Life Off the Grid

Homemaking can require hauling a sofa up ten narrow flights of concrete stairs, or carrying a mattress a thousand meters into the Olympic Rainforest.

The trick is: when you get where you’re going, you have to find a way to be comfortable. Photographer, Wilder Mathhias, wasn’t comfortable when he arrived in Washington State. The move marked Matthias' first experience living off the grid, in a rainforest, away from electricity, plumbing, and his mid-western roots.

Matthias' rental cabin was shrouded in one of the thick forests that bind Western Washington together––just ten minutes from the typical conveniences of an American strip mall––but offering all the distinct feelings of isolation that the photographer had sought in a ‘remote’ space.
“It’s a place where you can grow and discover things that you’re curious about,” Matthias says. “I wanted to experience a minimal, off-the-grid lifestyle and discover how my perspective could change on what I thought I knew.”
Matthias's rental sat on a 20-acre plot with four additional cabins, each featuring distinctive architecture, functionality, and privacy––out of sight from one another, but close enough to remain a community.

The cabins were erected slowly and purposefully by travelers and friends of the property’s enigmatic owner, a man who after surviving a run-in with musical fame in the 1980s, has since been dedicated to preserving his land as a sanctuary. The builders have intentionally allowed for the advancement of moss, trees, and grass into each parcel of new construction, as a means of encouraging the lush landscape.
“I wanted to experience a minimal, off-the-grid lifestyle and discover how my perspective could change on what I thought I knew.”
“It’s a very unique housing situation,” Matthias says of the property. “If there’s something you want fixed, you’re not going to whine to the landlord that your cabin isn’t up to the highest living standards. You have to take responsibility to make it as comfortable as you want it to be.” Matthias spent six-months chopping firewood, listening to the stories and advice of his neighbors, and recording the work of carpenter Jacob Witzling. Each day brought new challenges, from battling house spiders, to keeping equipment dry during an almost constant drizzle.

The video featured above is a sample of Matthias' documentation from his time in the Washington woods; experiences that despite being difficult at times, afforded him new focus and perspective as an outdoorsman and a photographer. 

[ Credits ]
@justindkauffman - cinematography
@wildermatthias - photography, voiceover, director
@joshuanightfury - female model

The Valhalla Cabin Building Photography by Chris Kerksieck & sponsored by Highland Park Whisky.

Words by Ross Buchanan