As you read this, I am probably knee-deep in powder in the backcountry outside of Aspen, CO. And you know why? Because it’s time for HUT TRIP 2K13!!
If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you may remember that a crew of my friends and I put together a hut trip every winter. This year is no exception! We logged onto the 10th Mountain Division’s website back in August and tried to find a hut that was still completely open (meaning all 16 beds were available.). I finally discovered McNamara Hut and booked it as fast as I could slide my credit card out of my wallet! None of us are members, so we are unable to participate in the lottery that occurs every spring. Instead, we have to wait till the fall to claim a hut that hasn’t been reserved during the lottery. Stressful, but it always works out!
The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association is a non-profit that manages an epic system of 34 huts that are spread throughout the Colorado backcountry. All of these huts are connected through 350 miles of trails that can be used in both the winter and the summer. In the warmer months, users can backpack or mountain bike to the huts. In the winter time, outdoor enthusiasts can slap on snowshoes or backcountry ski/boarding gear to carry themselves up the mountain. It’s physically demanding, but it’s always one of my favorite winter memories.
In the past, we have made the trek to Betty Bear, Margy’s, Harry Gates, and the Benedict Huts. All of them were insanely fun, but some of the hikes are more difficult than others. To this day, Betty Bear was still one of the most difficult backcountry experiences of my life! Most of the elevation gain is crammed into the last few miles of that hike, which definitely makes it tough when you’re slogging uphill with a heavy pack through knee-deep snow. However, it was our first hut trip and none of us knew what to expect. As a result, my pack weighed at least 65lbs because I was carrying both my alpine skis and my downhill boots on my back while trekking in on my snowshoes. What a nightmare!
Thankfully, we’re pros now and I am very excited for the McNamara Hut! We have an epic crew of 16 people coming from all over the country for this trip. Will flew in on Friday from San Diego, Steve drove in from Salt Lake, Patrick and Kayla drove up from Texas, Uncle Craig hopped over from Pennsylvania, and Brad, Nichole, and Katie flew in from Baltimore. Angel and Cindy are coming, per usual, along with my friends Peter and Heidi. My favorite part about the trip this year is that we have so many first-timers! Of the 16 of us, only 7 of us have been on a hut trip. Yes, that sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I think it makes it more fun!
I’m also super stoked to give my new backcountry ski setup a legit workout! It’s been tested here and there, but I’m psyched to try it out on today’s 6 mile skin in as well as tomorrow’s day of backcountry. Nothing like testing out new gear when you’re miles from home with no other option, right?!
Have you ever gone on a backcountry hut trip? Would you ever want to?
PS Apologizing ahead of time for the glaring copyright logos on my photos. Apparently a few of my blog photos have gone viral with quite a number of peeps using them internationally. Not a huge deal but I’m just trying to be safe rather than sorry (again).