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Tenth Mountain Division

Trip Report: Sampling Tenth Mountain Division Huts near Leadville & Breckenridge

Sampling the Tenth Mountain Division Huts in Breckenridge and Leadville Areas

by Sam Demas, December 2017

Want to experience some of the best winter ski/snowshoe huts in USA?  Spend a week experiencing the pleasures of some of the 34 huts in the nation’s premier winter hut system, the Tenth Mountain Division Huts Association.  The Breckenridge and Leadville regions are closer to Denver (than Aspen) and have some of the easiest huts to access.  

As an intermediate skier, but a beginner to true backcountry skiing, I spent a week visiting six of these splendid huts/cabins in the Breckenridge and Leadville areas.  After my skiing buddy Peter had to drop out, what was planned as a 4 night ski traverse turned into a series of one night stays at some of the more accessible huts in the region.  While not what originally planned, it was a great way to get a sense of the range of 10 MD huts and amenities, and to meet lots of people in the process.  To top it off Laurel joined me at the end of the week for a final night in the huts.  A fun climax to this hut trip was spending a glorious night glamping at the Tennessee Pass Ski Yurts and Cookhouse, where we enjoyed fine dining in the backcountry.  

It was a terrific hut2hut field trip!  I’ll definitely go back — in winter and in summer — to do some h2h traverses and to visit more of the 34 huts in the 10MD system.  If you like skiing and huts, these notes will help you plan your own winter hut trip.  Note: the navigation notes in this trip report are simply  to give a sense of the difficulty of navigation.  Be sure to use proper map, a compass, and the detailed guidebook discussed below for full navigation advice.  NB: See sections below on determining if you are ready for such a trip and for tips on  advance planning

Hut Amenities:  Briefly, the huts are self-service: you bring a sleeping bag, your food, and emergency gear.  Huts have beds and pillows, wood stoves and firewood, propane cook burners, pots and pans and utensils, and comfortable spaces for lounging. Water is from snow melt. See 10MD website for details and an equipment list.  

Trip itinerary:

Day 1:  Francies’ Cabin  –  Summit Huts Association, 11,390 ft.

Navigation: via Crystal Creek Trail from Spruce Creek Trailhead – 1.3 miles

65 minutes up, 40 minutes down on snowshoes, elevation gain 1,000’.  10th Mountain Map: Boreas Pass, USGS map Breckenridge.  Start at Spruce Creek Trail Head and at a fork within a few hundred yards you will choose: a. to ascend to the hut by bearing left at the fork for the Spruce Creek Trail (2 miles), or b. by bearing right to follow the Crystal Creek Trail (1.3 miles).  Trail corridor through woods is quite obvious and marked only occasionally with blue diamonds.

Francie’s Cabin, Summit Huts Association

Hut notes: Francie’s Cabin is very popular due to its proximity to Denver metro area and easy access from  the trailhead.  A beautifully designed log hut with 20 beds, Francie’s slept about 18 people the Friday night I was there.  Among the 3-4 different  groups sharing the hut experience, the hallmark was conviviality in friendly, elegantly designed spaces around the wood stove.  I was alone, but easily fell in with several different groups.  It’s all about conversation, cards/games, art materials for table-top drawings, and an opportunity to contribute to the log book.  Plenty of opportunities for snowshoeing, ski touring, skiing and snowboarding on the slopes and ridges behind the hut.  We saw moose by the cabin and mountain goats in the distance.  

Francie's Cabin

Frances Lockwood Bailey Portrait

The idea for a hut in Breckenridge was conceived in by local dentist and former mayor John Warner.  He and a group of friends was staying at the 10MD  Friends Hut (named for a group of friends who died in a private plane crash near Maroon Bells) and as he looked through an album documenting the conception and construction of that hut, he said, “Hey, we can do this!”.   After much planning and fundraising, the hut was built as a tribute to Francis Louise Lockwood  Bailey, a mother, friend, and graphic designer who died in a plane crash at age 36.  Francie was was described as “a gentle artistic and lovely person who never forgot the small things in life that mean so much.” 

****

After a comfortable night at Francie’s Cabin, I spent the following night in an AirBNB near Breckenridge.

Day 2: Ken’s Cabin, Summit Huts Association, 11,530 ft.

