This weekend Jeff and I joined my friend Beth and a group of her coworkers for a Hut Trip. We stayed at the Fowler-Hilliard Hut which is located at 11,500’ about 6 miles west of Vail Pass in central Colorado.
The Fowler-Hilliart Hut is part of a system of backcountry huts in the Rocky Mountains connected by 350 miles of trails and is maintained by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association. The name honors the men of the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army who trained during WWII at Camp Hale for mountain climbing, Alpine and Nordic skiing, and cold-weather survival. Camp Hale was constructed in 1942 and when it was in full operation, housed approximately 15,000 soldiers. After 3 deployments, Camp Hale was decommissioned in November 1942 (you are welcome for the history lesson). The land is now maintained by the U.S. Forest Service.
We were lucky in that you could drive up the Forest Service roads to get to our hut. We still only took 1 truck to haul our gear and the rest of us hiked the 7+ miles. The hike started 9,300’ and ended at 11,500’ where we were staying (see above map for the location, the red line is our hiking route). It was a gradual uphill (much easier than last week’s run) and I sort of wish we were running it. But we walked to enjoy conversation and to get to know new friends who would also be staying at the hut. But when we got to the hut, I did head out for a 3 mile run at elevation to get in a sweat before drinking wine the remainder of the day.
The Fowler-Hillard Hut was ridiculously nice and has spectacular views! It has a capacity of 16 and was built in 2010 (a fire in 2008 took out the original hut). Our group reserved the entire hut so that we wouldn’t have other random hikers sharing our space. But a majority of the huts are booked on a per person basis so typically you never know who you will be sharing your hut with (this could be fun or really creepy).
We immediately settled into the hut and played dice (Yahtzee and Farkle) and card games while sipping on some classy boxed wine out of our plastic goblets. The was also pellet gun shooting and wood chopping (somehow it was turned into a manly wood chopping competition); before we knew it, it was dinner time and we started putting together our foil dinners.
The foil dinners were fantastic; chicken, steak, and every vegetable you could think of. Everyone made their own combination of the meats and veggies and had their own method for foil dinner folding. FYI, it was decided that the foil pocket method (NOT the burrito method) most evening cooked the dinners in the quickest time (as a few of us already knew).
The rest of the evening included more games of Farkle, drinking the rest of the boxed wine by the fire (I think everyone must have had at minimum 2 bottles of wine each, normal), S’Mores, and passing out. What a fun Saturday!!!
I woke up Sunday morning, enjoyed coffee on the deck, and read a book about Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division. We then packed up, cleaned the hut, and headed back down the mountain. Jeff and I decided to run it and got in 6 miles at an 8 min average pace (and hungover, I might add).
Another AWESOME weekend in the MOUNTAINS!!!! I definitely want to do another Hut Trip, especially in the winter to snowshoe, cross country ski, and backcountry ski. So much to do in the mountains, LOVE IT!