So this was one way to start out the year. I had never been on a hut trip before, not even had skins on skis before. Why not try new things?
A friend of mine Chris and his lady friend, Rachael had invited me on a hut trip outside of Aspen. And another longtime friend from Denver, Karl, came up to join me. What a great way to start out the new year. 7+ miles and over 2500′ in elevation gain to a winter wonderland hangover. It took us a little to get started, and to let the night before sweat out of us.
Being up in the mountains, in the winter, may be the closest to solitude I’ve been, especially being with other people there. it is quiet and calm, peaceful and dangerous. The stars as we skinned into the hut were spectacular. Truly. I would have to remind myself when i was hunched over my ski poles to look up and see the creation out in from of me.
We skinned up to the newest hut in the 10th mountain division hut system, the Opa Taylor Hut. This place was beautiful. And amazing to see at 7 at night, with a fire in the wood burning stove, with warm miso soup. What a treat. We all had our own spaces as the hut slept 8 and fell asleep after catching and warming up by the stove. The attention to detail did not go unnoticed in this place. Large windows, plenty of spaces to dry out, the cleanliness from past stays, everything trimmed in pine, and the amount of effort it took to build this place up in the mountains
Thankyou Chris for coming out and route finding our way back, and Rachael for the exquisite meal.
The next morning we woke up to another beautiful Colorado sunrise over the mountains, with coffee and eggs to follow. Then it was sliding back into our ski gear and heading out where Chris and Rachael began to skin circles around us. Athletes and humble. We got to the pass and Karl and I decided to get our turns going down over a different saddle and into the valley we came from as Chris and Rachael skied on.
Needles to say, going down hill was much quicker than the day before. At one point after making a few turns we stopped and ate our cheese and pastrami, Karl worked on his ski poles with his rigged Ragu lid, (which worked great), it was easy to smile and feel the mountains around us, giving us a preverbal “good game”.
Skied the rest of the way down and made our way too the house, where we found the sofa and star wars, and a few blisters to take care of.
Opa Taylor Hut
Cold and windy up top.
2013 has been an incredible year. Completely Humbling. Full of growth. Full of lessons. Full of teaching. New beginnings, closures, chapters.It seemed fitting to head back to the desert to reflect and to meet up with my best friend, mentor and family, Bryant.
I hadn’t seen him since earlier in the year and Chaco canyon was a place that neither one of us had ever been.
I had left the mountains of Aspen, Co for the month and headed back to the Southwest. Driving to the Chaco Canyon Culture Site in New mexico through desolate wash board roads and canyons it was easy to remember why I love the desert. The rawness that surrounds you is nothing but that. Beautiful, harsh, dry, cold, bitter, stunning, windy, calm, sharp,soft, crisp, rugged. I could easily go on. Watching the rabbits or the coyote run out in front of you, or the raven swoop down to eye level. You feel apart of the Earth here and like you’re the only one here. I was not, and was definitely not the 1st. A thousand years ago the ancestral pueblo people had come to this canyon and settled in.
Throughout our trip there we were in awe and stunned by these people and this place.In awe of the fortitude and skill to develop such massive sites with walls three feet thick and towered above 3 stories high. The stones used were often no bigger than a coaster on your table to protect from the inevitable coffee stain. Thousands upon thousands of stones. Walls from multiple sites lined up to the degree in which they were facing the sun.
Stunned by the canyon, or at least the site selection for a place this massive to be built and homesteaded for over a thousand years. Low walls, little protection from wind, sun, the heat or the cold. The wind was chilling to the bone and I’m sure the heat in the sumer was blistering. Sites that were miles from water up on the canyon rim. Why? The Ancestral Puebloans were not lazy. They had to earn everything they needed and hold each other accountable to be successful. Here are as few photos from the journey.