Jan 16 • 39M

Getting off the Grid with Kelton Wright

Preparing for, and delving into the difficulties and rewards of living in a small mountain town.

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Conversations in, and about the outdoors and the incredible adventures you can find there. Topics range from conservation, to tackling tough challenges that push our limits.
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Welcome Back to Trail Talk

During these interview podcast posts, I share stories from other members of the outdoor community. Range from wild adventures to survival skills, conservation, and current events.

Look for episodes in your mailbox Sunday mornings at 9 a.m., MST. The stories you’re used to seeing will still arrive at the usual time, Thursday mornings.

EP 09: Kelton Wright, High Altitude Living

Growing up in an outdoorsy family, Kelton lived the outdoor life long before moving to her current location: a remote cabin in a tiny town, high in the mountains.

She has been featured in Bicycling Magazine, Runner’s World, Peloton Magazine, Outside Magazine, and more.

Kelton, with her dog Cooper
Kelton, with her dog Cooper

Roughly six months ago, Kelton and her husband made a lifechanging move — and she’s been sharing her experience on Substack ever since.

Now, she writes “Shangri-Logs,” sharing the details, challenges, and excitement that comes with cabin life.

“It Alleviates my Nonsensical Anxiety to have Real Things to take care of.”

I’ve long theorized our brains wrestle with profound boredom when our base needs are being met. For many of us: food, water, warmth, and shelter are constantly within convenient reach.

Sometimes I wonder if we worry about insignificant things, because there are fewer significant worries to fixate on.

There’s something about removing the barriers between ourselves, and the procurement of our necessities that reconnects the mind to a primal sense of peace.

a cloudy sky, vibrant leaves, and mountains in the background
Photo by Kelton Wright, of a nearby jogging route

That’s part of the reason I’ve always loved the outdoors so much: a routine built around survival, and the deeply restful sleep that can only come from a hard day’s work.

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Interview Notes

2:00 — House hunting for a rustic cabin
4:30 — Putting ourselves closer to our daily needs
6:15 — “Purposely living the hardest life they can”
8:00 — The challenges with living in a cabin
9:20 — What’s needed to keep the house going
11:00 — The Sisyphean task of snow shoveling
12:30 — Becoming avalanche aware
17:00 — Picking a place where you’ll fit in
19:45 — Pandemic problems for small towns
21:00 — Tips for meeting the townsfolk as an introvert
22:30 — Uncovering cool stories in unexpected places
24:00 — Sharing your gifts and skills with the town
27:00 — How do you start the road to cabin living?
30:30 — Spending time in the place you want to call home
32:00 — The crushing anxiety of clutter
36:00 — Embracing the challenges and difficulties
38:00 — Where to follow

“Sometimes when it Snows Inside, it’s Magical”

In a recent post, Kelton talks about insulation, indoor snow, and the effort required to keep the cabin up and running. When the wind really gets to howling, sometimes the outside comes inside — blowing through tiny gaps in the cabin.

Shangri-Logs
Is this safe? - #19
Shoveling out three bodies in under 12 minutes isn’t bad, but there’s room to improve. After all, shoveling has been the hobby du jour lately. And it’s almost entirely the wind’s fault. We’ll get to the bodies in a minute, but we have to start with the wind…
Read more

Despite this, Kelton says there’s a certain satisfaction from digging out your driveway and keeping the fire alive. A satisfaction you just can’t get by simply turning up the thermostat.

There’s also the feeling that this practical exercise becomes a sort of natural fitness routine, even getting the body ready for emergencies that we discuss in the interview.

“Can I just live in my House with the Things that I have, and be Prepared?”

Could you live in your home for a week without ordering anything? Can you get by without your Amazon Prime subscription? Do you know how to cook?

These are all questions Kelton says ought to be weighed carefully before you move to the mountains.

a cabin with a large window view of green trees and a mountain ridge line
The view from the Cabin

Another important idea arises from this: the crushing anxiety of clutter. The ability to order anything you want on demand is useful, but not without its drawbacks.

Sometimes, having to actually go to a store to pick something out, forces you to weigh whether you really need something. Seriously — how many impulse buys do you have, crowding your home and collecting dust?

Try Before You Buy

Before moving to the new home, Kelton and her husband went through an extensive road trip and tour process. She wanted to see potential homes in multiple seasons and get a feel for the community.

You might be surprised by the things you’ll have to do for yourself.

a tiny post office
Kelton has to bike to the town’s tiny post office to send mail.

Jumping in without understanding what you’re getting into could sink your entire move.

Where to Follow Kelton Wright

You can follow Kelton’s tales and updates here on Substack.

Here’s her most recent newsletter — a great piece about working to fit into small town life:

Shangri-Logs
Is this making friends? - #20
If we’re ranking mental health salves, enchantment is as close to a natural benzodiazepine that I’ve found. I spent the first five months here talking to trees, sharing giggles with squirrels and apologizing to surprised porcupines like we bumped into each other coming and going from our local coffee haunt. Oop! Sorry, you go! No, no, you go! Ooh, oops…
Read more

You can also follow @Shangrilogs on Instagram for updates on the cabin, and renovations, or @Keltonwrites for more high-altitude adventures.

You can also follow Trail Talk on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, to make listening on the go that much easier.