How I Moved to a Cabin in the Mountains
My Home in Happy Camp, California
Have You Ever Thought of Moving to the Mountains to Live in a Cabin?
If you have the desire to move to a cabin in the mountains, I urge you not to give up that dream. You can do it if your heart is in it! There are plenty of homes in the mountains waiting for people like you to inhabit them.
This page tells why I decided to move, when, what happened, where I went, and how it turned out. My move to the mountains was one of the best things I've ever done with my life.
I encourage you to try it if you've grown frustrated with inner city or suburban life.
The photograph shows the cabin/house/shack I lived in for thirteen years. Though it was small and humble, I loved living there surrounded by trees and the life-giving fresh air of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains.
Have You Ever "Been There, Done That?"
Have you ever lived in a cabin in the mountains?
Why I Decided to Move
My story started in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I lived in an East Bay town called Pittsburg. This is in the Contra Costa County "East County" area right between Antioch and Bay Point. We lived in a not-so-great part of town though it was far from being the worst. Across the street was City Park with baseball fields, a playground and a museum. Across from that was City Hall and the police department.
My children had a lot of scuffles with other children who lived in our neighborhood. I didn't think these were normal arguments. Some seemed to be racially motivated; there was a lot of hatred and one boy tried to molest my ten-year-old daughter. I decided we couldn't stay and prayed to be led to a better home, preferably in a very rural area where there would be space between us and our neighbors. I wanted room for my children to play. They were nine and ten at the time.
Where I Started From - Pittsburg, California
How I Moved to My Cabin in the Mountains
As a single mom with two children and two cats, I had a low income at the time (oh hey, I still do!) Living on a low income in an urban area with two kids isn't as easy as doing it in the mountains, so I had to cut corners to make the move happen. I rented a U-Haul and with the help of a friend got it all packed.. This was the biggest U-Haul available as I was moving out of a three-bedroom duplex. I hauled my little blue car on a trailer behind the U-Haul.
The two kids and I, along with two caged cats, set out to drive north. When we got to Redding I put everything in storage ($99/mo. for a 30x10 space, at that time. It is probably more now.)
We returned the U-Haul, got into our car, and set out in search of a home. We drove north to the vicinity of Mt. Shasta, and after a few weeks rented a hotel room in Dunsmuir for a month. While there, a landlady from a tiny mountain town called Happy Camp phoned me several times encouraging me to look at her house.
I'd never been to Happy Camp before, and after a few weeks of not finding anything we liked in Dunsmuir, I decided to take a look. The house was exactly what we needed. It looked like a cabin on the outside. Inside it was humble but had three bedrooms... large enough for all three of us. I rented it on January 11, 2000... and am so glad I did. The rent was affordable and the experience of living there was priceless.
Where I Lived Thirteen Years - Happy Camp, California
A View of Happy Camp From a Nearby Logging Road
My Experience Living in the Mountains
I lived in that cabin thirteen years, so I must have liked it.
Most of the people I met in Happy Camp were friendly and hospitable. They welcomed me into their community and seemed to genuinely be happy that I wanted to be part of their activities.
I encountered a few sour people who look down on anyone who came from the outside world, but they are few and far between and easy to avoid most of the time.
Of course, because it is a small town, you're going to see them. That's one of the things I love. Every time you go shopping or to the post office, you see people you know; people you have a history with.
Most of this is good, friendly, happy stuff. For example, one day I went to the post office and saw a couple I hadn't seen in months. I stopped to talk to them. Next I went to the store and chatted with my son (he was twenty, and working there at the time) and of course saw about 10 other people I knew there.
During 2002-2004 I served on the Board of Directors for the local Chamber of Commerce, and designed their original website. After that I backed out of local politics and left that organization. I liked to keep to myself most of the time. At home I had my writing and gardening to keep me busy.
My best friend, Judy, and I often said to each other that we wondered why some people got bored because we never had time to be bored. There's always something to do when you live in a small town. The community needs you, if nothing else.
