Quandary: Get to know the Summit Huts
Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.
What is a hut trip?
So you fancy yourself a mountain man? Well, a trip to the Summit Huts might be just the thing to test your mettle. The Summit Hut Association has four huts that are open for winter use from November through May.
A trip to the huts entails a trip back in time. You are giving up all of your creature comforts and embarking on a journey to test your skills, smarts and, most of all, heart. Each hut brings a different experience and challenge, and frankly, Old Quandary isn’t always betting on you. It’s awfully easy to go in expecting to look like Grizzly Adams, then turn out as bear bait. Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t try the adventure, but trust me and know what you’re getting into on this one.
The huts can provide an amazing experience that allows you to see yourself and your traveling partners in a whole different light. Again, know before you go. Deep in the mountains is not the place to find out your new girlfriend has never seen snow before, or that your brother has something he’s been meaning to tell you. Try to travel with people you know can handle the environment, and you won’t mind sitting around with when there is no other entertainment.
If you decide to head to the oldest hut in the system, Janet’s Cabin, you will be headed to a souped-up abode that sleeps 20 and sits far back from any roads. This cabin is so remote that supplies like firewood have to be dropped in by helicopter, but it’s easy enough to access that it is a good spot for beginners, families and the lazy — if such a thing exists in the backcountry.
The cherry on top? There’s a sauna to heal those weary muscles after your hard day trekking the 5.5 miles in. While this modern-day mountain getaway does include solar-powered lights, that’s about as fancy as you’re going to get. As a general rule, if you can’t pack it in, you can live without it. Yes, this means you will be trekking in with a pack weighing at least 30 pounds. The same is true for the other cabins, as well.
Francie’s Cabin is the most coveted cabin in Colorado and also includes a sauna. With a couple different potential routes to navigate, this trip can take you 1.7 miles via Spruce Creek, or 4.7 miles if you prefer to go the way of the donkey via Burro Trail.
Ken’s Cabin and the Section House will give you the longest trip, with distances of around 7 miles for Ken’s and 5-7 for the Section House, depending on your trail choice. They will also provide the more rustic living quarters — aka the toilets are outdoors.
Still, for all the trials and tribulations you’ll face on a hut trip, there’s the awesome feeling of having done it. Living strictly off what you and your friends are capable of accomplishing in such a remote area is surely a great source of pride. Learn about yourself, learn about your buddies, learn about the land — just don’t invite Jack Nicholson.
For more information on Summit’s huts, including suggested equipment lists and detailed information on the terrain visit SummitHuts.org or call (970) 453-8583.
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