Navigation notes: via Boreas Pass Trailhead, 6.2 miles via Bakers Tank Trail, which meets up with Boreas Pass Road.  Took 4.6 hours to ski to Kens Cabin, and  about 2.5 hours to ski out the next day. Elevation gain 1,130 feet.  Going up to the cabin I took the more varied Bakers Tank Trail, which meets up with Boreas Pass Road at Bakers Tank.  Skins not necessary.  Skiing out all the way via Boreas Pass Road makes for a long gentle downhill all the way down.

Hut notes: Skiing up to Boreas Pass at the Continental Divide the mountain views in all directions are spectacular.  The often windy pass and has a reputation for cold conditions, and was named after the Greek god of the North, Boreas. The main trail follows the railroad bed of the South Park Highline, a 63 mile narrow-gauge railroad built to connect Denver to the mining and timber districts around Breckenridge and Leadville that operated from 1884 until about 1934.

Ken’s Cabin

Ken’s Cabin (1864) is one of a cluster of four historic buildings at Boreas Pass.  Owned by US Forest Service, Ken’s Cabin (built as Wagon Cabin) and Section House (1882) were built as living quarters for railroad workers and their families.  Through a unique public/private partnership, Ken’s and Section House are operated in winter by Summit Huts as ski huts, and in summer by USFS as an historic  interpretive center.   

Ken’s is a rustic, cozy log structure that sleeps 3, with a brass bed, a couch shelf, a wood stove, cooking area, and a table with three chairs.  The 3 solar powered light bulbs make for good reading and social ambiance at night.  The logbook is filled with appreciative references to its suitability as a romantic getaway or “love shack”.  

Section House (sleeps 12) is a delightful period structure that evokes the history of this lonely railroad outpost with a restoration that took place in mid-90’s, a great old wood kitchen stove, metal bunk beds. There are two pit toilets (in “John’s John”) with fabulous views out of the picture windows in each of the two throne rooms.

Dedicated to the memory of Ken Graff, MD, who died in an avalanche near Francie’s Cabin on the first weekend it was open.  Family and friends raised funds to restore this cabin for use as a ski hut in honor of Dr Graff, a beloved figure. Ken’s Cabin is a fitting memorial to a kind man and avid outdoorsman.   

****

Stayed in the comfortable, affordable and convenient Leadville Hostel the night before departing for Continental Divide Cabin.  The friendly lodging establishment, the highest hostel in USA, is the perfect place to rest and regroup between hut trips.  It has a fully-equipped kitchen, hot showers, wireless access, washer and dryer, interesting people, and ample spaces for lounging.  Hut groups coming from different places around the state and region frequently gather at the hostel in preparation for a hut trip, and then unwind there afterwards.  

****

Day 3: Continental Divide Cabin, 10,555 feet

Navigation notes: Start from Tennessee Pass Trailhead on East side of Rte. 24, near the Tenth Mountain Division Memorial (a must-see memorial to these influential soldiers).  An easy .8 miles ski in with 95’ elevation gain; 25 minutes. Follows the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail.

Hut notes: As the shortest and gentlest distance to ski in to any of the 10MD huts, this is a hut trip for families and for first-timers.   Built in 2007, this well designed log cabin (and its neighboring twin, Point Breeze Cabin built in 2011) sleep 8, are very nicely appointed and have a high level of amenities.  It is very comfortable,  with hand-crafted furniture and attractive furnishings, comfortable seating areas for lounging, rocking chairs around the stove, games, etc.  There are several food storage options, including a solar-operated refrigerated chest for summer use.  The covered breeze-way to access firewood and toilet is very convenient.

One Must Prepare, from The Analogue

Built by Lee Rimel, these two cabins seem to hit a sweet spot, and gave me the sense of seeing one strand of the future of hut development in USA.  They are artfully designed, very close to the trail-head, not far from Denver, offer great comfort, and are very family and kid friendly.  The snowmen and snow caves left by recent parties, along with the sleds and nearby kids fort and the tipi The atmosphere and signage clearly convey and ethos of caring, for the cabins and for those who will come after us. This is well expressed in the quote from Mount Analogue, a posthumously published novel by Rene Daumal that concerns and expedition to climb a mountain that unites heaven and earth. 