Going out of town was a strange experience sometimes. New items showed up in stores in the larger communities - things I'd never seen or heard of before. I often had a sense of culture shock when I visited larger cities outside our river valley.
You see, the town I lived in is 70 miles away from the county seat. It's a two hour drive on a winding river road. I'd stay out there on the river for months at a time without making the trip to the outside world.
For the last five years I was there, I fantasized about moving to a town closer to the highway, with more population and more businesses, but from 2008 to 2012 there was no opportunity to move. It seemed like the river had a hold on me and also, I didn't know if I could get used to living "out there" again.
In 2013 I finally made my move - 700 miles north, to Northern Idaho, where I now live.
I miss Happy Camp terribly, but this was the right move to me. With any luck, in about five years I'll be able to return to the Klamath River Valley. Whether that will be permanently, or as a visitor, I haven't decided yet. But I know one thing for sure.... Happy Camp will always be my home.
Dear Mad'm - by Stella Walthal Patterson
Stella Walthal Patterson was a remarkable woman. At the age of eighty-two she decided to pack up and move to a tiny cabin on a mining claim about twelve miles downriver from Happy Camp, California.
In Happy Camp, I helped start an annual Dear Mad'm Day weekend. It is a three-day literary event to celebrate Stella Walthall Patterson's life and writing.
In the Land of the Grasshopper Song - by Mary Ellicott Arnold, Mabel Reed
I very much enjoyed reading this book! It is full of surprises and truth about early pioneer life.
This is the memoir of two young women who came to the Klamath River Valley in 1908 to help civilize Native Americans. Though I don't care for the idea that the natives needed "civilizing"... reading the memoir gives a lot of insight into the local Native American culture, and the process gone through to adjust to an influx of Euro-American settlers.
There's a chapter in the book about the two women visiting Happy Camp to stay in the American House Hotel, which is still there. A historic building.
Anyhow, this memoir and the one above it (Dear Mad'm) are the two best loved local books known by everyone in the town.
The American House Hotel, where the two women who wrote "In the Land of the Grasshopper Song" stayed in 1910. This building dates from the 1850s.
Where Would You Rather Live?
Would you rather live in the mountains or in a city?
Readers Who Said "In the Mountains"
If not on my very own deserted island, than in the mountains... 4 wheel drive accessible only. I've already bought the jeep. :) I live on the edge of a city now. And while it has its fun points (entertainment, wonderful huge festivals, etc) it has lost its luster. I'm ready to be back out in the country. - DawnRae64
My dream has always been to live in a cabin in the mountains! - anonymous
Southeast Oregon has called to me for years, but I don't think that's where my cabin will be. - lesliesinclair
In the mountains - anonymous
Mountains - anonymous
Mountains away from all the Evil in the city. I am a big-time outdoorsman. So take the city life and give it to All the druggies. - anonymous
Definitely like the mountains better!! I've experienced both city and mountain living. its peace to the soul - anonymous
My only concern would be driving in the mountains - don't want scary drives - DrLibby
I'm trying to arrange parttime living in the mountains of Portugal. But I think I'm a parttime mountain dweller, I like living in my close-to-the-beach-and-places-to-dance-Cuban-salsa city very much also! - Klaartje Loose
The mountains indeed. I love the peace and serenity and the people are friendlier. Born and raised in so calif but I will not die here. A few more years and I will retire awayyyyy. Give me the mts, clean air, and rivers/creeks anytime. - anonymous
This is a no brainer...the peaceful sounds of the mountains/woods against the noise of the city. - mic604
Most definitely the mountains any day! - Heidi Vincent
Mountains in a rural community within driving distance to the beach in a warmer climate for sure. Can't take the cold weather anymore. - Kailua-KonaGirl
I'm okay with living in the mountains, as long as I can migrate to the beach when it gets cold. - Sara Krentz
Definitely choose mountains, natural views and positive energy any day over city life and pollution! - TeresaM LM
I will definitely take the mountains over the city but my real preference is the seclusion of an island camp. - DebMartin
