A Cabin in the Mountains: Pioneering in the Rockies

A couple starts a new life in the Rocky Mountains, living outdoors while they build their dream cabin.

| June/July 1992


Though still lacking a door and a roof, the partially-completed cabin seemed like a luxury hotel to the McGoughs after living in a tent in the woods for the winter,


Have you ever thought of living in some remote place, far beyond the end of tire tracks? Maybe you've thought of a country where you could make your way to some high, rock-bound rim and look over a vast sweep of mountain ranges where tall, snow-capped peaks reach for blue sky. In your mind's eye, perhaps you saw long, grassy expanses appearing as emerald islands in a darker green sea of pine and spruce. And have you ever dreamed of peering into somedark, forbidding canyon, where a white-water stream plunges and splashes over granite boulders in a violent rush toward lower country? 

Mary and I thought about a country like that for over 30 years. Finally, there came a day when we pulled stakes, loaded our outfit on a string of pack horses, and headed up the mountain. At 8,000 feet, we pitched our tent. Working all through the winter, we built a cabin in the mountains. It became our home, summer and winter. 

If you've got the time to listen for a spell, then pull up a chair, and we'll share our adventure with you… 

Some years back on a bright day in early June, Mary and I rode our horses up a mountain to start a high-country venture that changed our lives forever. I recall the day in detail. The sun, bearing down between scattered clouds, promised grass-growing heat well before noon. Buttercups and lupine splashed the open slopes with yellow and blue. I remember those details, because they came at a time when we were phasing out an important era in our lives, and commencing another one. That day will stay with me forever.

Mary and I reined in our horses at a viewpoint along the rough mountain trail. The climb along the side of Gunshot Canyon was steep, and experience told us to go slow and rest often. When we turned in our saddles, we allowed our eyes to sweep over a good chunk of cow country, where foothills and meadows stretched out as a rolling carpet of lush, green grass. Far below us, we could make out a red and white cluster of buildings, the headquarters of the family-owned cattle ranch where we had worked for many years. We saw the pastures we had come to know by name, and the rooftops of the homes and barns which made up Deer Creek Place.

We reined our horses around and continued up the trail. I was reminded that the new life we were heading into would cause us to face a completely new set of challenges. Before the sun set that night, we would be camped on the privately owned, summer range of the ranch. In that primitive setting, we would live and work.

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