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Home > Magazine > Shelter > Building a Mountain Shack

Building a Mountain Shack
February 05, 2004

Mike is an oldtime pal who recently moved back to this mid-Michigan area. He was itching to tell me about a shack project he just finished. His first ever, he said. It was quite a story!

Mike was feeling cabin fever one year down in Denver where he lived with his wife and boy. So they ended up buying some land in the nearby mountains just as winter hit. He got the urge to build a Hut on it. He'd never built anything like this before. He didn't want to have to take out a permit or live there. He just wanted to build a shack. So he fabricated it in his backyard in town, piece by piece. Then on the weekends, he'd load it into the back of his little Toyota truck and drive up the hill and haul the sections a good hike into the land with a little sled then assemble what he had built, then drive back down. He did this all winter. You know: building in snowstorms, without electricity. What a thing to do! But he had to do it. When spring broke, they moved back to Michigan, with friend overseeing the Hutch. But he had a great time. He just built and built and designed as he thought best as he went. (He'd built a lot of well-stressed skateboard ramps in his day.) His little boy helped him out the whole time in town but mostly he went up the hills alone to do the final fabricating. A great way to scratch an itch. And get out of town to a purty place every weekend.

One angle that I recall when I saw all his project pics (a few culled here below) is that he cleverly built in a slide-out porch and slide-out deck under his little shack, to expand the usable area within the footprint of a tiny shed. He also has very nice and very big windows underneath the solid siding that can be revealed with a few toggles. Lastly, the siding he used came from his Great Uncle's old family place that had been partially dismantled for an addition.

I met Mike when he and my brother and I were Bus Punks at a great restaurant in town here after college. We were a smooth and fun team. I daresay we were fine bus-boys. I remember everyone in that restaurant being proud of their work, going for zero-defects, being respected by everyone else. We were serious purveyors of good food and good times for everyone who came in. I recall getting $50 tips a night totally optional tippage. It was the first restaurant in this area to have a winelist...and a sommelier...and everyone was trained about all the wine and food. Didn't last but was very cool when we were there. I recall the Manager seemed like the chief on Miami Vice---dark, glowering, didn't have to say a word. We Bus Punks have stayed in touch.

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