I live in the foothills of the Cascade mountains in Washington state in the log cabin built by my father. I've been here all of my life. I like having space. Unfortunately, there are people closer than I like and the city peeps seem to be trying to move the city out here in great blocks of housing developments. ("Let's move to the country!....And take the city with us!...Then when the country is gone, we'll move further out!") There are a thousand houses within a mile or so more than there was when I was brought here as a newborn. - RowanChisholm
I've lived most of my life in or near a city, but don't think it is the optimal situation for humans. Unfortunately because of the overpopulation of our species, there is not enough space left for everyone to live in a small town or rural area. - PNWtravels
Well there are no mountains in my country, but I live in a rural area far from the big cities. I've lived in cities, but it's not my style of life, too crowded and too noisy. Even here, while there's enough space between us, I would've liked my neighbours to be further away. - Titia
I've lived in the mountains on a 510 acre ranch, over an hour's drive to a little small town. I live in the mountains now, only in a city in the mountains this time. - Aunt-Mollie
I would like to visit the city occasionally but would prefer to live in the peace and tranquility of the mountains. - webmavern
I had a dream to live in a small town called Crestone, CO when I was in my 50s. Didn't do it and now I'm older and need to live closer to medical help or a hospital and they are an hour away from Crestone. So my advice do not wait too long! Do it while you are healthy! - RinchenChodron
I would like to live 6 months a year in both. I need the life and opportunities of the city and the glorious experiences of nature and all of it's surprises (good and bad). - Teapixie LM
I grew up in the mountains and now live in the city. Would love to be able to go back. Too much noise here in the city. - Monica Ranstrom
I've never lived in a city and wouldn't want to. - dustytoes
I've lived most of my life in rural Devon, England. Spent two years in Cardiff, Wales and couldn't wait to get back. - LizMac60
I live in the Bay area myself and very much look forward to living in the mountains as soon as it is reasonable to do so. - anonymous
I have lived in the mountains in the past. Mostly near a tourist town but never out in the forest. It would be a dream come true! - skhdesigns lm
I moved with my partner from a bustling city in the UK, to the rural hills of Andalucia, Spain. Sometimes we go for days without seeing people, and we have no mains services. Our electricity comes from the sun, its great! - al-parks
Without a doubt, mountains...or at least a small community. Then again, we are from Wyoming, the least populated state in the US, so everything is essentially a small community. - melmik
I lived in the mountains as a teen, and I'd definitely love to live there again. The mountains just feel like home. - goldenecho
I cannot leaving in mountains now, I did it many years ago... and I loved that experience - Michey LM
No contest. I love living out back of beyond in a cabin with mountains in my backyard. - Diana Wenzel
I would love to be away from it all. Living in a place where I can get to know people and to feel like part of a community would be wonderful. - anonymous
I think the same way, that's my dream too. as Jone does (in the earlier comments) - anonymous
On a farm with mountains, streams, and a river. - zeff789
Mountains! We had a llama ranch on the Mount Ashland Road for almost 10 years, looking out in your general direction. Now we live in a valley next to the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado. In between, we did try a very nice city -- Olympia, WA -- but give me mountains! - hartworks lm
Mountains 4 sure, dying to go - anonymous
Definitely would rather live in the mountains!!!! - anonymous
My dream is to live in the mountains. Somewhere near a natural spring for unlimited water (that's clean of course). I want to grow my own garden eat my own food, fish and eat fish occassionally. Go into a city once a month to buy groceries and other things. Maybe work 5 - 10 hours a week for a few dollars. have a simple car or truck to get from point a to point b. go on hikes every day. meditate. lay out in the sun. swim in a cool creek or river. practice and play an instrument. just have a small house/cabin that's stable and not expensive to maintain and doesn't need constant fixing. i want to sleep inside with the windows open so I can have a cool breeze coming through, and hear the sounds of animals out in the wilderness, instead of people screaming, cars speeding or neighbors stomping/banging on my apartment walls. this is my dream and I'm 26. i want to make it happen soon. The city life and IT career is consuming me. I consider myself in a state of conscious insanity, knowing I'm doing the same thing and expecting different results, but slowly it gets worse and worse, and I just take it and stick stay in like a frog being boiled as the temperature of the water it's on slowly rises. I don't hate people, I just feel like I need to live a lone for most of my life. I haven't dated or gone out in 10 years ,but I have a passion inside me that I'm eager to live out and am tired of pretending to be something I'm not. - anonymous
