Audio File Download: Episode 005
In this episode I’m going to take a break from theology related topics and provide an update on the Eden Property, particularly on the process I’ve made with the hiking trails I’m putting in over the next few years.
Though not directly related to my theological studies, the property and the trails in particular are connected to my avocation, my proposed challenge to build a sustainable garden where I can live full time in the future. My hope is to one day soon sell my house in town and live here on the property, in a small shelter with just a hammock and a wood stove in the winter and then anywhere I want in the woods during the summers.
I’ll go into greater detail in a future episode about the plans I have for the property, the specifics and all that. But right now, let’s jump in and discuss what I’ve been doing for a few hours each day during the week as we settle into fall with the hope that I’ll be able to hold out this year through the cold weather and make it through to spring (fingers crossed)…
A Little Background on the Eden Property
For those who are new to my background or particular situation, let me fill in some details before I jump head long into updates.
First, I live in the Pacific Northwest, coming here several years ago from a flyover state, and settled along the coast in a small town, buying a tiny fishing shack in town and also buying property on a coastal lake which I hoped I would eventually one day develop into an edenic garden-like paradise property with a garden, a woodlot, and a permanent dugout shelter where I could live out the rest of my days writing and reading and researching the Bible and theology and Christian Philosophy.
At this point I’ve been living out on the property 5 days a week, spending 3 days a week at my house in town and working my part time job, which is about a 40 minute commute up the coast. It is a tremendous life so far, and I’m hoping for it to get even better in the next few years (fingers crossed).
But, this leads me to the kinds of things I hope to do at the Eden Property. Of course, I don’t want to go into detail here, but one of the activities I hope to spend the rest of my life engaged in is building, hiking, and enjoying trails on my property and the neighboring private forests.
So far, I have explored quite a bit of my property on both sides of the lake (I actually have two separate lots that are on the same deed), and about 10% of the adjacent woodlands to the east.
I have a trail established I call the east ridge finger trail that leaves my shelter and skirts up a small easter spur that sticks out (there are two spurs on my property, one on each side that come off the secondary ridge), head over to the other side and eventually taps into some kind of skidder road/trail that was used back when the valley was logged in the early 90’s. This skirts around a third spur and then crosses a small field, then runs eastward through the length of the valley, hugging the south side. I have not explored the length of this skidder road. The valley is approximately one mile in length, but is quite overgrown and difficult to wade through. No one comes down to this valley from the road on the main ridge (which is gated and locked).
I have explored another road on the north side of the valley, and also have gone up the ridge to a landing that is all but overgrown. This road supposedly leads out to the main ridge and connects to the main road (these are all dirt or gravel roads, the closest paved road is 15 miles away). I have driven to the locked gate once in my car, but the road is somewhat abandoned and not well maintained.
I also had another trail from the shoreline across the bottom of my property on the other side of the lake, but I’m certain this is now overgrown and inaccessible. It is quite difficult terrain over there and, unless I win the lottery, I will probably never develop it. It costs me about $20 in taxes each year and is tied to my other property, so it’s not a drain and I can see it from my dock on the other side and provides a nice, natural view.
Trail Progress Thus Far
This summer I’ve been working on a trail that starts from the east ridge finger trail, but goes in the opposite direction, up into the bowl. My property sits in a bowl between two spur fingers that stick out from the secondary ridge. This is a secondary ridge because it is is really a large spur that sticks out from the main ridge, and this main ridge is a peninusla, surrounded on three sides by the lake. The main ridge is approximately 2 miles in length (from the locked gate) and almost a mile wide from shore to shore.
The current trail, that I’m calling the bowl trail, crawls up the bowl, with multiple switchbacks, taking advantage of downed trees that over the years have created ledges on what is otherwise quite a steep incline on all three sides of the bowl. The bowl itself faces north with an east spur, west spur, and the south secondary ridge forming the boundaries.
My hope is to reach the top of the south ridge and connect the trail to a separate skidder road on the top. This road is just dirt and is all but completely overgrown in many parts. I’ve walked this road but not to the end (not sure where it goes, but I have an idea). It splits shortly after starting east from the top of the ridge, with the right leg heading up to the main ridge road, but it quickly turns into a true skidder trail where I assume they drug logs up using a cable system. It is too steep to drive any kind of vehicles on. The left leg heads down the north side of the secondary ridge and is almost completely washed out at a creek (there is still a bit of the road that is usable).
Now, about the bowl trail in particular.
I’m trying to keep the entire trail up the south ridge at no more than a 30 degree incline at any one point. I don’t want to have to use handholds or steps anywhere along the way. I hope to eventually widen the trail out so it is easy walking regardless the season. I do not plan to use a bicycle on any trails, but will stick to walking/hiking. If it were the only route out of the property, that would be one thing. But it is much quicker to park at the county boat ramp and paddle over in my kayak than it would be to ride the 15 miles north to the other town. The top of the secondary ridge is about 400 ft in elevation and there are two mountains to go over during those 15 miles.
