Biff America: The sounds of love

My wife and I have done our fair share of sleeping around.

Huts, yurts, cabins, hostels, lodges — depending on where you are they are called by varying names. Generally, they are accessed on foot, bikes, or skis. We have visited huts in Canada, Europe, New Zealand and of course many in the United States. Often the sleeping arrangements are in a dormitory or a large bunk room.

Spending time in any communal living situation is like marrying into a family. You know what and who you love about the proposition, but what comes with the package can be a bit off-putting.

There are the snorers, sleep moaners and folks with thimble-sized bladders. But that can be remedied by ear plugs, eye shades or booking a hut with smaller rooms. Sometimes there is a person who is not comfortable letting cohabitation take its natural course but instead dictates kitchen, sauna, even outhouse rules and schedules. Personally, I usually welcome that intervention, though I would hate to be married to that person. And then there was that one hairy guy who insisted on sitting in the lotus position, naked in the sauna.

But in the vast minority, I’ve mostly enjoyed folks I’ve shared an outhouse with. Most often is the case that my mate, friends and I will rent out the entire hut so as to have the place to ourselves.

Years ago we booked the entire hut in the Grand Tetons that sleeps 12. But due to some folks having other obligations, only 8 showed up.

We met at the hut later in the day. We all had made a short lap or two on the way in so we sat around the table discussing our day. We were delighted knowing that we had the place to ourselves.

Then someone noticed the laminated placard on the wall, that said the hut sleeps 14, not 12. That meant that two more might show up.

Ten seconds later we looked out the window and we saw two folks wearing a combination of blaze orange and camo snowshoeing up the trail. One carried a pack large enough to contain a small goat.

I went out on the front deck to welcome them. As they approached, I could see one stout dude carrying the pack and one smaller gal; both looked dressed for elephant hunting.

Their names were Dave and Jenny, they were from Minnesota, and were on their honeymoon. Unasked, Ellie got up and moved our stuff out of the only two-person room and put it in Wes and Judd’s room which had four beds.

Jenny joined us at the big table as Dave reached into his pack, pulled out a bottle of Paddleford Creek bourbon, put it on the table and headed to their room to unpack. By the time he had returned, Jenny, neither shy with the booze or conversation, was pouring and chatting to all who were willing.

Dave worked on heavy equipment, Jenny taught school; both were avid hunters. They looked to be in their late 20s. This was their first hut trip, and they would leave in the morning and spend the rest of their honeymoon at a hotel. She added, ‘We wanted to try something different.’

After the sunset, we invited the couple to join us for stir fry, but they had brought Subway sandwiches and a small cake.

A couple of hours later, we had made a substantial dent in the bourbon, and Wes and I were finishing up on the dishes when the honeymooners retired; it was not yet 8 p.m.

Not long after, we all began brushing our teeth and getting ready to turn in. We soon heard odd sounds from the honeymoon suite.

It began with barely heard muffled words and quiet giggles.

Hoping to give them some privacy, we all headed to our respective rooms.

For about 10 minutes the sounds crescendoed. To be honest, the noise was anything but romantic. There were a few, ‘whoops,’ a couple of whistle sounds, like a tea kettle, and, I swear to God, elk bugling. Then silence.

I awoke at 7 a.m. and they were gone. Left on the table were a whistle, a half-eaten cake and one of those rubber tubes hunters use to tempt game.

Many of us who were at that hut still hang together. Then and now there are varied opinions of that night. Some think the couple was clueless. Others think they were showing off. I believe, with all my heart, there was no romance involved, but rather they decided to give us a gift of a story that would last forever.

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