 

Day 4: Tenth Mountain Division Memorial Hut, 11,415 feet

Navigation notes: Skied from Continental Divide Cabin to Tenth Mountain Division Memorial Hut: 5.5 miles, 4 hours.  Elevation gain 1,150’, elevation loss 290’.  Well marked with blue diamonds and Colorado Trail signs, the trail follows the Colorado Trail.  There is a tricky section between the intersection with the Crane Park Trail and Lily Lake that requires extra attention to trail markers, map and compass.  There are many intersecting trails and roads in the area so care is needed to stay on the blue diamond trail to the hut.  Skins very helpful for last 1.5 mile ascent to hut.  On the return trip to Tennessee Pass Trailhead took Wurtz Ditch Road to the intersection with Crane Park Trail.  It seemed easier than making way through the dogwood thicket N. of Lily Lake.  2.75 hours return trip to Trailhead after a nice 3 “ dump of powder overnight.

Tenth Mountain Division Memorial Hut

Dining and sitting area

Hut notes: It is a pleasure to arrive at this high hut, perched near Continental Divide in a spectacular setting below Homestake Peak.  People frequently stay for several days and have access to a variety of ski terrain, can climb Homestead Peak for great views, and visit nearby Slide Lake. This large, well appointed hut sleeps 16 and is very well appointed, with a large kitchen and dining area, comfortable sitting areas, a library (put together with help from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies), games, and lots of log books.  The kitchen has a “Household Charm” cookstove (which I had no need to use), and the living area has a mighty “Defiance” wood stove that heats the living area quickly.  This two-story log hut is very well built and designed.  It is typical of the huts owned and operated by the Tenth Mountain Division itself.  

This hut is a memorial to the namesake of the hut system: the U.S. Army’s Tenth Mountain Division ski troops that trained just north of Tennessee Pass at nearby Camp Hale during much of World War II.   These mountain/ski troops were the first unit in US military history that were trained for mountain warfare.  They played an important role in several European battles during the war.  

During their training and service the men of the Tenth Mountain Division developed great cameraderie, and many came to love Colorado and to see is potential for recreational skiing.  After seeing first-hand the advanced recreational skiing infrastructure in Europe, many returned to Colorado (and elsewhere in U.S.) and became leaders in the post-war ski industry.  They brought a vision of large alpine ski areas and hut-to-hut systems to America.   Many provided leadership in founding and managing ski resorts; others became ski instructors, coaches and racers; some wrote about skiing and founded ski publications; and others became ski school directors.  Among this wave of enthusiasts for skiing was Fritz Benedict, a landscape architect in the Aspen area who inspired, along with others, the founding of the Tenth Mountain Division Hut Association and for whom the Benedict Hut is named. This memorial hut is graced with a number if interpretive plaques and posters, and is a great place to get a feel for the roots of this unique winter hut-to-hut system.  

****

Stayed another night in  the highly functional Leadville Hostel before meeting Laurel at Copper Mountain the next morning for final hut trip.

Day 5: Janet’s Cabin, 11,630 feet

Navigation notes: See Ohlrich book and Summit Huts web site for details on parking, shuttle to trailhead, and securing ski pass.  Started skiing from Westernmost ski lift (Kokomo) of the Copper Mountain Ski Resort, up along the edge of the ski slope.  This is the location of the Union Creek Trailhead.  One can take the lift up to gain about 800 feet of elevation.  Total ski in is 4.6 miles, much of it along the Colorado Trail, marked with blue diamonds.  Following the west side of second ski slope (above Kokomo lift), one turns right (West) on a marked trail leading off the slope and into the woods.  A pleasant ski through the woods leads to a bridge crossing Guller Cree, which drainage one follows most of the way to the hut.  After crossing the creek again to ski along the left side of the drainage, there is a final, really steep and strenuous   30 minute ascent to the hut.  Elevation gain of 1,390’ and loss of 410’.  The ascent took us 3.5 hours to the hut (we were running late and really moving) and 2.5 hours back down to Copper Mountain ski area.  

Herb’s Sauna, with helpful rope stair rail

Hut notes: It is hard work to get there, but the hut is rewarding.  In design, Janet’s Cabin is something of a twin to Francie’s Cabin.  Janet’s sleeps 14 and has a great mud room at the back entrance with cubbies to store boots and other gear.  Off the mud room are two indoor composting toilets.  The kitchen is well supplied and has ample stations for cooking and cleaning up.  The hut has a cozy feel and is kept warm with a centrally located wood stove.  As with most of the huts, the building retains much of the heat overnight and it is not necessary to keep the fire going all night.  The beautiful sauna building is close by, down a steep set of steps, but with a helpful rope handrail to aid in steadying wobbly legs.  Some skiers do a traverse to reach Janet’s from other huts such as Jackal and Shrine Mountain Inn.  There is great skiing (beware avalanche danger) near Janet’s near Searle Pass, on Elk Mountain, and on Sugarloaf Mountain.

