For six days, we worked to turn a small clearing situated in a stand of stately Douglas Firs into a place of our own. Our fearless leader, a builder by trade, had the right experience to guide the project. But the rest of us were total novices.
Why would a group of guys in their twenties burn a week’s worth of precious vacation days and travel thousands of miles simply to wake up with the sun, lug heavy pieces of wood through rain and mud, and essentially build a fort? It might sound nuts, but we wanted to use our hands for something other than tapping away at a keyboard or smartphone; to be directly responsible for building a place that we can enjoy together in the coming years; to use vacation for creation rather than escape; and, above all, to learn something new.
Despite dozens of small screwups, as well as a few bigger mistakes, we managed to erect a solid ~200 square foot cabin in six days of building. The project consumed 264 two-by-fours, ~40 working hours, 3,000 photos (which add up to this time-lapse video) and about $6,000 (excluding the land we built on). I returned to Manhattan convinced that there is no better way to spend a week with close friends — a cabin build will beat a week in Cancun every time.
In the hope of inspiring a few more restless city dwellers to briefly trade a laptop for a hammer and the urban forest for a real one—and ideally to have as positive an experience as we did—here’s a snapshot of what we learned in the woods.