By Sarah Maxfeldt-Robinson
The first Summer after we were married, we lived in North West Wyoming. We went up to the tippy top of the mountains to live while the cows grazed the short but highly nutritious grass on the permit with the bulls over the Summer months. The cabin was right at treeline and much of the permit was above it. It was a forest permit with strict rules on vehicles, fires, and anything that could affect the forest. When we arrived, we were greeted by a fresh bear claw mark down the logs of the wall that held the door. Talk about welcoming! There was no plumbing and no electricity.
We got our water from a spring about fifty yards from the cabin. We went to bed when it got dark because...that was the end of the light. We lit the little wood stove before we went to bed, but the pine burned fast and when we woke up in the morning, it was in the thirties inside the cabin anyway. It was summer, but I guess it doesn't count when your at eleven thousand feet. By the time August rolled around the rains changed to snow. I cooked our food on a mini propane stove from the 1940's. We were lucky our permit allowed propane and that stove was pretty stinkin' cute so I didn't mind at all. Our perishable food stayed in a bear box- a big metal box that sat in the stream just below the spot where the spring came out of the ground. It had holes drilled in the sides so the ice cold water would flow through it to keep the food, but also kept it away from nosy grizzlies. Our non-perishable food stayed in a makeshift wooden pantry or in a tote under a bed.
For coffee, I boiled water and poured it over the grounds and let it trickle slowly down the old fashioned way. Some days it was the best coffee you ever had...some days it was the worst. After meals, I filled the coffee pot with water from the stream and boiled it to wash dishes outside. Before dark, we would fill up our water jug from the spring and try to hurry back in just in case there might be any bears or wolves around. When we first got there, I struggled getting the water back to the cabin and had to stop several times on the trip back. The air was thin and let me tell you, even the most in-shape person will struggle up that high.
The "restroom" was an outhouse about twenty yards from the cabin. The door didn't shut right and I always imagined a bear coming to visit me before I could get back to the cabin. In the evenings, if there was enough light left, we would sit on the little porch and read before we went to bed. Some mornings we would wake up to hundreds of cows around the little cabin bellowing to each other and picking through the grass with their long tongues as the bulls serenaded them with low rumblings. When I look at these pictures, it still seems fake that something like that exists or that we ever called it home for a moment in time. To most people it sounds crazy, nearly three hours to the nearest town and an hour to cell service. It isn't everyone's cup of tea, and I don't think I would like to live that way long term, but it's is one of our favorite memories and something we'll always be glad we did.
Sarah Maxfeldt-Robinson- lives with her husband Dakota on a ranch in the high desert of New Mexico where he works as a full-time cowboy. Owner of Too Tall Outlaw. Halter maker. Picture taker. Cookie baker. Lover of Jesus, plant indentification and any thing, place, or person with a story to tell. Wanna-be artist of words and paint.