11 miles in – why I feel sorry for all the tourists at Breckenridge last weekend

From 2008-3 Skinne…

We’ve done this trek before – the 11 mile uphill ski into the Skinner Hut, one of Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Huts. Skinner is just outside of Leadville, CO, a small mountain town that sits at 10,200 ft elevation. This town is so cute in the winter, with its old victorian architecture, brick buildings, and snow packed up to the windows of most of the homes. (Yet we were reminded that this town is ONLY cute in the winter, as the snow covers the “sanford and son” yards full of old tires, engines, trash, and other disposables. Hey, Salvation Army – it’s a goldmine up there!

11 miles really isn’t that bad on skis. The first 7 miles or so are pretty rolling, along a road that cuddles between Turquoise Lake and the forest. After that, the trail heads straight up. For an elevation gain of close to 2000 ft in about 3 or 4 miles. There are some spots, although short lived, that are so steep they challenge the skins on the bottom of your skis. But the steepness makes it possible to wear only a long sleeve shirt even though it’s only 20 degrees outside. And the alternating snow, sun, snow, sun surrounded by the pines and huge mountains, I remember why I love this state.

Skinner Hut itself is well equipped with a raging wood burning stove to heat the hut, a second wood burning stove to cook on, and well if that isn’t enough, four propane burners. There is also a cistern pump to wash your dishes, pots, and pans (also provided by the hut). And the mattress that I slept on was actually more comfortable than the hotel’s in Leadville (or maybe I was just so exhausted that I fell asleep as I was laying down).

From 2008-3 Skinne…

The downsides of the weekend were few:
1 – Both my big toes are black and blue and swollen. Pretty sure I won’t be keeping those toenails!
2 – Constantine – a Russian guy that was up with his friend Matt. His sense of humor was, shall we say, caustic? Hey Constantine – we changed your name to ConstantJERK.
3 – My own head! Our one ski day was very epic, extremely stable, but deep, creamy, untracked snow under blue skies. Yet I was very unnecessarily freaked out by avalanches that I just couldn’t relax enough to enjoy myself. Factor that in with my toes, and crappy, hindering skins, and I was a head case. Damn head!

But the snow and the conditions were truly epic. It was one of those weekends, great weather, fabulous company, unbelievable skiing, one of those weekends where you just have to say thanks.  See for yourself…

From 2008-3 Skinne…
From 2008-3 Skinne…
From 2008-3 Skinne…