Named for Janet White Tyler (1926 – 1988), this comfortable cabin is a memorial to a passionate skier and a woman of uncommon graciousness, exuberance, and joie de vivre.  As she was dying of cancer she approved the idea and location of a hut in her honor and we are lucky to benefit from the hut inspired by her spirit of hospitality and kindness.

 

Day 6: The Unique Tennessee Pass Sleep Yurts and Cookhouse!

Navigation notes: The Tennessee Pass Nordic Center is located across the parking lot from the Ski Cooper alpine ski center.  It is just up the road from Tennessee Pass Trailhead to the Continental Divide Cabin and the Tenth Mountain Division memorial hut.  From there it is an easy 25 minute ski in from Nordic Center to Cookhouse, and then another 10 minutes to the ski yurts.  The staff at the Nordic Center will lead you through the drill of parking, gear shuttle, reservations, etc.

Yurt notes:  As the climax if our hut trip, we treated ourselves to dinner at the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse and an overnight stay at their Sleep Yurts.  A common hut logbook lament that folks are not ready to return to “civilization”.  The backcountry Cookhouse and Ski Yurts are a truly  unique kind of half-way house in making the transition from the rustic simplicity of hut life back into the full set of conveniences and complexities of our ordinary lives.  Highly recommended!

For more detail, see my “Featured Yurt” post on Tennessee Pass Cookhouse and Sleep Yurts.

We treated this pricey indulgence (yes it’s glamping) as a fun culmination of our hut trip and a fond farewell (for now)  to the mountains.  The four ski yurts are elegant 20’ diameter yurts, each sleeping up to six people in a heavy timber queen-size bunk bed and a separate queen size bed.  The very comfortable beds all have cozy flannel sheets and luxurious down comforters.   There is a small kitchen set-up with cold running water in the sink.  The outhouse is close by.  Altogether a cozy atmosphere, with the “oculus” of the yurt ceiling always reminding you that you are in the woods and under mountain stars and skies.  The wood stove quickly warms up the hut and its fun to relax with a glass of wine in the warmth of the fire before the 6:00 dinner, a very short ski away in the Cookhouse.

The Tennessee Pass Cookhouse was born out of the observation of the owners that the picnic table they located along the trail at a spectacular view-point overlooking the Sawatch Mountains was a very popular lunch spot for skiers and hikers.  So why not build a backcountry restaurant on that spot?  The rest is history.  The menu has a “bounty of the woods” theme and the elegantly appointed 30’ diameter yurt offers fine dining in a rustic setting.   The service is friendly and efficient and the wine and beer selections are great.  Lunch is served Saturday and Sunday during winter.  This is a popular dining spot for family groups, couples and friend groups.  

Reservations are required and the place is very popular with folks from Denver as well as those in the Aspen, Leadville and Vail area.  

*****

Caveat: Backcountry ski trips are not to be taken lightly

If you are an experienced backcountry skier in the mountains, you can skip this section.  

If not, you should know that ski touring is a physically demanding and logistically serious undertaking.  It takes a higher level of skill than hiking and backpacking.  While there are short, easy routes to a few huts, most are 6-7 miles into the backcountry.  Winter hut trips require:

  • well honed safety, navigation (use of both map & compass and GPS), and skiing skills;
  • proper ski and outdoor equipment/gear;
  • an understanding of how to avoid altitude sickness;
  • a high level of fitness;
  • logistics of getting to and from trail-heads can be complicated; having a car or hiring a shuttle is essential; traverses require two cars and/or shuttles, or some hitch-hiking;
  • wayfinding experience in mountainous terrain (some of the trails are not intensively marked); and
  • gear and knowhow necessary to spend the night outdoors in case of emergency.   

To determine your readiness for such a trip, buy a copy of Warren Olrich’s 10th Mountain Hut Guide, 2nd ed., Peoples Press, 2011.  It has great introductory section covering the essentials of  trip planning, equipment selection, winter navigation, hut procedures, and safety and emergencies.  And the bulk of the book comprises clear and detailed information on the routes from the trail-head to the huts, between the huts, and getting to the trail-heads. It also indicates level of difficulty for each route.  Perusing this essential guide is the best way to determine your fitness for such a trip and to plan a series of safe hut visits.  

