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"Modern" conveniences in the backwoods: no one wanted to bathe in dirty water!

My wife, son and I have lived in the backwoods for many years without electric power, phones, tvs, solar panels or generators. It all started in the deep forests of north central British Columbia Canada three miles outside the small community of Mason Creek, then 54 miles from the nearest living soul outside of Germansen Landing three years later.

We found that most backwoods people took their baths in washtubs, large bowls or other containers. Water had to be carried to the house from streams, ponds or hand-dug wells, then heated and poured into tubs. Some held off taking any bath until they could go to the nearest town to use a pay shower, or a friend's house. This would sometimes mean long periods without bathing.

Most people we met who had to carry five-gallon buckets of water long distances would tend to limit the number of baths per week, especially if the family had more than three members. Since we couldn't stand taking baths in dirty water, and being as inventive as I am, I built our first outdoor backwoods shower. The construction was simple and it eliminated plumbing, although we have to cut a lot of grass around the base of the shower house three or four times a year.

I simply used poles high enough for the tower, put on braces and cross-braces, took a 55-gallon drum and cut a large hole in the upper side of it to pour water into, put the drum on the top braces, built a ladder up to it, ran a piece of garden hose from the small bung to an old shower head, built a shower stall near the tower, covered it with 6 mil plastic, ran the hose into the top of it, and we all had hot showers in all kinds of weather, even at -32[degrees]F.

Photo 1 shows the tower with the drum on top, located on the back side of the old trapper's cabin We lived in on the Mosquito Lakes area on Lost Creek in 1983. The shower stall had been removed for our move to Moose Lake, a mile away. A gold miner bulldozed the cabin thinking he would find gold under it--he didn't.

Photo 2 partially shows the tower with the stall next to it on the left, attached to another old miner's cabin made out of 1/4-inch plywood and covered with 6 mil plastic at one of the Mandac Lakes, 54 miles from Germansen Landing in 1986.

Photo 3 shows our modern shower house, completely enclosed, and heated by a 1S-gallon barrel stove which heats the shower room and dressing room--quite a change from the old days.

Al is selling plans for those who want to know how to build one without guessing. He includes tips on site planning, cheap materials, no-freeze feed lines, stove info, and more. $25 to: Al Herrick, c/o PO Box 274, Tonasket, WA (near) 98855.
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Title Annotation:Alternative housing
Author:Herrick, Al
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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