My pictures for December
(sunsets and sunrises, mostly) and last week's hut trip
are online. I even made a Google Earth version
of the latter. (I could only get one picture to show on my Mac version of GE, but the same version on Vista showed everything. Let me know if you have trouble viewing pictures.)
The hut trip was awesome. It featured Stephen, Zane, Michelle, her parents, her brother, his girlfriend, their exchange student, and me. After three hours of New Years Eve sleep, I showed up at their house at 7 AM and we were at the Boreas Pass
trailhead outside Breckenridge by 9:15. After helping some clueless hippies get their car out of a snow bank, we started up the trail, half on snowshoes and half on cross-country skis. As a former narrow gauge train route, the path was never extreme, though at 6.2 miles we were dragging by the time we got to the end (about 3 PM, as I recall, meaning we averaged about a mile an hour). The waist straps on my backpack aren't tight enough on me to bear any weight, so I complained about the weight on my shoulders a lot on the way up and stopped several times to lie in the snow without any weight on my back. I wasn't very hungry on the trail, so by the end, I was starting to resent the food in my backpack -- "why did I bring the whole tub of peanut butter instead of a sandwich or two?!?!" But when we got inside Section House atop Boreas Pass and dried out by the fire while the wind howled around, everyone's appetite returned and we wolfed down the peanut butter in between sore muscle rubs.
Further verifying my theory that food tastes better when cooked and/or eaten at high altitude, we had a very tasty chicken and noodle dinner followed by activities like Fluxx, folk songs, and reading the cabin's log book (the high schoolers typically spotted a ghost). The people who stayed there on New Years Eve left two bottles of champagne for us (not wanting to carry them down, presumably). Despite the term "hut trip," Section House is pretty nice for being on top of the continental divide on a pass named for the North Wind. It's got electricity (from solar panels, I think), plenty of dishes, and a gas stove as well as an old-fashioned wood-burning cooking stove (which we didn't use). Water is provided by melting snow on the wood stove which gets really hot. The out house is one of the best I've seen in the states, featuring windows looking out over South Park and glow-in-the-dark toilet seats. The pit isn't perfectly sealed, so a potty trip in a wind storm features a pleasant sprinkling of snow on your bum. I totally want a glow-in-the-dark bum-spritzing toilet!
After waking up from a not-completely-comfortable sleep, we had an oatmeal breakfast to which I added fresh pomegranate seeds (another item I was glad I brought but annoyed I had to carry). With lighter packs, more sleep, and gravity in our favor, snowshoeing (or, for some folks, just walking) down took only three hours, followed by a tasty lunch in Frisco. Since I do most of my mountain adventures in the summer, I hadn't realized how bad ski traffic can be: merging from three lanes to two for the Eisenhower tunnel took an hour. We spent almost as much time in the car on the way home as we did walking down the mountain, but Colorado voters keep rejecting I-70 construction initiatives. Maybe we can get some fiscal stimulus money to come up with a good mass-transit-to-the-mountains setup.