Saturday, August 11, 2012

10th Mountain Hut Trip

As always, we had a good time on our annual 10th Mountain Hut volunteer weekend.  This year we worked on the Fowler/Hilliard Hut which is at 11,500', just six miles West of Vail Pass.  In fact, in the distance we could see Vail's Two Elks Lodge that sits on the edge of the trail that takes you to my personal favorite, Blue Sky Basin.  The original hut, built in 1988, was struck by lightening and burned down in September 2009.  It was rebuilt during the summer of 2010.
One of the many projects this year was to build a wood walkway between the main hut and the outhouse. 
Every morning there was at least one of three horses eating just outside the hut.  A sheep herder, who's family has been herding for generations, stayed in a trailer several hundred yards away, and used the horses to check on his 1500 head of sheep several times a day.
On our second day, we decided to take an early morning hike prior to the start of our days' tasks, in search of the sheep
The vistas were beautiful and well worth the early rise.  We heard the sheep long before we could see them.  Looking down on them, still from far away, I realized the need for the horses.
In the afternoon, a lightening filled hail storm rolled in which halted all outdoor progress.  Good thing there was still plenty of indoor work to be done.  Fortunately, the construction on the walk path was finished, but sealing it had to wait until the following day so the wood could dry.  The storm also stopped work for the group that had taken chainsaws and a log splitter half a mile down the mountain to help stock the wood closet for winter.  At least we had one truck load, but that won't be enough to get through a winter using both the cast iron wood burning stove and wood burning heater.
The 10th Mountain Hut System has a Summer Internship Program for young people who want the opportunity to learn about Colorado’s back country and the system of remote huts.  During those two months the interns spend most of their time working in the field for the 10th Mountain.  They are shown all phases of operations and receive $350 a week.  At dinner one night, we offered the three interns some pulled pork.  The delight on each face was priceless.
The days were filled with endless cleaning, washing, sanding, varnishing, building and restocking.  These huts get a once a year spruce up that will ready them for the busy winter usage.  When the hut was rebuilt, stainless steel counter tops were put in the kitchen; great for wear and tear and easy to clean.  Bob is putting on the finishing touches near the outhouse before we head home.
It was another fun weekend of working together for a good cause.
To learn more about the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association go to their website @

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