The Timber-Framed Cabin Project Continued (Part 14 - 2013)

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Credit: USFS, Kassidy Kern from

This page continues the story of the construction of a timberframe cabin in the Sierra Madre Mountains along with subsequent cabin adventures. This particular page covers 2013. You can access the previous pages through the index of my timberframe cabin pages at and through the links on the sidebar. I last worked on this particular page at the following date and time:

An Aborted December 2012 Trip.

In December 2012 I met Alfred at his cabin on skis and snowshoes and stayed there for two nights. There was heavy snow all through the trip. I tried to go down to our place but turned back above the gate as the snow was up to my waist even in snowshoes. It seemed I would not soon make it back out if I went down the rest of the way. In hindsight that appears to have been the best decision I made in 2012. Blizzard conditions prevailed for the whole time on the mountain and we even saw some small avelanche remnants above the road on the way out. The lead photo in this section is from the drive back. You can see the storm clouds over the Sierra Madre Range.

First Visit.

I did get up there for a quick trip in late June 2013 and all was fine with the cabin. The batteries were fully charged and the chimney was fine as one would expect after a relatively mild winter. The photo above is of the yard hydrant we installed the previous season as a first step in getting running hot water. The task from here is to get a small propane water heater to attach to the hydrant leading to the hot water tap. There is another frost hydrant outside for a utility water source. Both are connected to the tank up the hill.

Fire Not Far Away! (July 23rd 2013)

Photo credit: USFS site at:

Map From:

Apparently there is a fire a few miles over the pass and on the other side of the highway. Here's hoping they can control it. At least the road and the pass itself will provide some buffering. They've dubbed it the West Battle Creek Fire. They say it is about 93 acres large in standing dead beetle killed forest two miles west of the Huston Park Wilderness Area a mile south of Battle Highway. I'm thinking that puts it almost ten miles away as the crow flies. (Our place is just past the right hand side of the map above.) The link above takes you to the National Fire Information Incident System page for this fire, which should update daily.

Not good!

UPDATE July 24 10:30 am: The fire seems to have grown only slightly to 103 acres yesterday, with no further growth overnight last night. They say it is 5% contained and that they are working on establishing fire lines to the North of the fire. There is some liklihood of thunderstorms which bring with them hope for rain and fear of winds.

UPDATE July 25 12:30 pm: There was in fact some rain last night, 1/10 of an inch on the fire. It did not grow significantly overnight so it is still at 103 acres. They say it is 10% contained, but they seem not to be all that worried since they've released at least one helicopter and some crew members to go elsewhere according to the update a couple of hours ago at the above linked incident site. There is likely to be some more rain today, but you never know. So far so good!

UPDATE July 25 11:30 pm: The fire is now reported to be 45% contained with no growth in area, and there seems to have been more rain in the area this afternoon. Another helicopter was released from the site, so my guess is that they think they've got the jump on this fire with weather conditions forecasted to be wet in the next few days.

UPDATE July 27 before next FS update: They announced last night that they're at 80% containment and once again drawing down the number of people working on the fire. Rains seem to have helped.

UPDATE July 28: The fire is still at 103 acres. They now call it 90% contained and have only 35 people working on it. They say potential for growth is low and that it is smoldering.

UPDATE late July 29: The fire is now 100% contained. They say rain Sunday and Monday helped out.

Mushroom Pictures for Chris

My friend Chris wanted more mushroom pictures. The next two were taken on a late Summer trip. The first is of a few King Boletes or Porcini mushrooms as some call them. The second is also of a bolete, but I can't figure out the variety. Any thoughts?

And this is a photo of some on a later trip in early Fall. It was taken with my phone camera so pardon the blur. The orange ones are obviously chantrelles as confirmed by eating them in a nice sauce. The white one looks like an oyster mushroom to me but as I'm no expert I did not try to eat it. Any thoughts?

Floods Cause Detours

In late Summer/early Fall I decided to take the train to Denver, rent a car in Denver and go up to the cabin. Since the train leaves Lincoln around midnight I could sleep on the train and wake up early in the morning in Denver to proceed on my trip. Unfortunately this was the weekend of the large floods on the Big Thompson River as well as the South Platte and various other tributories of the Platte. Highway 25 going North was closed by flooding and the smaller highways to the East had bridges out or roads covered. I had to drive East, back to Nebraska, before I could head north. Here are some photos of Downtown Denver where a creek enters the South Platte. The flooding was much worse at other locations, but you can see the high brown water in these photos.

Snow in October

I drove out in mid-October and met my neighbor Alfred at his cabin though I stayed overnight in my own. There was about a 18 inches to two feet of snow on the ground so I was not able to do very much besides the last few things that needed to be done prior to winter. One of these task was to turn the utility water supply up the hill off at the tank.

Still it was good to see Alfred up there and we made tentative plans to meet up there again before Christmas.

Right now I have few good photos of the trip handy, except for this one of an elk head that was lying in the snow near where I parked the car. I gather it was still hunting season.

A December Trip

I drove up to the cabin on around the 15th of December. Alfred was already up there and I stayed with him one night before spending two in my own cabin. By this time the road up had closed so I skied the 4 1/4 mile to Alfred's. Then I used snowshoes (that I carried up on my pack) to go the rest of the way down to my place. There was approximately three feet of snow on the ground so the snowshoes were defintely needed. I took some photos of the way down from Alfred's and also of a new cabin that has been brought in to a neighbor's place. The roof looks shallow, so I hope they have braced it against the snow load or will come in to clear it off once or twice this winter.

And the cabin looked just fine when I got to it:

Aside from the purpose of meeting up with Alfred, I also wanted to see where the sun and shadows were at the approximate solstice. I was about a week early, but I got a pretty good idea that my solar panels get very little sun at this time of year. I plan to put up a tower next year to raise the panels so I took photos to help me figure out where to position the tower. I get the sense that I'll also have to trim a few clumps of trees to extend the time the panels get light. The basic problem is that I am on the North side of a mountain with tall trees all around. Since I like the trees I want to do minimal cutting. As it turns out there are clumps of fir trees that are too close together and not all that healthy that I might be able to cut down and expose the panels better.

Here are few photos of the panels in sun:

I used one of the days in the cabin as an opportunity to work on some of the cabin trim. It was by now several years before that I ripped some stock to shape for trimming the joint where the roof meets the boards that go between the rafters. I calked them the year the cabin was constructed to keep mice and such out, but never got around to actually making them look good. The photos below show before and after shots of both that trim, and trim around the window in the gable end of the front. You can see where the light gets past the joint and the calk on the before photo. When I finished it ocurred to me that I would now be unashamed to show the cabin to my dad. Of course he isn't around anymore but it made me laugh that at some level I had been thinking the place was not up to his standards of neatness.

I also took some photos out the window looking towards the next ridge as the sun was coming up over my mountain:

That evening I used the oil lamp I had installed on a previous trip. You can see the Disston D7 saw from the thirties that I used to crosscut much of the wood (including the newly installed trim) hanging on the wall behind it. Darrell wrote his name on the handle in 1937 or at least that is what it says.

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