I grew up in Colorado in a small town located in the foothills just north of Colorado Springs. Most of my family lives in Colorado, however my aunt and uncle are lucky enough (in my eyes) to live in the small community of Saratoga, Wyoming, a town of 1700 people about 150 miles west of Cheyenne. When I left home to attend college in Laramie, Wyoming these two generous people were the closest family I had in the area. Laramie is only an hour away from Saratoga in the summer (when the mountain pass is open between the two).
Throughout my five years in college at UW I tried to spend as much time as I could with my uncle. I think of him as the ultimate mountain man. You see, if you were to send him out into the forest with nothing but the clothes on his back he would be able to survive. He knows the mountains surrounding Saratoga like the back of his hand.
When I was a freshman my aunt and uncle obtained a small 20,000 sf piece of land located at the summit of Battle Pass in the mountains about 40 miles outside of town. In 2008 they paid $3,000 for the whole thing. Their property is located on the grounds of an old mining town that used to mine gold ore during the gold rush in the 1800’s. Today, the only remains of the town are a few artifacts we collect during our hikes and as well as the original property lines, road easements and mining claims (of which some families in the area still have).
Near this property there are endless miles of Wyoming wilderness to explore. The township is surrounded by the Medicine Bow – Routt National Forest and has quick access to several hiking and four wheel drive trails. The only catch is that there is no running water, no sewer service, no electricity, and no access to the property in the winter because the highway is closed when it snows. The only access to this area in the winter is by snow mobile or horseback.
This past summer my aunt and uncle began the endeavor of building a small 24’x32′ log cabin on this property so that they could enjoy all of the abundance that this wilderness has to offer. Made from local logs that from trees that were killed by beetles, this cabin boasts a wood fired stove (the only source of heat), composting toilet, and a holding tank that holds water from a spring located on the property and runs it into the house while it is occupied. There is one bedroom, a loft and a small kitchen that will run off of a generator and propane. Eventually they would like to install a solar panel that will supply electricity while the cabin is occupied as well.
While this cabin may not be the most efficient or comfortable building in the world, it is certainly a source of joy and pride for our family. My aunt and uncle hope to pass it on to my cousin and their new baby grandson someday. They hope that this building will continue to carry on the history on which it was founded.