The map I provided has the trail as a red line and shows the south ridge as “A” the east spur as “B” and the west spur as “C”. My shelter can be seen at the very bottom of the map. Just below the letter “C” is actually a power pole that is no longer being used by the power company. I had hoped at the beginning of the season that there was an old road that ran from the top of the southern ridge to that power pole, but I have since discovered there is not. At least, I can’t find one and the terrain seems way too steep. What I had thought was the remains of one turned out to be just a series of ledges created by trees that had fallen 10, 20 yeas ago. These actually come in handy, especially when two or more trees have fallen close to each other, creating in essence a perfect shelf for a trail.
There are some spots along the trail that are so steep there is really nothing but a foot hold to step in. We are not talking about cliffs here (I experienced those while hiking in the Alps, which were quite exhilerating), but steep enough that I will have to follow up with a shovel and dig out the trail.
I’ve found some great flat spots (again caused by falling trees) that will make great turn outs to put a chair or bench for prayer. In actuality, anywhere along the trail works great for this.
The trail has stopped as of last week just south of a large tree root, the terrain below it is so steep it appears as if the tree is laying almost vertically upsidedown. Right now it is about a 10 ft climb up to this shelf. I will need to put in at least two switchbacks to get up to this area to stay within the 30 degree incline limit. Where the trail leaves off is heading into the draw proper of the bowl. When I first bought the property I went up this draw to see how far I could get and it gets steep here quickly and stays that way. I never made it to the top.
My hope is that I will be able to circle around the south side of the bowl in a wide arch, increasing in elevation until I make it to the top of the southern ridge. I don’t know if I will be able to do this in one long trail segment or if I will have to add switchbacks to get the elevation I need. At this point, from the landmarks, it appears as if I’m about halfway up. But this can be very deceiving.
As for limits and challenges to finishing this bowl trail:
1. Hunting season is in full swing. Though they have shut down all private lands to hunting because of fire risk, I do not make it a habit of wandering around in the woods when there are townsfolk potentially wandering around with loaded guns. This is okay, since I have alot of work to do in this bowl trail and it is quite a ways away from the valley, which would be really the closest a hunter would come. To be honest, I doubt they would make the journey that far. The vegetation is really, really thick, there are no roads, and no places to ride 4wheelers in, so I can’t seem them interested. Even if you got down to the bottom, anything you killed would have to be packed out. Some might be committed enough to do this, but only a few. Still, I do not take the chance. I will stay out of the woods proper until Jan 1st when all hunting closes for the year. By then I should have the bowl trail completed and well established, which will open up the south ridge skidder segment for exploration.
2. The only other roadblock at this point will be the coming now of fall and quickly behind it winter. Temps are already cooling at night and early mornings, and soon they will be dipping down into the 30’s (20’s on my north facing property). My wood stove has been “repaired” and should last the rest of winter, hopefully. But, if I’m unable to stay multiple days at a time this winter, then my trail work will come to a stop until spring. My hope is that I can make it through the winter staying at the property Monday – Friday just like I did this summer. I think my hammock is ready. I have my pod sleeping bag, plus an underquilt, an overquilt, and I’m thinking about purchasing a winter wind sock for the hammock to test out. I’m hoping it will not have condensation problems like the hammock tarp does (it is so bad in that location that the tarp is virtually unusable). Once I’m in the dugout shelter and have the wood stove burning, I think (hope) the condensation will not be a problem long term. But while temporarily in the workshop, the wood stove will not be usable as a shelter heat source (but will be usable for cooking, heating water for showers, and generally warming up, drying out, etc).
My hope, long-term, is to connect all these trails and skidder roads together in the valley so I can then use them for general hiking and time spent in the woods in contemplation and prayer. Once I’m going in a mile or more to explore, I plan to take my mobile hammock system with me in my backpack/bugout bag and spend several days in walkabout, just exploring different parts of the forest. With all the segments connected, I will be able to create different loops, depending on how much time I want to spend out in the brush.
Overall, I love spending time out in nature and putting in trails and exploring spots in the woods I’ve never been before. I do not necessarily care to do this on public trails and in public forests where there’s a potential on meeting other people on the trail. I did that for awhile last winter and did not care for it. But, with the location of my land where it is, adjacent to several square miles of private forest land, with the only road access locked and the woods surrounded on three sides by water, plus the terrain being as uninviting as it is to most everyone else, I’m just about as close to paradise as I can get.
I will keep you updated on my future trailblazing and on my Eden Property as I make more progress.
