Sunday, 26 September 2010

Moving to the wilderness

We feel the first and perhaps the most important step in preparing for a wilderness move is to separate the dream from reality. Sure they can be the same, but sometimes there are things that must be compromised to keep sane and to live that dream in peace. For instance, how isolated do you and your family really want to be? There are a lot of places out there, at all levels, from the last place on a good road to land where you need to canoe or pack horses in for miles, or even fly in via bush plane or chopper. That place on the county road probably has power and phone, mail service, and a snowplow and road grader when needed. Our place, much further in, had a gas generator, an outhouse, and no services.
In the winter, my husband Bob snowmobiled out weekly. Sometimes he snowmobiled part and walked part, depending on the snowpack, as it was 2,000 feet down to “civilization” which in the mountains means temperature and snow differences. Many times there was no snowpack in the valley, but we had three feet. Needless to say, we had no snowplow but for the one on our truck, and no road grader or maintenance, save what we did. In snow country, it is impossible to keep a long road driveable in the winter, even with a snow plow and a 4x4 with chains on all four tires. It is very hard to plow uphill on a rough road: the wind piles snow into big drifts, very quickly at times, and sooner or later, you run out of places to put the snow, especially in the woods or drift-prone areas. The “convenience” of driving a truck just isn’t worth it. But then, we have friends living in northern British Columbia who canoe in and out in the summer, and snowmobile the river in the winter. A float plane on their lake is the only other option. You and your family must make the choice. I never minded being “homebound” all winter a bit. I always had lots to do—canning, baking, playing with our son David, riding horses on the windblown hills, feeding the resident moose, planning projects, etc. I’ve never been a “mall” person. We’re 75 miles from a K-Mart now, up on the Santa Fe Trail. In civilization... but definitely out in the boonies. I don’t mind a bit.