warm in the winter time by incloseing the bottom of the platfrom all the way around the cabin frame .


    when it gets up there i going to hire a local handyman and me and him are going to build the platfrom togerther along with the unit is place and the jacks are set on the areas to make it stable ..me and the gentleman are going to cut the 4-x-4-post to size and fit them under the carriadge of the unit intill its sits on a framed underthe body typle platfrom and then we are going to frame the underside of the platform in with -x-1-.inch thick weatherprof typle plywood then paint the unit as need



    with me and him makeing sure before it finshed beening paneled in him and i going to make sure the all the lines are heat taped and ready for winter time as need along with anything else i going to have done for the following winter time ..along with the out lines for waste water is taped down with heat tape to a point and they going into the ground away from the area as need ..with a local plumber guy helping me with that idea..


    for the unit is comeing up here next summer is when i going to start to build on the land up there..


    the one idea that the one guy said was to build a extension on to the platform and heavy insulated the one room where the washer and dryer is ..for the weekly use of the unit ..along with a small off site area with the step down typle platform for the building where the gen set is for chargeing the batties bank along with small stowage shed set up on the unit ..


    have it about 10.ft away from the cabin house with a small walkway platform ..to keep the snow and the mud off the walkway as much as possible ..




    heat -p-2-

    the tumbleweed cabin is heated with a small wood stove that it only job to do is heat the place and keep me warm in the winter time ..

    plus a wood supplie for it a going to cut down to super small wood sticks ..

    plus anything that i can get from a local home saw millcast off wood at the site..dureing the small time..


    plus with the small chainsaw unit cut the logs down from the bigger unit or use a wedge shaped unit to keep cutting the small logs down into small pieces of wood for the stove to burn ..




    propane for cooking and water heating system ..

    iam going to cook with propane set up with n-100. sized propane cylimder to cook with on the two burner set up along with the tankless hot water heater system ..-x-23.gallon sized tank..so the daily heating of the water to take a shower and cook two meals a day on the stove unit ..

    that tank should last me over a threes to four months time frame before i have to refill it ..so two tanks should last me a while.. in the summer i will take them and have them filled up as need for the comeing winter..

    plus the washer and dryer are a combo typle set up with a ventless style ..



    food ..

    you should have enough food to last you a month in the house as it with out going to the store for the basic supplies to make up meals..plus some form of back up food stowage plan as need up to 1 year if need be..

    then add what i call the 3-.month back up plan of quick fix items along with basic bulk items to make up meals for you and the wife and the kids..




    deisel gen set up..


    i plan on a small 6000.watts diesel back up gen set to charge the battie system as need ..with a rate of 13.hours run time on a half a load typle
    and about 6.hours run time on a full load ....

    so i used it for two hours a day to charge the battie bank on days the wind set up is not doing so well..

    along with a three hour weekly run time for the washer and dryer set up as need to do the wash and dry as need for the week ..

    with a rack of 4 -5-gallon jerry cans of diesel fuel i should be ok intill i can get into the town after the snow storm ..




    running a power line out to the cabin area..


    how far off the main road did you plan to go ..the more that you go from the road more it cost to run a electric line back to you..for it cost so much per foot to the road and connecting the elec line set up to the power grid and they have to put into new post and run new wires out to the place and they do by the foot to the place..i found this out when they want to connect the house in texas to the local power grid and they where going to cost me over .$.10,000.oo dollars to run a new lines and poles out to the cabin from the county road about a 1.mile and half from the road..so i told that they could keep the power line ..i would keep the basic solar power set up i had in texas..



    so a are going three to five miles off the road ..or 100.to 200.yards off the main road


    or more likely less then 100.yards off the main road..

    my cabin is going to set back about 150.ft from the main road area on the land that we own in alaska ..with me beening out in the socalled bush but still able to get into town for fun and supplies as need ..


    ok when the show stops falling get the truck out and make a path to the road with the truck ..or a atv unit with a small snow blade set up and plow you a path to the road to get out as need intill the state comes along and opens the road back up with salt trucks and snow plows trucks..

    i do think that the state of alaska has snow plows truck along with salt trucks for the road clearing of snow ..



    it matter of haveing diff plans and back up plans for each phase there ..that all ..think about the needs and what and plan around that..

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    Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Like I said it is not my intent to deter anyone from trying this at all. I am also not here to point out flaws in anyone's plan. It sounds good in theory and on paper, but it's not always as easy as planned. Plus location will play a huge factor in this, expecially up here. Most places have all the materials on hand and ready. Up here they don't always have it, so you have to special order it and pay ungodly for shipping. Plowing up here is good, but there again that depends on location. I doubt they plow the very rural roads often enough. But as I said I didn't write this to debate anyone since I have no first hand experience. These are just thoughts I had and my opinion.
    Former A.F Staff Sergeant

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    Chugach Electric $55.00 per foot to run under ground electric. So one mile = $290,400.00 One thousand feet = $55,000.00

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    I too, have had that romantic dream since I was a kid. I have no experience with it either, but I have learned a lot just by doing a lot reading on this board. My dream has always been the life like Dick Proenke (sp?) portrayed in his writings. I've realized though, that I couldn't do it like that. I'd probably end up dead out there if I tried, so I've resigned to having some property with better access. I staked land this summer in the Ridgeview area near Glennallen. I'd still like to give it a go as a permanent residence at some point in the future, but right now I haven't either the money or the knowledge to do it. I suspect it will never be anything more than a summer retreat. It's kinda sad when I think about it, but that's just the reality of it.

