Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An Early Christmas in the Rockies

Christmas in the Colorado high country - a bit early. Last weekend was the 5th or 6th (no one really knows) Annual Christmas Hut Trip complete with turkey, stuffing, home made cranberry sauce and a "white elephant" gift exchange. Most of the time when I tell friends and family that I'm doing a "hut trip", it's definitely not what they envision. Sure there is the slight detail of snowshoeing anywhere between 4-11 miles in order to get to the "hut", but it's well worth the effort!

The 10th Mountain Division hut system is a series of 29 huts in the central Colorado Rockies linked together by 350 miles of trails. The "huts" are typically 2 stories and can accommodate up to 16 people per night. Basically, one has all the basic necessities to survive many nights in typically sub-zero temperatures. There is an extensive kitchen complete with 4-burner propane stoves, solar paneled light system for the evening hours, 2 cast iron wood stoves for heating, and all the water you drink in the form of fresh fallen snow that you constantly gather and melt. Definitely visit the following URL for details:

Our group of 11 was composed of "grizzled" hut veterans as well as 2 hut virgins. The trip in was about 3 miles of snow covered roads and 3 miles of single track snow covered trail to the Uncle Bud's Hut at an elevation of 11,300'. The hut is named after World War II soldier Bud Winter (1925-1945) who trained at nearby Camp Hale north of Leadville, CO and was part of an elite force trained for winter combat. Our group took about 3-4 hours to traverse the 6 snow covered miles and were greeted by a warm hut and endless hor d'oeuvres to satisfy our hungry bodies. Food was abundant with the holiday dinner complete with wine, conversation was lively, and as per the norm, the "boys" hit the front porch later that evening for cigars and scotch at 10 degrees!

Morning brought a quick snow squall, but the cabin was warm as breakfast burritos and cowboy coffee were brewing in the kitchen. Our group left at different times throughout the morning, but the comfort/beauty of the hut trip was a nice way to start the holiday season.

Merry Christmas friends and Climb On!

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