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Summit Hut Trip, August 29-September 2, 2013

Thu, 2013-08-29
Felicia Orth and Evan Rose

Note: trip difficult will be between beginner and advanced, depending on the day trips one chooses.
The seventh annual summer weekend trip to a Mountain Hut will be to Francie’s Cabin, August 30- September 2, 2013 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights).  We will pack up and return to Los Alamos on Monday, the 2nd of September (Labor Day holiday).  This Summit Association Hut, at 11,264 ft, is near timberline in the Arapaho National Forest, in central Colorado, 5 miles southwest of Breckenridge. The area offers many opportunities to hike at various difficulty levels.  We are near Burro and Spruce Creek Trailheads.  Nearby climbs include a 14er, Quandary Peak, and 2 high 13ers, Crystal Peak and Pacific Peak. Bring fishing equipment if you like trout.  This will be the first summer visit by the Mountaineers to this Hut.
As in previous years, we will drive up the day before, on August 29, and stay overnight.  It is TBD whether we will stay in Breckenridge or Leadville.  A group dinner is planned for those who are in town by dinner time on August 29.  Participants meet at the appointed location at 9:00 AM on August 30, and carpool to the trailhead parking lot, on the road up to the Hut.  One or more 4x4 cars/trucks will drive to the Hut with the coolers and heavy items. The rest of us will hike to the hut with daypacks.  
Francie’s Cabin sleeps 20 in several different bedrooms, has a wood-burning sauna, and is fully equipped with propane cooking stoves, cooking and eating equipment, photovoltaic lighting, etc.  Participants cook communal breakfasts and dinners, and provide their own lunches.  Felicia and Evan will have a planning dinner meeting in mid-August to finalize details of the trip.
Six places for next September's trip have already been spoken for, so fourteen places remain. You may e-mail your interest in joining us next year to Felicia (see above) with a cc to Bill (  The cost this year is $115/person to cover the cabin.  Checks can be sent to Bill Priedhorsky at 380 Rim Road, Los Alamos, NM 87544, made out to Bill Priedhorsky/Canyon Adventures. Your reservation is made when your check is in Bill’s hand.  After filling the trip we will maintain a standby list to accommodate cancellations. In case of cancellation, refunds will be made when the spot is filled.  Let us know if you would like to join us next Labor Day weekend. We're looking forward to another great Hut trip!
Sincerely, Felicia, Evan, and Bill


Trip Report
   Labor Day Weekend (August 29 - September 2) to Francie's Cabin.  Trip Leader - Felicia Orth with help from Bill Priedhorsky and Evan Rose.  Report by Evan Rose
   Francie's Cabin is a Summit Hut ski lodge just a few miles south of Breckenridge, CO. []‎ It is highly popular because of its easy access to Interstate 70 and the Denver metropolitan area. 
   The cabin is a substantial two-story building at 11,360 feet.  It has beds for 20.  We reserved them all on October 1, 2012, and ended up with 17 people in our group.  The six bedrooms have a mix of bunkbeds and single beds, with four rooms for four people and two rooms for two people.  There are two indoor composting toilets that smell only of wood shavings.  There is a full kitchen that runs on propane.  Cookware and table settings are provided.  Water is available from a clear stream about 20 yards north of the cabin.  We filtered our water - running three filter systems in parallel.  There is a wood fired sauna in a separate building.  Some of us used the sauna each night.
   The group met a couple of weeks before Labor Day for a planning dinner and presentation by Felicia.  Everybody was assigned a meal (breakfast or dinner) to cook.  Lunch was on your own.  Cleanup duty was assigned to the crew that was scheduled to cook next.  Dietary restrictions were discussed.  Menus were published in advance.  Everybody got a packet that described Francie's Cabin with maps included.  The system worked very well.
   Francie's has some access issues.  There are two roads that lead to the cabin.  Each has restrictions for hikers, horses, motorcycles, high clearance vehicles, etc.  Each also has a set of gates - some open, some locked.  All gates can be opened by manipulating the chains and some lifting.  The Summit Hut personnel and on-line resources were not much help.  The direct route is rocky and STEEP, the other route ambiguously marked and blocked by tricky gates.  The upshot is that all high clearance vehicles were able to make it to the cabin, by a combination of routes, in the course of the three-night visit.
   Nobody had been to the cabin, so I scouted the area on August 27 and 28.  I found five women from a Santa Fe hiking club staying at the cabin.  We compared notes over the next two days and shared some meals and tasks.  The women, some of whom are in their seventies, hiked a nearby mountain named Peak 10 at 13,600 feet.
    I scouted Mohawk Lake.  It is a day hike of six or seven hours, under ten miles round trip.  It features some nice little lakes at the bottom, followed by a hike up switchbacks that parallel a beautiful set of waterfalls.  The waterfalls can be viewed by accessing side trails off the switchbacks.  Each view is interesting and different from the others.  The majority of our group hiked to Mohawk Lake on Saturday, our first full day at the cabin.
   If you are adventuresome, you can hike to an upper Mohawk Lake and beyond.  I did some bushwacking, which revealed some stark relief off the trail and the remains of considerable mining activity from the past, including some unmarked pits.  It's not a great option for solo hiking.
   Most of our group spent Thursday night in hotels in Breckenridge.  Breckenridge is more precious and pricey than Leadville.  Our standard routine for Hut Trips is to drive on Thursday (Day 0) and meet for breakfast on Friday (Day 1) to organize.  Then we drive gear to the cabin, while many people hike in with small daypacks.
   Day 1 was a light duty afternoon trip to Crystal Lake, about one mile distant and 600 feet higher than the cabin.  Five people in our group did some fishing there.
   Day 2 was our moderate hike to Mohawk Lake.  Some people stayed at the cabin.  Others remained at the lower elevations of the falls.  Most climbed to Mohawk Lake for lunch and another chance to fish.
   Day 3 was our trip to Quandary Peak (14,265 feet).  Sunday is our 14-er day, because we’ve had since Thursday to acclimate to the altitude.  Four of us went on this trip.  It's a simple three mile climb of 3,400 feet elevation gain less than a ten mile drive from the cabin.  The mountain was crowded on this Sunday before Labor Day.  I counted over 100 people ahead of us on the two miles of trail above treeline.  Everybody was in a good mood.  There were even birthday celebrations at the peak.  Views are good above treeline - lakes, mountains, sky - the usual delightful 14-er experience in good weather.  Our group had three newbies – their first 14-er ascents.  Congratulations to Melanee and David Hand and to Jill Holbert.
  Those who did not climb Quandary had fun fishing or taking short hikes around the cabin or just enjoying a last summer day in the mountains.
   Day 4 was our departure.  We packed up and headed home.  Seventeen happy and healthy people had a nice experience that fit their individual need for adventure.

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