Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It’s Mostly About The View

Dale Matson

My folks had a summer cabin on a lake back in Michigan. We could see much of the lake from the glassed in porch stretched across the front of the cabin. The view of Sunrises reflecting on the water was beautiful and marine birds skimming across the water smooth as glass made for a great start to the day.

In 1980 I designed a passive solar earth sheltered home facing south built into a moraine running east and west. The entire front of the home was windows and glass slider doors. The view was five acres of hardwoods. I did the site work including the excavation, septic system and finish grading. It was a simple design with a great view. We had lots of white tail deer and wild turkeys that would pass through. The spring snow melt created a temporary creek that flowed through an 18” corrugated metal pipe I installed beneath the driveway.

It seems like it always comes back to the view for me. After living in Fresno for twelve years I had spent plenty of time in the foothills and mountains of the central Sierras. It was now time again to begin thinking about the view. The drive up the four lane (Highway 168) has a great view of a portion of the Central Sierras.

Central Sierra View At Top Of Four Lane
I investigated much of the area east of us around Shaver and Huntington Lakes but most of the land and cabins were leased from the U.S. Forest Service. It is never a certainty that the leases will be renewed. I enjoyed using my mountain bike to investigate many of the nooks and crannies around the lakes. I talked to a local realtor and he had some property for me to look at. There were new improved half-acre wooded lots but they were pricey with no views.

We made an offer on a seven acre hillside wooded parcel. The access road was an easement and there were no improvements. What the property had was a promising possibility of a view, hardwoods, and evergreens and a year round creek. At around 4,000’ we were also in poison oak. There is not much poison oak above 5,500’.  We could see through a gap to the southeast and knew there was a view along the foothills. After drilling a productive water well, we established that we had a buildable lot. We hired a local logger who took out the trees blocking part of our view.

Brush Needing Chipping

He took the logs to the mill and we used the limb wood for heating the cabin. We rented a chipper for the brush. We had a view. We could even see Florence Peak (about 12,400’) in Mineral King National Park about 70 miles south southeast on a clear winter day.

I Graded A Small Footprint To Accommodate
 The Cabin And Septic Field

The View

Three years later we built a small cabin on the property but it is more about the view. I probably have one thousand photographs of the view and each is different. The view is soothing and healing and worth the struggles bringing in utilities, providing on site waste disposal, making an all season access drive, meeting county site requirements and CDF fire setbacks. It is a humble cabin with a priceless view.     

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