Not long after moving to Colorado Jeb and I first learned about the 10th Mountain Division system of huts. They are basically semi primitive (but very nice looking) backcountry cabins that are all throughout the mountains of Colorado.
Getting a reservation at the huts is pretty competitive (especially in the winter) and involves a lottery system and online reservations (for the leftover dates). We booked a hut in the winter in January 2017 to go on our first ever hut trip. We were all excited to rent backcountry skis and skin up to the hut and then ski back the next day. Unfortunately a really bad storm came in and dumped tons of snow in the area. The avalanche danger was hovering between a 4-5 (on a 1-5 scale). We hadn’t taken any avalanche training, and we didn’t have avalanche gear yet, so despite the rental and reservation we took the safe route and canceled our trip.
So since we couldn’t go then we decided to book a summer hut to at least check them out in the summer without the difficulties of snow travel or the potential avalanche danger to worry about. We got a reservation at Janet’s hut. This hut is on the eastern side of the hut network, because you actually leave from Copper Mountain to start the hike there.
Our hut even had a wood burning sauna (that Jeb is standing in front of)! I’ll bet in the winter the sauna is a very popular place to be!
The nice part about the huts is that they have beds and heat, so you don’t need to bring tents, sleeping pads, or very heavy sleeping bags. You also don’t need to bring stoves to cook with or fuel. So it is kind of like backpacking, but it ends up being a much lighter load (especially in the summer without all the heavy winter gear).
One of my favorite parts of the hut system is that every hut is unique looking in its architecture, and each has a pretty awesome mountain cabin style! One of the huts is even a stone hut, after the original wood one burnt down in a summer from a lightning bolt.
We went to the hut in July so we were right in the middle of wildflower season. Most of the huts sleep around 14 people. So unless you are traveling with a large group and book the whole place, you end up sharing the space with other people. Not that the people we were with were bad or anything, but we tend to like our privacy a lot (especially from strangers) so this aspect was odd to me, and probably my least favorite part. I would definitely like to go back to a hut someday but it would be nice to have at least a little bit larger of a group to go with.
Nice and sweaty from the (fairly) long hike up to the hut! All of the huts vary in terms of mileage and elevation gain to get to them. Some are less than a mile and others are more than 10 miles. Ours was kind of in between, in terms of mileage and elevation gain.
Here is a look into our sleeping situation. Jeb and I took the two lower bunks that were right up next to each other. The rooms had solar powered lights in them that were on a timer.
This was the sitting/eating area near the kitchen.
Here is the view from the next morning. Jeb and I didn’t sleep very well -for some reason I had a hard time sleeping in the same room with so many strangers. I’m not sure why considering we did this with people on Rainier. But on Rainier there was much more of a sense of camaraderie and a “we’re in this together” type of feeling. So those people were our Rainier Family, more than true strangers.
We left super early I think by about 6am since we didn’t sleep well and figured we could just go home and nap in our own beds! We were gone from the hut before anyone else even woke up lol.
I’ll bet this is even prettier in the winter!
We’d love to do another one of these trips someday but we need to make some more good friends first!