In the mountains for sure! - ItayaLightbourne
Mountains but relatively near a city ;) - VisFeminea
I have tried to live in the mountains however loved ones wouldn't see it my way. Now I am older, kids grown up, change of people in personal life, I am looking to try it. I wonder if I have gotten spoiled living in the flatlands. I don't think so since I have always felt that Rocky Mtn High. I like an area thats kept hush - Chama, NM Happy Camp looks good too! - HERBMASTER
Am looking forward to the day we live in a cabin in the woods. I much prefer the silence. - squidoopets
Rocky Mountain High, here i belong... - anonymous
I'll take the mountains any day! - WriterJanis2
Hell yes i want to move out in the mountains and quit my life I live today. Living side by side with the animals - anonymous
I love the city life, but the mountains are far more beautiful! - Snakesmom
Definitely mountains - anonymous
Absolutely hands down, in the mountains. - sheriangell
Your town sounds wonderful! I have said for most of my life that I need to find Mayberry I don't like too many people around me. And I love the mountains. we live in a valley surrounded on all four sides by mountains. - kimmie1967
Our place is in the forest! - JJNW
I live in a huge city, and would trade anytime for a quite time in the mountains - FanfrelucheHubs
I've been wanting to live in the mountains - or at least RIGHT near them - my whole life!!!! - Lisa-Marie-Mary
In the mountains... no contest! What could be better? - indigoj
Definitely in the mountains! That's why I'm here! Sometimes I'd like to move to a slightly larger town, but it won't be a big city. - Linda BookLady
Always dreamed of a log cabin in the woods. Now at 54, widowed, children grown, I am ready!!!!! Researching how. Any help greatly appreaciated. - Patty
Readers Who Said "In the City"
Always dreamed of a log cabin in the woods. Now at 54, widowed, children grown, I am ready!!!!! Researching how. Any help greatly appreaciated. - Patty
I like SF Bay Area weather ... definitely, it is nice there. I totally miss the Bay Area because I was born and raised there! - Linda BookLady
At one time, I would have loved nothing more than to pack up and go live in the Sierra Nevadas. We used to go camping all the time and I love being out in nature. But, I find as I've hit middle age, that I'm happier in suburbia especially with my disability. And, you really can't beat San Francisco Bay Area weather :) - MelRootsNWrites
I have decided I am a city girl. I love the quiet and beauty of the woods, but as I have grown older I cannot imagine not living near a Costco or a theatre. - Mickie Gee
Actually, I find merit in both. Have always wanted two houses, one far away in the mountains and then a city apartment also. I love both the country and city. - waynekat
I'd prefer to live in a city but to have lots of opportunity to visit and stay in mountains and countryside. I'd miss all the neccessities if I lived in the mountains. - Jogalog
I've lived in the mountains...but it's difficult to be secluded from all the necessities of life. I couldn't go back to that. - ohcaroline
About the Woman Who Wrote This "Cabin in the Mountains" Page
In 2013, thirteen years after moving to the Klamath River Valley, I moved north to Post Falls, Idaho, which is between Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.
It was a huge change for me - the first time I'd ever lived outside California - but something I sorely needed to do, to reboot my life.
I Wrote This Book for My Mountain Town of Happy Camp
While living in Happy Camp, I wrote this book for the children of that town. I wanted them to have a novel to read with a story they could identify with. The novel is for ages 8 to 15 (girl main character) but most of the reviews I see online are written by adults who enjoyed reading the book.
It starts when Claire, a nine-year-old girl-child, is informed by her father that she must move from her cozy home in the San Francisco Bay Area, to a little town she's never heard of before, Happy Camp, on the Klamath River in the Northern California wilderness.
During the course of the book Claire grows up and becomes a mature and well-loved teenager.