The Timber-Framed Cabin Project Continued (Part 15 - 2014)

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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 2014. 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:

Quick Fishing Trip with Robert.

At the end of June I finished a draft of my book and went fishing with my friend Robert on one of our mostly annual trips. This year for budgetary reasons (and the wealth of good fishing opportunities) we were back here in the Sierra Madres. Our favorite day was on Battle Creek fishing for Colorado River Cutthroat (the only genuinely native trout close by here) in the headwaters of that system. This very pretty fish was soon released.

Burying the Water Tank

Soon Jenny and I were back up to "celebrate" her recent unemployment, or rather to get it off our minds. We spent some of the time digging a large hole for the tank to go in. As usual the digging bar was essential as we had to break up one rock that was 3 feet long.

The idea is partly to get it below the frostline and also partly to build a torsion box that will create a space at the front of the tank to hold the valves and such. In principle these will not freeze and I can get at them through an insulated door in the lid. But the torsionbox itself must be both strong and insulated and insulation must extend beyond it some too. Maybe then we'll have utility water under pressure in winter. We'll see!

It Was A Good Year For Mushrooms

It was a pretty moist year so that from the end of July to the beginning of October we had mushrooms including:


chanterelles &

hedgehog jushrooms.

Bear Trouble

I headed up to the cabin one more time at the beginning of August to deliver some radio tower sections that I want to use to mount the solar panels higher up so that the sun reaches them better through the tall trees. On the way I saw a young fox going over the Snowies.

Upon my arrival at the cabin in the dark, I stumbled over our coleman lantern which was broken on the porch. It had been hanging from a beam on the porch. The toilet bucket had been swept from the porch and something had overturned the propane tank after pulling it from its holder. My hypothesis was a bear had mistaken the lamp for a humingbird feeder and the propane for I don't know what.

In the morning I got some confirmation in a chewed up bleach bottle. And a few days later I saw the bear run away in the mid afternoon leaving some bear scat.

Towering Accomplishments

Another project I did quite a bit of work on this past summer was erecting a radio tower on which to mount the solar panels and upgrading the combiner box as part of that project. Much of the work for that was done ahead of time at home, where I made various parts, including a hinged base on which to mount the tower so that it could tilt up and down. The idea would be to make working on it easier as it would be on the ground. The next several photos show work on the base.

Having done what I could in that one trip, I left things there until the next one.

Towering Accomplishments Part II

Over Labor Day Weekend, Jenny came back up with me and we did some more serious work on the tower project.

First the tree that had held the panels had to come down to make room for the tower.

More Tall Tales of Towers and TP

I won two tickets to see this:

and I was glad I did.

From there I went up for an early October trip to get the last few details on the tower straight before winter. There was some snow the first night, but it melted soon enough to allow me to finish the work. The plan involved lowering the tower, moving the panel that was already on it higher, adding the largest panel where that one had been and putting a very small 10 watt panel on top so that there would be some conduction when there was any sun near the top even if only in a small area. That's needed because even partly shaded panels don't conduct.

Unfortunately, the guy wire slipped out of the loop in the gin pole (the pole that is at 90 degrees to the tower that give leverage for cranking it up) and the tower crashed to the ground from several feet up. How it did that was a mystery - the eyelet shows no gap, but it must have bent open and the cable must have flattened to fit through. I thought that was the end of the whole project. As it turned out only one bracket on the large panel was bent and I figure out a way to keep the cable from slipping out again. But I was pretty nervous cranking it up the second time. And I now have plans for some improvements to the cranking apparatus. They'll have to wait as I'm not cranking it down again.

All is well that ends well.

Thanksgiving in the Snow

So after I was away from the cabin and tower for a while I got insecure about the turnbuckles on the tower, worrying that the downward pressure of the snow in winter might disconnect them from the support cables of the tower. Of course I was far away and having to finish my book. So by the time I had a chance to go up and deal with it, we were into the week of Thanksgiving. Jenny and I drove out to Laramie, where she stayed while I skied up to the cabin with some heavy-duty closed-end turnbuckles to replace the originals which were by then under about 30 inches of snow. Unfortunately, the snow down below was not too deep and what there was had a crust of thick ice. This necessitated walking up carrying my skis for the first two and a half miles or so. The next two miles were OK on the skis, though work, and the last mile and a half downhill were hellish as the ice gave me no control on the steep downhill road to the cabin. I fell several time, hit my knee hard enough to cause it to balloon up to twice normal size by the next day, and finally figured out I had to walk downhill sideways to reach the cabin by nightfall.

The next day was Thanksgiving and the weather was relatively promising for getting the work done. By afternoon it was in the low thirties and I most of the work was done. The photos below show both the old and the new turnbuckles. Most of the actual work was shoveling down to the anchors to which the turnbuckles were attached.

After all of that was completed, and after putting the cabin back in relative order, I attached skins to the bottom of my skis and embarked on the climb up to the road. It took about an hour and a half to gain the 500 or so feet in elevation and cover the mile and a half to the road with the skins on the bottom of the skis. Lucky for me the icy crust was covered with a bit of show or frost hoar, I'm not sure which. This meant I had more traction going up and the skins did what they needed to do. Even so, by the time I reached the main road (closed and a snowmobile trail but a road in the summer) the duct tape holding the skins to my skis was pretty beat up and starting to come off. I removed the skins and was lucky that some snow mobile tracks had broken much of the icy crust giving me some control to ski the remaining 4 miles to the car. I got there a bit before dark, and then drove two hours to meet Jenny for a lox and bagels Thanksgiving meal in our room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Laramie.

To be honest, the trip down to the cabin when I could not figure out how to control the skis on ice was as worried as I've been up there. The basic problem was that If I took off the skis I immediately broke through the icy crust and was up to my crotch in snow. That was not a way to make any forward progress towards the cabin. On the skis I kept gathering speed until I had to fall to stop, each time risking injury and expending a lot of energy to get up and start again. Since wouldn't be the first to come to harm in wintry conditions, the issue was not entirely theoretical. It was worrisome enough to consider using my Spot satellite beacon, though in the end I figured it out and did not need to use it. But the experience made me very thankful to be back at the hotel and eating lox for Thanksgiving.

Negative 17 Degrees Fahrenheit is Very Cold

It is also the temperature at the cabin according the National Weather Service at 9:30 PM mountain time on December 30th. That's negative 27 degrees Celsius. The snow monitor shows around four feet of snow on the ground.

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