When you climb a mountain – particularly one at the extraordinary elevation of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado – it’s never easy. Even the easiest routes aren’t easy, especially when you are climbing the mountain to an RV life.
So how do you get to that remote cabin that sounds so amazingly quaint? That one located at 11,481 feet above sea level? The one that requires you to trudge 6.5 miles uphill through snow to get there?
You simply put one foot in front of the other, taking it one step at a time, pacing yourself.
At least, that’s what my wife, April, and I, and our small group of friends did to get to the Section House at the top of Boreas Pass just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado.
The Section House
The Section House is a cabin that was originally built in 1882 to house railroad workers and their families that maintained the rail line that traveled over Boreas Pass at the height of the mining era. It is now a wintertime backcountry getaway for snow junkies like us, who want to hike into the middle of nowhere to use it as our home base for ascending the surrounding peaks, only to schuss down them. No lift lines here… no ski lifts either! (Click here to read a related story about this historic cabin.)
When it comes to snowsports, it’s not the easiest of ways to enjoy the fluffy white precipitation that falls from the sky, but it’s a lifestyle that we have long embraced, and it is probably reflective of the personality traits that led us to opting into a full-time RV lifestyle and choosing an older rig that we could modify into something more akin to our style.
Now, nearly 150 years later, the Section House should be a shambles, crumbling to the ground. But in the spirit of the hardy men and women that forged rough lives there a century ago, the fine folks at the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado Historic Society, with a friendly shove from the outdoorsmen that embody the pioneer spirit, restored the Section House in the mid-1990s.
It is now one of several such cabins that make up the Summit Huts Association and the 10th Mountain Division Huts Association. These cabins are furnished with cooking utensils, propane and wood-burning stoves, simple beds, and composting toilets, but everything else is supplied by those of us using the facilities. When you stay at one of these “huts,” you have to pack in (and out) your own food, beverages, clothes, sleeping bag, and anything else that you might need.
Climbing the Mountain to an RV Life
With our desire for such “vacation adventures,” you can see how April and I might have chosen our 2003 BT Cruiser, RAIF. Much like Section House, RAIF is probably considered by most to be at the end of or beyond his usefulness. But much like the hardy folks that determined there was still a lot of life to be lived at Section House, we determined that RAIF had a lot of living left to do.
A hut trip doesn’t exactly fall within the spectrum of most people’s ideas of a luxurious vacation, but then again, RV living doesn’t exactly invoke the idea of luxury to the Average Joe either. To most folks, when you say you’re moving into an RV – particularly on a full-time basis – they start asking if you’re okay, thinking this is likely a last resort before full-blown homelessness sets in.
There are many folks in the RV community that have not only dispelled the “one-step away from homeless” idea, but actually have rigs that are much more luxurious than our old, 2,000-square-foot sticks and bricks home. In some cases, much more luxurious.
But unlike those opposite ends of the spectrum, and much more like most of the people we have come to know in the RV community, we opted for full-time RV living not because we were nearly destitute or because we thought we could purchase a mansion on wheels, but because we wanted the freedom.
Plain and simple, freedom is largely what most people opt into the RV lifestyle for. Plain and simple, climbing a mountain to an RV life and to play around in the snow is largely an embodiment of that same idea, freedom. Freedom to make your own choices. Freedom to map your own direction. Freedom to go on an adventure.
Freedom to Choose
I’m sure there are many other people in the world that have many other reasons, but for us, that’s what it boils down to. We trudged 6.5 miles through the snow to Section House, so that we had the freedom to trudge around some more on the peaks towering over our 11,481-foot-high temporary home base.
We know it’s not necessarily the easy path, but a path well chosen doesn’t have to be easy, it has to be one worth traveling.
On one of our epic days at Section House, we spent the morning ascending several hundred feet with our entire group to ride down one side of Boreas Pass. In the afternoon, April, myself, and our good friend Dan ambled up the much steeper, much higher side of the pass, snowboards strapped to our backs.
It was slow going. We easily doubled our travel time of the morning. But again, we kept putting one foot in front of the other, ascending through deep snow, navigating a few rocky crags, arriving near the upper reaches of a glorious chute full of white bliss that only a powder hound could truly appreciate.
It’s difficult to explain the shear joy of floating down the powdery snow of a mountain that you worked so hard to ascend to someone that hasn’t done it. But I would liken that to the first trip driving your new full-time RV home down the road, sitting back with the most gigantic smile on your face, anticipation flooding your veins, as it sets in. We really are doing this. We’re going on an adventure! (Said in your best Bilbo Baggins voice.)
At least, that’s the feeling we get from RAIF, not just from setting off down the open road, but also from reshaping his 2003 framework into something that fits us in 2018 and beyond.
Tearing out cabinets over the cab, opening it up to our creativity. Swapping out the wobbly jackknife bed to a more rustic looking futon. Upgrading the electrical system so that the sun can power us down any dusty dirt road that we find; our bikes hanging off the back, ready to seek out all the crazy craft brewers across the country.
That is why we do this.
We trek to the top of the mountain so that we’re free to fly down. We opt for this RV life so that we’re free to move around.
(Written by Ken Pishna)
(This article was originally published in #RV Magazine. #RV Magazine is digital, independent and focused on the latest RVs, trends and the needs of tech nomads, full-timers and van-lifers. It’s the magazine for people who never thought they’d buy an RV magazine.)