My fourth annual hut trip with eight couples, and no children, was again, another laughter-filled, memorable weekend. Every summer, the 16 of us either hike, motorcrosse, or drive a pickup with food, beverages and essentials into the 10th Mountain Hut Division, outside Leadville.
If you are not familiar with the huts in Colorado, the name honors the men of 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. and now manages a system of 29 back country huts in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
All I know is every summer this is the trip I look forward to the most.
Our first stop is the Sunshine Café in Dillon the Friday morning of the anticipated weekend.
It begins here.
The uncontrollable laughter, stupid jokes, and the feeling I have re-entered my college days, and maybe even high school sometimes. Now remember, we are all responsible parents, professionals, and normal people, most of the time.
Because there had been confusion on the reservations, we had to divide into two groups at the restaurant, and it ended up women at one table, and the men at the other.
Coffee, breakfast burritos, and Bloody Mary’s cluttered the tables, and conversations were at a high level of excitement.
By the end of the breakfast, one of the women had tried shooting spit wads through her straw at the guys and the waitress was asked to guess what husband belonged to what wife, (she only got one right).
The weekend once again began in full force of silliness and friendly banter.
After breakfast we returned to our SUV’s and pickups for the 40 minute drive up the mountain to our favorite log cabin in the forest. Of course being responsible people, only the ones who had not partaken in the consumption of beverages became designated drivers.
Since I had been labeled the “live pest strip” last year, because my mosquito bites were the size of Oreo cookies, I began smothering insect repellent on, only to succumb to jokes and heckles.
“Stay away from Sample, she attracts all the bugs,” was one.
My husband drove his pickup into the hut, so I joined the hikers for the two mile trek into the hut.
“Be careful with those coolers,” one of my friends yelled. “Don’t let anything fall out.”
I think she was referring to the four wheeling adventure he was up against, but especially wanted all the adult beverages to remain intact.
Every year, each meal is coordinated. Each breakfast, lunch and dinner is partnered off with two couples to cook and clean-up. The water is not sanitized, so we have to bring plenty of it, along with bleach to wash the dishes. One group remembered paper plates, so that is on my list for next year. Cleaning up for 18 isn’t easy.
There was never a shortage of top-notch meals; eggs, bacon and fruit with homemade potatoes in the morning, cooked over a cast iron stove, for example.
We don’t know if it’s the mountain fresh air, or that you are feed like a king during this trip, but food has never tasted so good.
The hut has three wooden picnic tables in the kitchen, so each meal is a group activity. Some couples added wildflowers to their table settings. I thought it was a nice touch, until a bee joined us for dinner.
This year, an appetizer category was included to the list of meals. The couple prepared smoked hot sausage over the fire pit, and miniature bacon, lettuce and tomato hors d’ oeuvres over a pumper nickle cocktail bread.
The historic game of charades was changed from women against men, to a combination into two groups. The subject this year was ‘popular clique phrases’, such as, ‘Don’t count your chickens before they hatch’, kind of deal. It got vetoed though, after the ‘management team’ thought it was getting too competitive.
Fly fishing, and more hiking filled our days, along with hanging out in the hut, the girls playing dominoes, and later in the night, ‘texting’ scrabble.
Did I mention we resorted back to our high school days?
Snoring and late night trips to the outhouse were most of our activities after midnight. This year, the ‘management team’ brought up posters to designate which one belonged to the male gender, and which one belonged to the females. Ours had a Tinkerbelle poster on it, and a lilac fragrant air freshener inside.
Sitting around the bonfire, some of the ‘hut-sters’ brought their guitars and we all tried to sing along in tune, and call out favorite requests. I don’t think we finished an entire song, but we did sing songs with each of our female first names, mine of course, Michelle my belle. Others, Peggy Sue, Beth, and Help me Rhonda, transformed to Help me Rhondi, to name a few.
Saturday night consisted of wine at dinner, smoked pork with a berry jam sauce, and later blueberries and strawberries with whip crème. A meal that not only filled our tummies, but allowed for a restful slumber. Until one of the private bunk rooms group woke up and started laughing uncontrollably. There wasn’t any funny business going on, we learned over coffee in the morning, just some immature humor about noises in the night.
As a full-time working mom of three girls, I don’t get to see these friends as much as I would like. This weekend always brings my attention back to the appreciation I have of being myself with them, laughing, and acting silly, that is good for my soul.
I have never been much of a camper, hiker or outdoors person, preferring the beach life if I had my choice. But with this group I would sleep in a tent, in the rain, with mosquitoes any day.
I don’t even notice the pesky bugs any more because all I am thinking about is how lucky I am to have friends like these who I can laugh all weekend long with. And this year, I only got one mosquito bite.