The idea of living off the grid, either out of a rigged vehicle, a tent, or a backpack has become a fantasy for most outdoor enthusiasts. This often leads to the search for seasonal work that will keep you in the backcountry or at least with a long drive from town. But how about during the school year? Friends and USU students, Nick Johnson, Jonathan Bertagna, Fischer Olpin did just that in the fall of 2020.
“We had been looking for housing all summer, we spent a lot of money on application fees and still no house,” Olpin said. “Getting closer to the start of school and we had no place to stay. I knew Nick’s dad had a wall tent. I called up Nick and said ‘dude, does your dad have that wall tent? We should live in that, in logan canyon.’ From there we stopped looking for a house, figured we would live in a tent for the first couple weeks, school would get canceled because of covid, then we would go back home. School never got canceled. so we figured we would just ride it out.”
They packed up and moved into the canyon. Every day they would make the trek to campus to attend their classes through zoom, take a shower at a friend’s and grab some provisions before heading back to their home in the woods. But it wasn’t always fun and games.
“A beaver was trying to take down some trees that were directly behind the tent, and we would wake up at 4 every morning and go chase it off. We had a semester-long war with this beaver, and it even dropped a tree on the tent collapsing it.” Johnson said.
Most nights were full of beer, burritos, and the joys of being away from service. They did have friends come to visit and hosted a Borat 2 watch party with their friends. Living in the middle of nowhere definitely shows you which friends are going to stick around. It is not easy to get new people over, let alone girls when you share a 13×27 foot tent with two other guys.
“We would have guests over sometimes but they were rarely female. Turns out most women don’t want to spend the night in a tent in freezing cold weather.” Bertagna said.
The guys have moved into a more modern location for this spring semester but they all around agreed that it was their most memorable semester so far.
“So worth it! It will definitely be the most memorable semester of college for me,” Johnson said.
“Absolutely was worth it…made many memories that will last a lifetime,” Bertagna said.
“It was so worth it, I loved every minute of it. It was such an amazing adventure and something I will remember for the rest of my life,” Olpin said.