On day seven of my annual 14-day spring cleanse — the proverbial Wednesday of my planned toxin release — I am unable to ignore how delectable the giant peanut butter cookie looks on the guy’s plate next to me. In fact, the pinched brunette woman’s ciabatta sandwich on the table catty-corner literally makes me salivate each time I glance over. It’s the classic wanting what I can’t (by choice) have scenario — which at the moment is milk, dairy, grains (excepting quinoa), alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine! While alcohol takes a close second, I miss my coffee the very, very most. In fact, the smell of it percolating from the espresso machine within arm’s reach is nearly enough to send me into spasms.
So I’m in need of a distraction here at Whole Foods. Time to write! When I write, I get sucked into a parallel universe where I am unable to respond to anyone speaking to me in a timely matter. In addition, I make (according to Tyler) funny concentration faces and generally lose track of all time. And hopefully of the cheesy, sausage-infested pizza that just arrived across the table from me. Argh.
In the spirit of distraction, let me revisit our trip on Sunday, February 28th to Eiseman Hut, which roosts at 11,180′ and is the highest of the 10th Mountain Hut Division’s rented alpine abodes. From the deck (which badly needed an extensive shoveling), one could see Mount of the Holy Cross, the slopes of Vail and, farther west, all the way to the Flat Tops and Castle Peak.
But wait — we need to get there first. I came off a 15 hour work double the day before and very grateful for the presence of…
The only bummer: the tiny but powerful sign perched up the trail from Snowflake’s skids, announcing the start of non-motorized travel. In other words, time to start skinning — and much earlier than we’d anticipated. We spent a moment re-tooling (do we really need these portable speakers? Or this bottle of whipped cream?) and began our trudge. Not that we should complain; the others — without a substantial head start from Snowflake — had a seven mile skin up. AS (After Snowflake), we managed about four miles.
At the end of a largely flat slog, we made the right turn uphill to steep slopes and deep snow. Trail breaking became a bit of a nightmare, especially for yours tired truly, but at the end, the bright wood of Eiseman welcomed us to an evening of relaxation.
Legs and bodies, exhausted! But our job was done: we made it to the mountain top and there was nothing left to do but catch up with our friends Seth and Maria Elena (M.E.). And luckily, even though the hut appeared fully booked online (16 people total), there was serious attrition. We passed two fatigued young fellas on the way up who threw in the towel; in the end, only the four of us plus three other guys from Colorado Springs shared the spacious hut.
The next morning, it was hard to fathom we were at 11,000+ feet and not in the (mountainous) Caribbean somewhere. We slept in and ate a leisurely breakfast (another round of hut french toast and sausage with ample whipped cream from Sylva and Tyler). Sunlight flooded the deck, beckoning us out for a tour. All seven of us set out in stereo, going our separate ways once we gained the little ridge above the hut.
Then the oft inevitable section of removing our skis, strapping them to packs or carrying them and clambering about on rocks in our stiff plastic ski boots. In other words, “billy goating.” I really detest billy goating, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…
And then there’s the part where we realized a posse of snowmobilers had been poaching the very terrain we’d eyeballed excitedly on the map the night prior. I have nothing against snowmobilers; I’m married to one, I own a sled (O, lovely Snowflake) and someday, I endeavor to ride it and actually look like I know what I’m doing. But these fellas were braap-braaping around in terrain closed to snowmobilers — and not just meters past a sign, but way up a closed drainage. And they ruined our ski terrain, furthermore (boo hoo, first world problems). Nevertheless, there was still powder to be found…
Later on, once the buttery sun slid below the far off mountains, we prepared our meal for the group: chicken and vegetable curry. The group of guys — who’d trumped us last night with homemade lasagna baked in the kitchen’s antiquated stove — outdid themselves again. Not that we minded because they shared generously. Tonight’s masterpiece: chocolate bacon “cups” filled with cinnamon moonshine. Although the cups disintegrated in the antique oven, the tweaked results (a chocolate-bacon log which we covered in whipped cream and chased with cinnamon moonshine) were mouth-watering. They paired especially well with a couple of rounds of cribbage and Cards Against Humanity.
In the morning, we planned our egress over steel-cut oats (not the instant kind!) prepared by Seth and M.E., drenched in leftover raspberries from the day before, maple syrup, butter, chocolate and of course, whipped cream! We said goodbye to the guys (who were in for their third night) and picked our way down through trees and heavy, warmed snow to the road. After that it was smooth sailing on a groomed route all the way out. Tyler and I picked up Snowflake at the non-motorized boundary and we reconvened at the trusty ol’ Volvo.
After shuttling M.E. and Seth to their car at the Spraddle Creek trailhead, our journeys forked: we headed to Dillon, our friends to Fort Collins. We said goodbyes — until this Saturday, April 30, when we’ll meet them back in Fort Collins to help facilitate the annual ExperiencePlus! spring ride!
Well, the blog is over… what next? Back to what my buddy Graham — visiting from Anchorage, Alaska — called my “roots and tubers” diet. He’s not too far off… Anyway, last night we met him in Denver for happy hour (which for me, consisted of soda water with lime, mushroom tofu lettuce wraps and the toppings of a giant, new age California sushi roll). The boys sipped beer and ate BBQ chicken pizza, tacos with cheese-baked shells and nachos while I drooled, wanting a glass of wine and/or a martini more than I want Donald Trump to never, ever, ever become our next president. Ever.
Sigh. Somehow, I’ll have to make it to the next Cold Season Catch-up with nothing but herbal tea and spaghetti squash. In this episode, we’ll exhume what happens when Tyler (the Energizer Bunny), Sylva (tired as hell) and Marcus (Energizer Bunny’s twin) head up to the top of Buffalo Mountain (at 12,777′)? Stay tuned!