Remember Molly and Zack's ski lodge on wheels? They're still going strong, winter weather and all: no storm will stop these snow-lovers. Bundle up before you read this inspiring story Molly sent us...brrr!
It was December 21, 2012. The world (or just the calendar) was supposed to end. Ironically as skiers, our world was about to start. It was early winter and there was 10 feet of snow on the way. But it wasn’t just that winter had arrived. The elevation of our experience was reaching Everest proportions because of a little winter cabin on wheels. A mere 112-square feet was going to have grand implications. Our tiny house was going to get us stranded in the storm, with no other skiers allowed into our powder land.
Stranded. The word beckons thoughts of despair, desperation, and misery. It’s not something you want to be, see, or deal with. Until the world is about to end, 10 feet of snow is predicted to fall at Mt. Baker, and you’ve got your tiny house parked at the ski area with food and wood stocked and the fire stoked. It is only then that “stranded” starts to sing vibrant, melodious notes of luck, opportunity, and blessing. Then being stranded turns into some sort of victory.
On the day the world was supposed to end, we started out by digging a walking path from the front door of the tiny house through the four feet of snow that had fallen overnight. It was not a tiny task, but one isn’t given an option, when the front door is blocked by a snow bank. We shoveled and heaved, moving mounds of the fresh snow that we would soon be skiing. The ski area parking lot was empty, other than the plow, disappearing behind waves of snow.
When we moved into our tiny house last year, there was the promise of downsizing our possessions and up-scaling our experiences. We wanted to be mobile, with the ability to sleep in ski area parking lots and find all the deepest storms. In terms of richness, our wealth came from a bank of powder turns, not dollar bills. As skiers, being stranded at Mt. Baker was the best we could do in the realm of experience. It was our pot of gold. In fact, we were living out many other skier and snowboarder’s dreams. Without our little portable home, we would’ve never been in that spot at that time. The tiny house had put us into position to get stranded. I guess what you’re seeking is also seeking you.
In the end, we had three private days of skiing in the forest near the Mt. Baker ski area. The Department of Transportation eventually removed all of the one hundred plus trees that had fallen over the highway during the apocalyptic storm. Floods of skiers came to the ski area to discover just exactly what they had missed. We knew what they had missed. And we reminisced as we planned to excavate the tiny house from what had become a tiny mountain of snow in the parking lot.
Heading to warmer land
We got by with a little help from our friends. A satiating six-pack of beer for a hard-working plow driver helped us remove some of the snow that had piled up outside the house. By the time most skiers arrived, we’d removed the tiny house from its’ tiny, temporary homestead and had headed to drier, warmer elevations to celebrate the holiday with family. And to find out that the world had not ended after all.
Here’s to another year of big experiences in our tiny house!
Molly Baker will be showing her Tiny House this Wednesday
Come meet Molly at the Outdoor Research Retail Store November 28th, starting at 6pm.
She'll be giving tours of the house, and will be able to answer any questions you may have about traveling from all their ski destinations in their home modeled after our Epu.
She'll also be hosting a ski waxing party, so bring your Skis!
The Outdoor Research Retail Store is located at:
1st Avenue South
Click here to see more images of the Tiny House Ski Lodge
For more information, click here to go to the Outdoor Research Retail Store website
Above: YouTube video of Zack & Molly's Tiny House filmed edited and produced by Sam Giffin.
When extreme skiers Molly Baker and Zack Giffin set out to pitch their idea for a ski tour to their sponsor, Outdoor Research, Tumbleweed’s Epu provided the inspiration to bring people something that no one had ever seen before. Armed with Zack’s background in carpentry, a love for skiing and Tumbleweed’s website, Zack and Molly created a tiny home with everything their team of FIVE athletes and cameramen would need. What followed became an epic adventure, and a public reaction, to the tiny home on wheels that was something nobody expected.
Neal Provo on the slopes. Photo by Mark Fisher.
Tumbleweed recently had the opportunity to talk to both Zack
and Molly about their tiny home adventure during the 2012-2013 ski season, and
one of the first things we wanted to know was how people reacted to it. Zack explained that when they came in to
Tiny Ski Lodge on Wheels. Photo by Mark Fisher.