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    Up here they don't always have it, so you have to special order it and pay ungodly for shipping.]
    Like what? There isn't much that isn't available on the road system. My store, SBS, Home Depot, Lowes... I can't imagine what you'd need that we don't have. The biggest problem I have is with heavy equipment parts, but even my relatives in Montana have to second day air most of their parts.

    My biggest and best advice is that if you plan on building more than 75 miles from a building materials store, invest in a good tandem axle trailer and a truck to tow it. Yes, we all will deliver, but you are going to pay a price for that.

    Frankly, any place you can drive in the state isn't that much more expensive to live in than the nearest city. You just have to live differently.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Doug, am I reading this right? a 10x14 cabin? 140sf.

    I think everything to build a place that size can be hauled on a snowmachine trailer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock_skipper View Post
    Doug, am I reading this right? a 10x14 cabin? 140sf.

    I think everything to build a place that size can be hauled on a snowmachine trailer.
    I didn't write that. I never specified anything. Everything I wrote was "in general" I think henry said he is building a cabin 140 sq ft. I wrote this thread not to diliberate all the ways that it can be done, but to share what others that have done it went through. Just wanted to share the trials and tribulations of what it really takes to make this work. Anyting is doable, and I'm sure most could build their dream cabin in the woods and have their dream come true. But from what I have seen most people think it is so easy and very cheap to make this work, which isn't always the case. But if anyone wants to share the true costs and what it takes to have this, by all means share it here.
    Former A.F Staff Sergeant

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    Member Rock_skipper's Avatar
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    My bad Doug1980,

    I've lived here for 45 years and yes if you have the will you will find a way to make your dream come true.

    That said the main thing is to have the will.

  13. #13

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    the tumbleweed house company ..

    it 19.ft long-x-8.ft wide..house set up on a rv style trailer unit with wheels and you can sit it up on the a wood frame base set up then remove the wheels or leave the wheels on and move it as need ..

    the trumbleweed cabin or home..it prebult unit with the unit been moved as need ..with the rv style system as need

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    Member Dirtofak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    Like what? There isn't much that isn't available on the road system. My store, SBS, Home Depot, Lowes... I can't imagine what you'd need that we don't have. The biggest problem I have is with heavy equipment parts, but even my relatives in Montana have to second day air most of their parts.

    My biggest and best advice is that if you plan on building more than 75 miles from a building materials store, invest in a good tandem axle trailer and a truck to tow it. Yes, we all will deliver, but you are going to pay a price for that.

    Frankly, any place you can drive in the state isn't that much more expensive to live in than the nearest city. You just have to live differently.
    Doug,
    As you know, I do heavy equipment parts. My father -in-law lives in NM and runs a rental yard. His biggest complaint is freight.

    Mike

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    I just looked in my crystal ball......It said 14.1% real inflation with-in two years, and 23.4% real inflation with-in four years. 37.6% real inflation with-in six years. The cost of Dreams could be going up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    I just looked in my crystal ball......It said 14.1% real inflation with-in two years, and 23.4% real inflation with-in four years. 37.6% real inflation with-in six years. The cost of Dreams could be going up.
    No wonder Jimmy Carter is back in the news......

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    Mike- I haven't tried you guys yet Maybe in the near future.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    In my mind? Wilderness living and road access are mutually exclusive. When you have the ability to get into a car and drive for supplies and/or social company your life is much different than when you don't have such options. Self-reliance in one case is a hobby. In the other its all there is. Big difference. Especially when something breaks. Like a generator. Or one of your legs.

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    I totally agree PID.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    It's an interesting discussion. I too had the dream when we moved up to Alaska. But the reality was that we had some debts, which required a job, and that lead to a mortgage, and the reality is we have seemed to manage to take advantage of what Alaska has to offer inspite of having to work and live in the city.

    But back to the dream. The reality is whether we're talking about miners in the late 1800's, or today, the dream takes money. Back then they had their grub stake for supplies. Today you'll need a load of supplies and tools, and you'll need to be able to buy land and have it paid off free and clear. If you don't have the funds to do it free and clear and have supplies for at least a year, then you are much more limited in what you can do. This isn't bad, but it's a reality you need to come to terms with. The rough numbers I've figured on is $50,000 will get you some land, tools, building supplies, food and transportation. That's a number on the low end, one could easily double that and you'd still be living in a cabin in the woods.

    It's interesting the comment that if there is a road to the place, it isn't remote living. Yes and no. I don't believe there is anyone off the road system that doesn't travel at least a couple times a year to a population center, nor that doesn't have some of their food stuffs shipped in. So is it a more authentic experience if you have to have your supplies flown in, or just a more expensive experience? There are plenty of places "on the road system" that are far enough away from population centers that a medical emergency could end in a fatality. Especially when you contend with road closures from winter storms or spring flooding.

    With the way ADF&G has managed game due to political pressures over the past decade or so, there are many areas of the state where you can't depend on big game providing the majority of your protein. If anything I believe that will get worse before it gets better. You'd have to be one heck of a gardener to grow enough vegis to last a year. Will you make enough $ running a trap line to get by?

    Ultimately it just takes the will and focus to make it the lifestyle you want. Lots of hard work, but I've always found an honest day of hard work is it's own reward. If'n I were single I'd give strong consideration to quiting my job and living in the woods, but I'm not so it isn't a consideration.

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