The Challenges of Wilderness Living

isolated cabin photo
Photo by Pictures by Ann

Looking for some inspiration for wilderness living? Then take a look at the Paulsen Family’s luxury island getaway, just a few hours north of Minneapolis, Minnesota!

Located on an island in Lake Vermillion, this cabin is the height of wilderness luxury. For us, it’s a great example of how to build a cabin right. With a modest 800’ square foot footprint, it’s minimally impactful on the gorgeous natural surroundings. At the same time, though, it’s about as beautiful on the inside as the forest around it is!

Without knowing much about wilderness living, it’s easy to take a look at the Paulsen’s cabin and say ‘Gosh, what a pretty cabin.’ But the more you know about wilderness life, the more respect you have for the thought that’s gone into the design of utilities and infrastructure the Paulsens must have needed to make the cabin as comfortable as it is.

Wilderness Living means thinking it all the way through!

Island living is no joke. Without access to the mainland, you’ve got to think about a lot of things that we may just take for granted. For example, where does your trash go, when you have to boat everything in and out? Where do you get your water? A lot of little things add up to a surprisingly uncomfortable living situation. Without some good planning, you’re only a couple of steps away from camping!

You don’t have to be a professor of architecture–like Kristen Paulsen–to cover your bases. All you have to do is ask yourself a couple of key questions. For instance, where are you getting your water? The Paulsens used a well in a National Park ten minutes away, for drinking water. For all other utilities, they used lake-water filtered through a peat-based bio-filter. If that sounds like a good set-up, then look at Anua’s Puraflo peat fiber biofilter system! If that doesn’t sound like your kind of setup, there are a lot of other solutions, including a simple cistern. Make sure to pick the one that’s best for you.

Connection or no, you’ve got to take out the trash

Another question, is how connected to the outside world would you like to be? The Paulsens were able to have a great level of connectivity with a town about twenty minutes away, including groceries and coffee shops. They even had their mail delivered every morning by boat! Connectivity can mean supplies, trash-removal, and amenities. It can even mean safety and help in an emergency. However, connectivity may be something you’d like to avoid– in that case, consider what you’re willing to do without, and plan accordingly.

Finally, wastewater and septic issues! Nobody likes to think about it, but these can make or break your wilderness experience. From traditional solutions like a well-placed septic-tank to more off-beat solutions like composting toilets, you’ve got to dispose of your wastewater somehow.

No doubt you’ve got the perfect spot picked out. By thinking through some simple–but often overlooked–questions, you can enjoy it as much as the Paulsens do!

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