Winter in Wyoming - Christmas 2012

We spent this Christmas in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. Lisa’s family had never used their cabin in the middle of the winter for various reason (COLD being primary) but this year her Dad decided it was time to give it a shot.

The lack of electricity at the cabin can be a real problem in the winter. The luxuries of forced-air or radiator heat do not exist. We kept the cabin warm (about 65 degrees average) by burning a combination of wood, coal, and for short periods a propane generator. The plumbing is basic and, due to the cold, was frozen when we got there (yes, that includes the “facilities”). Luckily there is an outhouse built into the side of the mountain near the cabin, but I can assure you that using it in extremely cold temps takes getting used to. Boiling water on the cookstove (for cooking, washing, brushing teeth, dishes, etc.) and filling buckets in the creek to force-flush the indoor toilet were tasks we all shared throughout every day, in addition to feeding the three fires that were burning throughout the cabin at all times. At this temperature you do not want your fires to go out — when we arrived, the temperature inside the cabin was 0ºF (Zero), compared to about 20ºF outside.

Soon the fires were stable and everyone had the hang of things thanks to the practice and outdoor sensibilities of Lisa’s parents. The few days we were there consisted mostly of hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, cooking, eating, playing cards and dominos, and in my case taking photos. The mountains and scenery are beautiful in winter, and hiking during the day while the sun is out (with appropriate attire) is quite enjoyable. The visit was extremely relaxing and gave a glimpse into the way people everywhere lived in the “olden days” — overall it was a much simpler time but there was always work to be done to ensure everyone was comfortable.

Lisa’s parents deserve much thanks and a lot of credit for the preparation required to make this happen for six people. Gathering resources (wood, coal, food), arranging transport without the ability to use cars on the road during winter (see below), and making sure the amateurs didn’t get into trouble are not easy tasks I’m sure. I enjoyed the hell out of this trip and hope to do it again someday now that I’ve learned a few things.

More pics to come soon — I shot three rolls of film (two B&W, one color) but will have to wait a little while to get those developed.