When challenging norms, not everyone is going to agree. Zack says that, although people’s reactions were overwhelmingly positive, there were a few exceptions. “People either get it or they don’t, and they don’t understand why. We show up and we have a completely different mentality. [To those people] we are an affront to their values.” Molly tells us of a police officer who came upon their house parked along a street. “I don’t know what is wrong with this, but something is.” She tried to explain that it was like a cabin on wheels but he just couldn't get it. A few people thought it was Santa’s workshop and, a few others, a coffee cart. "It was so surprising to see people's reactions. Their imaginations of what we we're doing exceeded what we expected."
When pitching the idea of this ski tour to Outdoor Research, the team used Tumbleweed’s Epu in their presentation, along with a more standard tour modeled on the use of an RV. Molly said the RV“[was] not going to connect with people. There was no question they trusted that this was the only option.” Zack, on the other hand, said he was “almost dead certain they wouldn’t go for it and, to my surprise they did.” He was impressed with the company’s ability to see the value in it. “Not every company would say yes to this project.”
Once given the go ahead, Zack and Molly had seven weeks to build the house and plan the tour. The work and the hours put in by both were daunting, but Molly tells us "We were certainly dreaming big, but it's amazing what you can create with grand ideas and purposeful intentions." To make matters more interesting a tree fell on the house in the early part of the build and a freak cold snap filled the home with snow. Molly faced the challenge of trying to explain how they were traveling when calling to ask permission to stay in parking lots. If they didn't understand she’d ask, “Have you heard of Tumbleweed?” and direct them to the website. “Then you drop the tiny house on them!” Looking back she says “Every time we pulled in I sensed that we had exceeded expectations.”
The interior of the home was customized to meet the needs of the team of five skiers and cameramen as well as all of their gear. Two ropes connected by wooden dowels swung down between the ceiling and the wall above the wood stove to separate the gear, and dry it after a day in the snow.
Zack & Molly in their tiny house. Photo by Mark Fisher.
Given the drying clothes and the occupation of the small house by five adults engaged in vigorous physical activity, it is surprising that people’s first reaction upon entering this tiny space was often “Oh my God! It smells amazing in here!” Zack credits three things for the unexpected reaction –
- The lack of mildew. Mildew is a common problem in these climates especially in small spaces. The team would stoke the fire beyond what they needed and open the windows to help dissipate the moisture created by drying clothes and five people breathing.
- The smell of a wood fire.
- The smell of the raw wood interior. The idea of using raw wood came from looking at Tumbleweed’s website. Zack remembers the scent in the tiny house giving one “warm feelings, feelings, like home.”
Spiral staircase leads up to loft. Photo by Mark Fisher.
Attention to detail in a small space is critical. The staircase (pictured above) in Zack and Molly’s tiny home is an excellent example. They wanted to keep the space open for conversation, but placing a ladder up against the wall would run a person straight up in to the pitch of the roof. In order to avoid that problem, Zack along with his friend Paul, a talented woodworker, created the staircase you see in the photos. It allows the space to stay open and still allows a person climbing up to bed to find themselves centrally located in the loft. That is not the only aspect of this staircase that makes them unique. If one looks carefully, the stairs, the brackets holding the stairs and the angles of the brackets all conform to the golden ratio revered by both architects and artists for centuries. Each stair, bracket and angle differs from the previous one at a ratio of 1:6. Attention to detail at its finest.
When asked about their favorite moments with their tiny home, Molly laughs and recalls the first time she saw the house pulled on to the street. “From the back you can’t see the truck so you just see this house going down the street. I was crying I was laughing so hard.” She also recalls an evening more recently at the Banff Film Festival when 16 friends gathered in their tiny home, including a friend in a wheelchair. “People were sitting on the stairs, the couch… everywhere. It was wonderful.”
Zack says it’s “when people talk about being inspired by what we’ve done, when they connect the dots and see the possibilities of an adventure of their own.”
In their video (featured at the top of this post) Molly sums up their experience eloquently - “Living in the tiny house we learned that it’s so much more than a house, so much more than a powder crazed ski mobile. It’s a way to spark conversations, make new friends and be at home wherever you go. It serves as proof that ideas can become reality even if you are afraid of what they might turn in to.”
Tiny House at Night. Photo by Mark Fisher.