Cabin Life: Living in Tollgate and the First Impressions

We closed on the cabin in the first week of August. Temperatures were regularly in the upper 80s, trees were covered in green leaves, and the dirt road into the mountain community was drier than Death Valley. Yet, whenever we chatted with any of our neighbors or friends who knew the area, they only cared about one thing. “How prepared were we for winter?” I couldn’t believe it. It was summer, why was anyone caring about winter just yet, but it didn’t take long for me to understand why they always asked that. Three simple words: preparation takes time.

We hadn’t really thought about all the preparation until we started diving in with full steam ahead. We were going to need 7-9 cords of wood. A cord is measured to be a stack of wood 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long. A.K.A., a lot of wood! How does one prepare for a mountain winter in Utah when your primary source of heat is a wood burning stove? Simple, you just need to get nine trailer-loads of firewood before the first snowfall. Well, I guess it’s not simple at all. The main source of heat in the cabin is a wood burning stove. Albeit, we do have an electric furnace that is vented throughout the house, as well as a pellet stove and propane stove in the basement. With that being said, we’re trying to primarily heat the home with wood since it’ll be a much cheaper option than using anything else.

The next big hurdle that we’ve faced is the unknowns and how that affects how much time it all takes to get done. What I mean by this is since we live outside of town now, it now takes us about 30+ minutes to go to the Home Depot or grocery store. So now when I start a new project, it might take me 4 trips to HD and back to get everything I need for the job, which can take the better part of the day just in transit back and forth from town to the house. This now changes the way we approach things and planing that we need to get or do to the cabin. I’ll try to figure out all the supplies and tools I’ll need for multiple projects and get it all at once so I can keep working through as issues arise. But even then, it is a part of living in a remote area, these conveniences are the price we pay to not hear highway noise anymore.

The other thing that we learned about living in a remote place on a mountainside, is the services available to us. When looking for Washers & Dryers, electricians, roofers, plumbers, etc, we were regularly turned down due to the fact they won’t drive a truck up our road due to the rugged-ness or potential snow hazards. At some point, we accepted our fate and just went with any service that would come up to us, which makes you appreciate any help you can get. To bring this home, Courtney had to pickup the two technicians, that were scheduled to install our wood stove, at the bottom of the canyon and drive them up to our home in her Jeep because they were concerned about their work-van making it.

Of all the difficult things living on the mountain can be, meeting people and making friends is not one of them. Everyone up here is in this together, so it is easy to understand when someone needs help and even easier to ask for a helping hand. Our next door neighbor immediately took us in, having us over for drinks and giving us all the advice she could about living up here. She told us what to expect come winter, how to handle dogs interacting with wildlife, and of course the lowdown on all the neighbors and the people who’ve been living in tollgate over the years. Her tips were invaluable, just like all the advice our new friends give us every single week on how to thrive on the mountain.

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