The First Chilkat Lake Cabin

We started our first cabin at Chilkat Lake in 1995. We traveled from Juneau to the Lake almost every weekend from mid May through late October.  Our first trip for the summer was when we brought the truck and boat up for the summer and last trip was when we took it all back to Juneau for the winter.   The summer trips, with few exceptions, were in our Cessna 182.  We brought supplies, tools and food for the weekend. The exceptions were when the weather precluded flying up to the Lake or back to Juneau and we had to ride the Alaska ferry.   Looking back there were very few times when we not able fly both ways.

 

First Cabin up the lake
First Cabin up the lake

On our first trip into the Lake to start our cabin that spring was one of excitement an also reservations.  We had pre-assembled a 4’x8’ shed and purchased the treated lumber to build the stairs and platforms to access the lot from the lake. We prefabricated the shed and parts of the stairs at our house in Juneau so that we could get it all put together in one weekend.

 

It may be a little difficult to see it from the picture but there is about an 8’ to 9’ bank from the lake to a flat area where we could assemble the shed and build a trail to the cabin site. The shed would store the generator, tools, and construction supplies for our project.

 

By the end of August the first summer we were able to move into the cabin. It was mostly a shell with the  insulation showing and part of the kitchen cabinets. By the end of September we had the T&G interior siding up and were finishing up some of the trim. It was a lot of loads in the boat and truck and many hours of construction. 

First Cabin interior
First Cabin interior

It took us three more years to complete the cabin. We added on an 8 foot section to the back of the cabin and used the space for a bathroom, entry way and utility room. We added a storage building up behind the house, expanded the generator/boat shed to and 8’x 8’ building and built a water storage shed. The last addition was a second bedroom under the front deck.  We thought it was really nice and the view we had out our front windows is what started the whole thing.

 

By many standards this was a still a pretty small cabin. The original cabin was 12’ x 16’ and with the 8’ addition we had 20’ x 16’ cabin. The second bedroom was 12’ x 16’ so the total living area was about 512sq ft.

 

That may not seem very big but it was just the two of us and we had to haul every last piece of lumber, equipment, materials, supplies, etc about 6.5 miles up the lake to construct the site.  And most of the work was done on weekends. 

 

Our Retirement Home Project

In 1998 we decided to retire to the lake.  With that decision we decided to find a lot closer to the lake’s trail system for better summer and winter access.  This was an old issue of access to and from the lake in winter.  One winter vacation we had been stranded at our cabin by an avalanche for 4 days.  After that we didn't think the first cabin site was the best year round location.

 

So that decision started the search for a new cabin site and a new building project.  We found a lot for sale about a mile or so down lake very near where the back trail system ended.  With the purchase of that lot in late 1998 we were on our way to building our retirement home.  In May of 1999 we started clearing the alder and prepping the site to construct our first building.  The first building was again a shed to house the generator and tools for the project.  Then foundations piers were constructed and we took delivery of the building materials to construct the entire 20’ by 20’ workshop.  It would be used as our cabin for the interim until we could design and construct our home.  Or so we thought.  

It took us over a week of continuous hauling by boat to get the materials into the cabin site.  And for the first 4 days we had other folks on the lake helping us haul with their boats.  We didn’t count the loads but there were lots and lots of loads because you can’t haul too much weight in a 16’ skiff.  Some days we had to stop hauling for a while so we could carry that material off the docks and up the lot so we could make room for more loads.  

 

We spent all summer and into the fall building the cabin.  By mid October we were able to spend one night in the cabin before we closed it up for the winter.  Again it was pretty rough with the studs, ceiling joists and the insulation showing but we had a couch that made into a bed and a make shift kitchen.  We felt pretty good about the progress the two of us had accomplished in just one season of mostly weekend work.

 

 

 

 Jump ahead 5 years, many a boat trip and days of construction and we now had a cabin with a bathroom, utility room, kitchen cabinets, living room, decks, lights, water system, a bedroom in the loft .  We now had boat house, a storage shed, outhouse and a real shop with a separate room for the generator and solar system.   It was this year that we decided to contract the construction of a log home that attached to our existing cabin.  I had finished the foundation and helped the contractor build the floor system for the house in 2004.  In May of 2005 we help the contractor construct the log portion of our home.  He finished his work in July and then we finished the interior walls, electrical, gable siding, insulation, flooring and decks.  In 2005 we also moved to the lake after retiring. 

 

By June 2006 we had much of that work done with the help of friends and were able to host our cousins and friends for a week in the new combined cabin. 

 

We have finished the cabin and the out buildings are complete.  We have a tower for TV and Internet, a hot tub and workout building, a raised vegetable garden, flower gardens, more decks, upgraded dock facilities, septic and gray water systems, wood shed, up graded solar system, and have connected our home to the back trail system.