A few weeks ago, I went on a hut trip. I’ve never been on a trip like this, had heard about them and thought it would be fun. Now, I happen to know people who do this every year and I thought, why not have a girls weekend doing something quintessentially Coloradoan? In the winter, it turns out that this is a serious backpacking endeavor. The snowshoe in is 7 miles long, and you have to carry everything except the kitchen sink (and dishes) Everything else goes on your back. In my case, it was 35 pounds of gear, clothes, food, meds, everything I would need for 2 nights in the remote wilderness.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, I planned on snowshoeing at high altitude every weekend to get ready and in shape. Lofty goal as it turns out as I managed exactly 2 snowshoes and one hike. As our departure date approached, I grew more anxious knowing that I only had whatever conditioning I had built up in the gym to rely on getting me through the trek. By the time I had to pack and meet my friends, I was wishing for a blizzard that would keep us home, and keep me from certain failure. Unfortunately, we are not that lucky here in CO this year, and the day dawned sunny and unseasonably warm. I packed up my gear and headed to my friend’s house with trepidation. We drove to Carbondale with a few others, and the whole way up I got pep talk after pep talk.
See, despite growing up at high altitude, it kicks my ass every single time. Any hike starting at 9,000 ft is guaranteed to see a Geochick dragging along at a snails pace while people 20 years older than me practically run by me on the trail. This hike starts at 9,000 ft, finishes at 11,000 ft and over 7 miles, the last 2 miles contains 1,000 ft of the 2,000ft total of elevation gain.
After spending the night in a hotel, re-packing my backpack on the advice of my friends, shedding another pound or two, the next day, we started the hike on a blue sky sunny day where the sun, sometimes a friend, began to turn into our foe, relentlessly beating down on the first 5 miles of road making me sweat buckets under my heavy pack.
Once we got to the final 2 mile hill, I welcomed the chance to dive into the forest for some coolness. The steepness of the switchbacks slowed us all down, saving the mountain goats of the group, and we slogged on, one foot in front of the other, stopping every 5 or so steps to catch our breath.
Finally, after 5 hours, we made it, exhausted, hot, and sweaty, and treated to these views
It was totally worth it.