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How I Moved to a Cabin in the Mountains

Updated on February 13, 2017

My Home in Happy Camp, California

This is the cabin I lived in for 13 years.
This is the cabin I lived in for 13 years. | Source

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?

See results

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

Happy Camp is a very small town in the center of the Klamath National Forest. This view of Happy Camp is from a logging road off Benjamin Creek Road.
Happy Camp is a very small town in the center of the Klamath National Forest. This view of Happy Camp is from a logging road off Benjamin Creek Road. | Source

My Experience Living in the Mountains

My cabin in the mountains
My cabin 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. Att 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.

Trees in the Klamath National Forest.
Trees in the Klamath National Forest. | Source

Dear Mad'm - by Stella Walthal Patterson

Dear Mad'm (Women of the West)
Dear Mad'm (Women of the West)

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 twenty-five 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

In the Land of the Grasshopper Song: Two Women in the Klamath River Indian Country in 1908-09
In the Land of the Grasshopper Song: Two Women in the Klamath River Indian Country in 1908-09

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.

 

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

City

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    • Patty 22 months ago

      Always dreamed of a log cabin in the woods. Now at 54 , widowed, children grown , I am ready!!!!! Researching how. Any help greatly appreaciated.

    • Linda Jo Martin 2 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I like SF Bay Area weather ... definitely, it is nice there. I totally miss the Bay Area because I was born and raised there!

    • Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      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 :)

    • Mickie Goad 4 years ago

      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.

    • waynekat 4 years ago

      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.

    • Jogalog 4 years ago

      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 liked in the mountains.

    • ohcaroline 6 years ago

      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.

    The Klamath River
    The Klamath River | Source

    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

    River Girl
    River Girl

    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.

     

    Part One - Video Series I Made for the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce in 2011

    Part Two - The Art Center in Happy Camp

    Part Three - Native American Bryan Colegrove

    Part Four - Art and Treasure Weekend

    Your Feedback on Moving to a Mountain Cabin

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      • MelRootsNWrites profile image

        Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

        It's so funny you mention Gasquet of all places. My Mom's cousin lives there right on the Smith River. I've never been there though, so that's not my connection. Still, I might have noticed Gasquet and Happy Camp on a map.

      • Linda BookLady profile image
        Author

        Linda Jo Martin 2 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

        I can't blame you for wanting to be closer to civilization if you have health issues. That was one reason I was ready to leave - I wanted to live closer to medical services. Of course we had a nice clinic in Happy Camp - the Karuk Tribe's Health Services - but for anything major it was a long way to a specialist or hospital.

        Gasquet isn't far from Happy Camp - but there's no good road heading that direction. The best way to get there would be to go north on Grayback Road (summer only) and then west on Highway 199 in Oregon. I'll bet it looks very similar to Happy Camp - the forest, anyway.

      • MelRootsNWrites profile image

        Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

        I have a cousin who moved up to Gasquet and lives that life (though it's a house on the river, not a cabin). I don't think I could do it now. I have health issues and I think it would bother me being so out of the way. I wouldn't mind being out in nature and less people, but I like being with my extended family too.

        Thanks for sharing this! I feel like I've in or through Happy Camp before. We used to camp up north when I was younger. Can't for the life of me find any lakes close by that we would have camped at.

      • Lynn Klobuchar profile image

        Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

        Sounds like it was an inspired move for you.

      • DawnRae64 profile image

        Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

        Thank you for sharing. I daydream about mountain/cabin living all the time I enjoyed reading about your adventures.

      • lesliesinclair profile image

        lesliesinclair 3 years ago

        I'm seriously considering this very thing, though not so certain about the off-the-grid place I found. I'll read your Happy Camp lens now.

      • DrLibby profile image

        DrLibby 3 years ago

        congrats to you for forging a life you wanted. reading your post makes me want to look for my cabin in the woods

      • movingadvice profile image

        David Johnson 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

        Great lens! I lived in a solar-powered cabin off-grid for 9 months in Valle, AZ right outside of the Grand Canyon. It was definitely an experience I don't regret and I learned a lot of important life skills like cutting wood and starting fires. I recommend that everyone journey outside of their comfort zones and reconnect with nature.

      • profile image

        WinWriter 4 years ago

        I really enjoyed hearing about your adventures. Very inspiring to get away from it all :)

      • ValerieJoy profile image

        Valerie Smith 4 years ago from New Zealand

        I love your lens. I've lived in the city all of my life but mountain living is very appealing. It is very likely that the nearest I will get to mountain living is your lens. I'm bound to return often :)

      • Mickie Gee profile image

        Mickie Goad 4 years ago

        I love reading about the members of the Squidoo community. Thanks for sharing your experience finding your cabin in the mountains.

      • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

        June Parker 4 years ago from New York

        Enjoyed reading. I lived in a cabin in the mountains in Colorado for a year once. It was awesome even though the winters were harsh. Quite an experience as I had just moved from my homeland of Hawaii.

      • profile image

        Ruthi 4 years ago

        What an adventurer you truly are, LindJaM! And a Happy Camp-er too! What an experience for you and your kids to have run away to live in a cabin in the woods. I am not sure I could do it. While I do not care for big city life I also do not care for extreme cold weather or driving in winter weather conditions. Besides, I've grown old and into being a baby about surviving without a lot of amenities closer to home.

      • profile image

        TheGardenGuys 4 years ago

        Great lens. Really interesting.

      • Faye Rutledge profile image

        Faye Rutledge 4 years ago from Concord VA

        I live in the woods, but not in a cabin....in a small town in VA. Things move a lot slower in small towns. I've ordered your book for my kindle. I enjoy reading books written by fellow Squidoo members. :)

      • Linda BookLady profile image
        Author

        Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

        @DebMartin: Thanks, Deb!

      • Linda BookLady profile image
        Author

        Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

        @verymary: I know what you mean. Right now it looks like I'll be working until I'm seventy, at least.

      • verymary profile image

        Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

        We just rent cabins in the mountains for a week at a time, in N.C. Have to admit I have fantasized about this as a retirement option .... if my generation ever DOES get to retire!

      • Linda BookLady profile image
        Author

        Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

        @TeresaM LM: Yes, I've had a few bear encounters. I've seen one outside the kitchen window late at night. Also a few times while out hiking on the highway I've had bears cross the road in front of me. That's always a little scary. I've never seen wolves here but I've seen a mountain lion on my front porch.... actually, I just saw the back of it because when I turned on the light it ran off the porch, and that's when I opened the door.

      • TeresaM LM profile image

        TeresaM LM 4 years ago

        This is a very inspirational lens, I've always wanted to live out in the open away from city life. Have you ever encountered any bears or wolves where you are? Very beautiful photos too, thanks for sharing.

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