Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rocky Mountain High, Colorado

The first week in February, I took a much needed week off from work to visit my family in my hometown Basalt, Colorado. This visit was a special one as my boyfriend, Mike, flew out from LA for the last half of the week to join us on a hut trip! Whenever I am able to get back home for enough time, a hut trip is always on the agenda. Something my Dad and sister, March, do once a month if possible, it is a unique and challenging way to enjoy the Colorado back country year round. There's a great article that was recently in the New York Times on the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, that covers one writer's experience going up in a blizzard. Last year, Dara, as well as our pals Josh and Carol, joined my family and I on trip up to Margy's Hut. This year, however, my Dad picked the Harry Gate's Hut, which is located at a lower altitude with a slightly shorter hike. Below is a shot I took from the airplane of the great Rocky Mountains, not the view from the hut... Oh what a sight!

A lot of times, while on a hut trip with my family, it feels as if we're a walking advertisement for Victorinox Swiss Army Apparel, thanks entirely to my fabulous Mom who designs technical outerwear for them. This is beyond awesome because their clothing is gorgeous, well made, and always under the tree for us at Christmas... Thanks Ma!

We usually split up all the food for the two nights stay amongst everyone going up to carry in their packs. This time however, in an effort to keep things light for us LA kids, my Dad took on most of the weight by pulling it up on a saucer sled, hitched to his waist by a harness! On the hike up we passed another traveler who was heading down that had his own unique sled set up. I'm definitely trying this method next time.

This is the view at the last 1/4 mile of the 6.9 mile hike, which is at the base of the final incline before you reach the hut. If you look closely in the second picture, you can barely make out the rooftop of the hut. What a beautiful sight that was when we finally reached the top!

Our first night there was all about warming up after the long, cold hike. We drank hot orange Gatorade (helps to calm any feelings of altitude sickness) and made yummy pizzas on pre-made flat bread. The next morning, March and Dad took off for a 10 mile round trip ski out to a possible location for the next hut they plan to build. My Mom, Mike and I stayed behind at the hut, to relax on the front deck and enjoy the day of rest.

I got antsy for some snow fun before the sun went down and noticed there was a seemingly excellent sled run just east of the hut that was covered in about a foot of snow. After a few hours of snow stomping and test runs, I had carved out a stellar jump for sledding! The video below says it all...

Gates Hut Sled Run from Haley Thompson on Vimeo.

One of my favorite things about hut trips is the time I get to spend with my family. I am constantly in awe of their athletic abilities, and the passion they have for the great outdoors. March, for example, is currently training for the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse, which is a 40 mile overnight cross country ski race that is only for the most hard core of athletes. Yeah, I'm pretty darned proud of my baby sis.

In the morning, after filling up on hearty breakfast burritos and hot cocoa, it was time to start the long hike down. Because Mike and I were both on snow shoes, I wanted to carry the inflatable sled down with us for the steeper hills. Or rather, Mike carried it down (always the gentleman) and we took turns reaping the benefits of the exhausting hike up two days earlier. It was such a blast!

Some inspiration I caught on the hike/sled down for our aspen tree shoes and tote bags!

After our adventure in the back country, we had a very special evening to prepare for. A dear family friend, Klaus Obermeyer, was to have dinner with us the last night Mike and I were in town. Much to my delight, Klaus brought the lovely Nome Obermeyer as his date, whom I hadn't seen since I was probably eight years old. Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures with her, but it was like a dream to reconnect with she and Klaus after almost twenty years!

Klaus is responsible for my parents move to Colorado over 30 years ago when he hired my mother to design for his ski wear company, Sport Obermeyer. Klaus's story is a truly remarkable one.

After dinner, March and I had fun playing dress-ups in some vintage Sport Obermeyer hats my Mom dug up for Klaus to see. When we posed with him to take the picture, he told my Mom to take her time while trying to get the shot! Such a charmer he is!

We took some family photos that last night (since it's rare we're all together, and dressed up for that matter) which ended up in our annual Valentines family newsletter. The cover my Dad designed is below. Many thanks to my amazing family for everything. Best time ever!

xo Haley

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