A Homestead East of Mount Hood

Establishing a homestead on the east side of Mount Hood required a lot of planning and a massive effort gathering materials, but was ultimately worth it.

| September/October 1980

A few years ago—when my wife Sande and I lived in the lush forests of northwestern Oregon—some friends invited us to visit the 80 acres they'd just purchased on the eastern side of Mt. Hood ... and we discovered that the difference in climate, even though their land was just 60 miles away from our home, was nothing short of remarkable! On the western slope of the magnificent mountain, you see, there are regular rains at least seven months out of the year ... while, on the eastern side, the weather is generally sunny and dry.

As time rolled by, we became progressively more tired of our area's wet weather and its attendant mud, mold, slugs, and rust ... and we made quite a few trips over the mountain to "dry out." Rain would be pouring down—as usual—when we left home, but as soon as we crossed the summit from west to east, we would drive into glorious sunshine.

Decision Time

Besides being disgusted with the incessant dampness, we were also disturbed that our once quiet road had turned into a highway and new houses were appearing at—to us—an alarming rate. On top of that, the property values in our area had more than doubled in the four years we'd lived there, and the taxes had, of course, kept pace.

So it's not surprising that, in the late summer of 1978, we searched out (and fell in love with) a 108-acre site on the sunny side of the mountain. At an elevation of 2,600 feet and situated about 13 miles from the nearest town, the property offered fantastic views of three peaks and of miles of untarnished countryside. Our Oregon homestead-to-be also featured two seasonal creeks ... plenty of pine, fir, and oak trees ... the remains of several log cabins . . . and quite a few acres that had been cleared many years earlier.

We had enough equity in our "wetlands" house to make a down payment on the land and to buy most of the equipment and materials we would need to get started. Nevertheless, actually making the purchase required some tough decisions: It would mean abandoning our 2,000-square-foot home, my workshop, and our stained glass studio (plus selling or storing our collection of antiques) in exchange for an uncertain future in the wilderness.

Of course, we eventually decided to make the change. We bought the land on a 15-year contract, set July 1, 1979 as the target date for our move, and started on a course of action that would pay big dividends later: shopping and scrounging for materials and equipment that we knew we'd need in the future.

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