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October 2, 2005
... a long Winter's nap


September 25 would be Steve's last trip to the mountain for the season.  His work and extra-curricular activities would leave him with no free weekends for the next several months.  But he wanted to leave with a "bang."  So in addition to working with Russell to finish the roof, he helped with on last task before he departed.

In order to prepare the half-constructed house for the coming rains, we had three major tasks:

  1. Make the roof watertight
  2. Make the house watertight
  3. Move everything under cover or into the house

Over the past month, Steve, Russell, and Gail had accomplished task #1: the roof was now completed and watertight.  We left the rope stretched across the diameter of the roof and the safety lines tied to it; we will need to access the roof again next year.

Task #2 would be more elaborate and require an additional weekend of work.

On that last September Sunday morning before he departed, Steve helped Russell accomplish task #3.   We had several huge pallet-loads of lumber sitting around the building site.  This would be used in the interior of the house for building walls, so we could not leave it out in the rain for the winter.  We had pondered whether we could use a crane or tractor to move the piles en masse into the house; but with the roof and walls now in place, there was no way to do it.

All of the lumber would have to be moved by hand, piece by piece.  So Steve and Russell began their workday once more at the crack of dawn.  Russell had not been looking forward to doing this task single-handed, but with two people it went much faster.  It took four hours and some rearranging, but we successfully moved all of the lumber into the house.  With this task accomplished, Steve bid farewell to the mountain until next year.

Some of the lumber piles that had to be moved into the house

It would take another weekend trip from Russell, Gail, Cameron, and Joss to accomplish task 2: making the entire house watertight.  With the roof covered, we wouldn't have to worry about rain falling vertically into the house.  However, our mountain-top at 2,700 feet can experience winds of more than 100 mph, making the rain fall almost sideways.  On the lower story we had installed walls but no windows; on the upper story we had installed nothing at all.

Our plan was to wrap the sides of the house in plastic.  In fact, a month ago Gail had stapled pieces of plastic around the perimeter of the lower story, but these had been destroyed by wind in a matter of weeks.  We would need to use one long continuous piece of plastic, and secure it in place with boards as well as staples.

On October 1-2, we made one more trip to the mountain to do just that.  Using a long roll of opaque white 6-mil plastic sheeting (doubled over), we spent Saturday morning wrapping the lower story of the house in plastic.  It took all four of us to work with the plastic but it worked beautifully.

Gail and Joss nail wooden strips along the tops and bottoms of the walls to hold the plastic sheeting in place

The lower story of the house, wrapped in plastic

The upper story was a bit more improvised.  Originally, we thought of wrapping the upper story perimeter with a continuous sheet of plastic as well.  But as we looked at the site, we decided that there was nowhere to fasten the plastic to create a watertight seal (not only was the upper story cantilevered, but we had not yet installed any of the walls).  Instead, we decided to cover the entire floor with plastic, and weigh it down with heavy pieces of wood composite (future decking material) to keep it in place.

The upper story of the house, covered in plastic

This task took the rest of the day on Saturday.  In addition, Gail fashioned a plastic sheet door to cover the stairway access, so that we could open or close the access as desired.

Gail fashioned a removable stairway cover that could be slid aside to allow access upstairs

The result was a lower story that was wind and rain proof, but would still retain heat so that we could continue to camp inside the house.  Although the white opaque plastic kept the space brightly lit, we could no longer see outside.  So for the three lower-story windows, Gail installed clear plastic.  She even rigged a clear plastic front door that could be propped open or swung closed.

The house is now ready for the coming rains.  We will continue to visit the mountain throughout the Winter to make sure that it is secure, but we don't plan to do any further work until Spring next year.  In the meantime, we will take a bit of a break to resume our normal lives, if only for a while...

The current state of our mountain house: roofed and wrapped in plastic


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