We’re always game for a hut trip. Early season, late spring, summer, holidays… there’s never a bad time to head out on one of these adventures.
Thanksgiving is no exception. Sure, some people don’t think it’s practical to arrange a Thanksgiving dinner at these hard to reach cabins. At least not one that’s on par with the feast you may be accustomed to at home. We insist that it really isn’t that tough to do. It’s easy to cook at the huts, and a lot of food can be prepped in advance. There’s enough room to invite a full table of friends and as anyone who has ever partaken can attest, everything tastes better when you’re out in the woods.
That’s not all. Thanksgiving weekend is when many ski areas in Colorado open for the first time, and while opening day skiing can be fun, conditions on some years leave much to be desired. It’s fun to take a few obligatory runs on the hill to usher in a new season. But it’s rare that conditions are that spectacular that you’d really be missing out on anything if you weren’t around. And that was the case this year. Opening Day on Aspen saw a lot of people crammed on a couple of groomed strips of snow. So it was actually a perfect day to be somewhere else.
And so in a twist to the “earn your turns” philosophy, we figured we would spend a few hours hauling our own holiday into one of these huts, in an “earn our dinner” kind of way.
This year we booked the Barnard Hut, in the Braun Hut system outside of Aspen. This hut is unique in that it isn’t accessed from a low trailhead like so many others. The route to the hut starts from the top of Aspen Mountain. So the adventure actually begins with a 15 minute gondola ride to the 11,200 foot summit of the ski area. From there it’s a seven mile rolling skin along the Richmond Ridge jeep road to the hut.
That worked out really well for us because it’s been a very lean year so far in terms of snowfall. The high starting elevation meant we could be on the snow the entire time and we wouldn’t have to walk on any dry trail at all. The consistent snow cover was appreciated, because this year Christy insisted on hauling a whole, just-out-of-the-oven turkey into the hut on a sled.
So seven of us loaded the gondola with our skis, backpacks, and one sled with a whole cooked turkey strapped to it and headed out to Barnard Hut. What a way to spend Thanksgiving!