Francie's Cabin February 18-21, 2011

Some friends of ours go on a "Hut Trip" every year to one of the Colorado 10th Mountain Division huts. They put their name in for the lottery draw for one of the huts. Neither of us (Bob and Sue) had ever been on one of these hut trips before. This year Bob was chatting with Doug and we were invited along. It sounded like a lot of fun. We have been hearing about them for years and always wanted to go. Doug has been going on hut trips for 18 years and organized the trip this year.

This year the lottery win is Francie's Hut, one of the nicer huts near Breckenridge. This hut is "cushy" because it has indoor toilets (composting) and because the trip in is very short - either 1 steep mile or 2 shallow miles. Some huts are 6+ miles in, which severely limits what you can bring in. Francie's is short enough that some folks did multiple trips in from the trailhead, to haul more in. Francie's hut sleeps 20, in 6 bedrooms of bunk beds. And this is a 3-day weekend so plan was to go up Friday and stay Fri-Sat-Sun nights, return Monday.

Bob and Sue had never been on a hut trip, and of course brought too much of everything (you know the usual post-trip review - "next time bring half the clothes and twice the money" :-) Fortunately Bob has been putting together a sled for snow caving trips to help haul everything uphill so most of the weight went onto the sled. The sled was $10 from Ace Hardware, plus a couple bucks at Home Depot for PVC pipe for poles, drill some holes in the sled and poles, and rope to tie it all together. A couple hours work, and *poof* a nice sled and it worked out great. It needs runners to track better, but hey for less than $20 not bad. Professional sleds (like what ski patrol and SAR use) are many hundreds of $.

The trip was pretty cool, great people, great cabin. Unfortunately due to lack of sleep and lack of hydration Sue was miserable with altitude sickness. That was unusual because we have both been up to altitude many times before and it hasn't been a problem previously. Next time more sleep before the trip! The snow conditions weren't actually that great (crusty wind-blown on top, peanut butter below) and wind was pretty strong so Bob was pretty happy to stay in the hut in a vegetative state Saturday. Because of the altitude sickness we decided to head down the hill a day early and came home Sunday afternoon instead of Monday morning. After getting down the hill Sue felt a lot better.

Thanks to Doug the trip captain for inviting us, and huge thanks to Sunday night dinner staff (Doug, Ed, Libby) and Barb and others who pitched in to help with Sunday night dinner when Sue and Bob and Alan departed early Sun afternoon instead of staying through Monday.

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  Leaving the parking lot Friday afternoon (lots of space in the parking lot), Bob pulls the home-made sled. Alan also pulls a sled, a "saucer" sled, $5 from Walmart in Frisco. Sue tries pulling the sled, made it about half a mile with both a heavy pack and the sled before giving it back to Bob who pulled it the remaining 1.5 miles uphill. On a portion of trail that sloped a lot sideways, Alan's saucer sled slid downhill off-trail and yanked him off balance. He extricated himself without assistance, just to be sure he could.

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  Notice the tiny tree keeping his pack (and sled) from sliding downhill. Quite a slope. Now, how to keep that from happening again? First night up at the hut - Sue, Eric, Doug (trip leader). Sue and Eric in down booties, Doug in shorts... wildly varying body temps! Clothes and ski skins hang over the wood stove, drying.

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  Gin Rummie, guac dip, yum! Good times with good friends. Kitchen has plenty of cookery and 6 propane burners to cook on. Ski boots drying by the wood stove. Alan came back from firing up the sauna.

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  Five cooks a'cooking. Lots of color. Amanada and Mark hang out in the window seat. Chris cooking.

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  Paul and Karen - dueling e-book readers. Libby and Ed. Margaritas. Sarah's chicken burrito. All the fixin's including fresh cilantro!

  Downhill on Sunday, saucer sled tracked ok behind Alan so long as he didn't slow down.

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