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LIFE ON KOLOB MTN. ISN'T FOR EVERYONE

Alice Priest isn't startled each morning by the bone-jarring buzz of an alarm clock. She awakes to the sounds of solitude: chirping birds and rushing wind.

She slips out of bed and walks downstairs to get a glimpse of heaven through her front window.For four years now, Alice and her husband, Joe, have braved the wilds of Kolob Mountain for that view.

A valley filled with pine trees - poised against a mountain background - stretches as far as the eye can see. The bright summer sun seems to cast a halo over nature.

"You can see forever," Priest said. "It changes with every little bit of sun. When there is a full moon, it's gorgeous."

The Priests are the only year-round residents on Kolob Mountain. During the winter, snowmobiles are the only mode of transportation, and getting snowed in isn't just a possibility - it's a given.

"In wintertime it's a hardship here," said Joe Alicastro, who lives in the valley. "You have to snowmobile 12 miles to get here from the switchback."

The living is rustic, but they came to get away, to leave the urban sprawl, to be renewed by nature. Located between Cedar City and St. George near Zion National Park, this secluded nook remains unscathed by the trappings of technology. The raging debate right now is whether they want phone service.

"We pioneered it," Alice said. "It takes a little bit of courage to be up here. We heard other people were going to do it, but they haven't. Lots of people would like to, they just don't have the courage."

Alicastro lives in the valley but has a cabin on the mountain. He plans to move up there permanently this fall.

"There ain't no place else like it," he said. "The tranquillity the scenery. It's remote. There`s not a hassle, the rat race is not here."

Like the Priests, Alicastro draws upon an abundance of courage during the long winter months. "I don't even know the definition of scared," he said.

For the Priests, it's not isolation - it's a retirement haven. They have owned the property for more than 30 years, waiting for the day they could live there full time.

"I got tired of all the crowds and everything," Alice said. "I like animals better than people. So we've got more animals than people."

A bobcat has rested underneath the porch, a fox has come sniffing around, a cougar chased a deer within view from the front window. She feeds exotic-looking birds, sets out water for deer and can make wild turkeys answer when she calls.

"When you don't see anybody, you do stupid things," she said.

In exchange, she offers the animals protection.

"I can't control what they do down there," she said, pointing toward the valley. "But they're not killing them in front of my house."