Q & A’s
How do you get internet at the Eden Property? It sounds too remote (RJ in Oahu, HI)
Hey RJ! I actually visited your little island about two years ago on vacation. It was nice. It could have been better but that was my fault going with the people I did. But, despite terrible company, I still had a pretty good experience. But, back to your question. Before this summer I had no internet access at my property at all. in fact, about halfway through my paddle out, I would lose signal to my phone. But, after I upgraded to a new phone I discovered that I had not only phone service on my property but I could also use data. Granted it is WAY slow. In one spot in my garden proper, I get about .5 mbps to 1 mbps. It is quite a consistent connection at this spot, though, and can use it there whenever I want. Up on my deck, in my hammock, I get a little less than this, and it is not always as reliable. But it does work. Likewise, at different places on my property I can pick up unreliable signal. Other places are dead. I’m not really certain what town it’s feeding off of, since there are two possible in opposite directions of my location. I usually have my phone in my pocket and it’s always makes me smile when I’m moving around and my email notification suddenly goes off because I picked up a signal. It’s really strange when I’m out in the woods working on my trail or exploring and out of nowhere I get an email or a phone call. At the speeds I’m getting, I can do pretty much everything. I can watch Youtube videos. I can post a blog post. I can download books. And often I can download tv shows, but this is rather hit or miss from my hammock. From the spot in the garden I can download tv shows all day, but I typically wait until I’m back in town so the signal and speed is much better. I cannot post pictures to one of the forums I’m on, though. Something about their system doesn’t allow it due to the slow upload speed.
What do you do for food if you’re an hour and a half away from town by kayak and have no electricity? (Susie L in Kileen, TX)
Actually, just think whatever you do when you go camping. I have a small ice chest that I’ve been taking with me this summer and can store milk in it for at least 3 days. I do a lot of sandwiches (ham, etc) and I’ve cooked tacos and hotcakes on my wood stove. I eat cold cereal. I would like to try ham and mashed potatoes and also want to try tuna casserole and spaghetti next.
Lastly, I wanted to talk a little bit about some employment updates and where it appears God’s is leading me. First off, I’ve spoken in previous episodes about a particular seminary I applied at and was waiting for a response. Well, I did hear back and I did not get the position I applied for. I honestly am a little mixed on the news at this point. Part of me really wanted that job and another part of me really didn’t. But, it was the Lord’s will that I did not. Second, I’ve also applied for two pastor positions and I was passed over for both (thankfully). I personally don’t want to be a pastor, but now that I’ve finished my ThD I’m trying to remain open to God’s calling. Fortunately, it was not in either of these places. One was way out of my comfort zone. It was too big and too many people, full time, and way too much money. The second was part time, for a tiny church in a rural town and paid about $200 less / month than my current job.
On the other hand, my current job is really perfect for me, plus they are going out of their way to keep me on despite my religious exemption request. In just 5 more years I would be able to retire without selling my house (unless those now running the regime cause hyper-inflation, then not being able to retire will be the least of my worries).
So, as things stand now, I’m going to remain here in the PNW, and keep working on the Eden Property toward full time sustainability, while also preparing to live in hiding in the wilderness if events in my local area make a turn for the worse and God convicts me to flee. Otherwise, I’m going to enjoy the freedom and autonomy I have, with a clear conscience concerning ministry work. I know if God wants me doing something else he will convict me.
And that’s about it for this episode. If you have any questions about this show or have a Bible or theology or philosophy question you would like to ask me, or just want to leave me a comment you can do so by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or your can leave a comment on the show notes post on the website at isaachunterthewriter.com. If you want to support this podcast, please consider buying one or more of my fiction books. Just head over to the website and you can find them all listed there on the front page with excerpts and links to where they can be purchased.
Until the next time we get together…be well.
Excerpt from The Light Aurora:
The door’s lock released and Dr. Lewis looked around at each of them.
“Stay close, and be ready for anything. I’m not sure if they’re all in the Command Center or if they are trying to secure Level 4. Hell, they could all be evacuating.”
He stared at Scott as he came up onto the landing.
“Let’s go,” Scott said.
Dr. Lewis pushed the door open and walked out into the hall, followed by the others – in ones and twos. Level 2 was similar to the other level, with a long corridor, doors on either side, all with security displays recessed into the wall next to them.
But, as they entered the corridor, Scott’s breath caught in his throat. As he stood there with the others, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. In front of them, probably no more than a few yards away, were three bodies lying on the floor. One was sitting up against the wall, the side of his face melted, exposing his right eyeball and a good portion of his right skull. Another one was laying face down, his entire back opened up at the spine, as if his spinal cord had been ripped out of him from behind. The last one was a few more feet away from the others, on his back, his eyes seared from his head, black, burnt flesh where his eyes used to be.
The intercom came back to crackling life.
“Professor?” Derrick said over the intercom.
“Don’t worry. You can answer,” he said. “I can hear you.”
Scott looked up, then fixed his gaze on the security camera at the end of the corridor.
“Yes?” Scott finally asked.
There was a pause, static.
“What are you doing, Derrick?” he asked. “Did you do this?”
“Indeed,” Derrick said, coming back on.
“They refused to help me.”
“What are you trying to do, Derrick?” Scott asked.
There was another pause.
“I want to go home, Professor,” the boy said.
“Yes,” Derrick said, his tone soaked with some other-worldly confidence that did not belong in an innocent, ten year old boy.
“I want to go home, Professor,” he said again. “Would you be interested in coming home with me?”
Buy the entire story The Light Aurora today and get ready for the thrill ride of a lifetime! What is this foreign and hostile place these strangers find themselves in? What does it all mean? Will all of them survive?
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