Advance planning:

  • Buy a copy of Warren Olrich’s 10th Mountain Hut Guide and use it to identify possible itineraries;
  • Visit the Tenth Mountain Division website for:
    • Detailed trip planning information, including videos;
    • Hut amenities;
    • Information on hut availability and booking (online or by phone);
    • Equipment lists;
    • Transportation options/shuttles;
    • Information on guides and outfitters;
  • Call Tenth Mountain Division reservations number to discuss your plans and ask for advice and recommendations.
  • Purchase relevant paper maps from Tenth Mountain Division; and
  • Download to a GPS app (e.g. Gaia, Hiking Project, National Geographic) the relevant maps.  Downloadable versions are available on the 10MD site.

 

Book Review: “Walks of a Lifetime: Extraordinary Hikes From Around the World”

Book Review: Walks of a Lifetime: Extraordinary Hikes From Around the World

by Robert and Martha Manning, Falcon Press, 2017.

Hurrah! Another elegant invitation from the Mannings to ordinary folks to try long distance walking!

Martha and Robert Manning on the Kumado Kodo Pilgrimage Walk, Japan, Courtesy Robert Manning

Walks of a Lifetime (2017), like the Manning’s first guidebook, Walking Distance (2013), alternates compelling descriptions of 30 exceptional walks around the world with brief essays on aspects of walking. With these intelligent companion volumes, Robert and Martha Manning are now firmly established as discerning and trusted guides to some of the world’s best walks.  Their approach goes way beyond your typical “trail guide”.

Essays in Walks of a Lifetime delightfully amplify themes in the walk chapters, connect the reader to the larger world of long distance walking, and inspire closer attention to the world we walk.  The 30 topics include trail angels, pilgrimage, urban walking, philanthropic walking, place, and the philosophy and ethics of walking.  The authors celebrate the joys of advance research, discuss how to prepare and how to enjoy serendipitous “misadventures” along the way, and offer advice on answering the inevitable question, “how long will it take?”.  Further, they explore the expanded field around walking by musing on ecotourism, health, walking as political statement, walking as art, and they contemplate the existential conundrum of journey vs. the destination.

Each walk portrait presents the sort of information that never goes out of date, for example natural and cultural history, land management context, weather and terrain.  Descriptions are useful, satisfying, but hardly exhaustive.  Instead, the reader will be stimulated toward further research, and to embrace walking as a process of life-long learning. Robert contributes knowledges honed by decades of research and teaching on national parks around the world, and he also provides hundreds of high quality photos.  Martha, an artist, speaks and writes as an astute observer full of practical advice.  Both husband and wife have an eye for natural beauty, topography, and unique landscape features.  They also share their infectious enjoyment of people, culture and cuisine.   Specifically, the walk descriptions include:

  • Orientation to the landscape and its natural history, including geology, wildlife, botany, weather, soils, bodies of water, etc.;
  • Cultural highlights of each area, including history, archaeology, museums, culinary traditions, agriculture, architecture, language, thermal baths, and local lore;
  • The context of the trail/traverse: how the trail came to be, how it operates, nearby and connecting trails, the challenges and unique features of the parks and natural areas it traverses, the broader trail system and walking culture of the nation/region in which it exists; and
  • Photographs that visually define each experience.

And, of course, practical information and advice is included:

  • Getting to the trail head and back, getting around in the region;
  • Availability of food, water, accommodations, bathrooms, campsites, etc.;
  • How to hike the trail in sections, other possible modifications, and adjacent trails;
  • Level of difficulty, type of terrain, safety considerations, and tips about gear;
  • Trail protocols (important do’s and don’ts) and environmental ethics.

In Walks of a Lifetime the authors expand our concept of long distance walking beyond hiking remote woods and tramping distant fields to include sauntering through some of the world’s most populous cities (Sydney, New York, Paris and San Francisco).  They also include a range of bucolic to backcountry walks in places like Arizona, Hawaii, Georgia, Utah, Colorado, Maine, N.H., China, France, New Zealand, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Scotland, England and Wales.  And they take us on treks in some of the most isolated locations in the USA such as Denali in Alaska, Havasu Canyon and Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness in Arizona, and Popo Agie Wilderness in Wyoming.

The Manning’s continued emphasis on long distance walks for ordinary people is a refreshing corrective to the current craze for “through hiking” on such trails as the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trail.  Such hikes, requiring months of time and almost superhuman effort, are not for ordinary people. This book is a tonic for the rest of us.  In fact, in Walks of a Lifetime, the Mannings offer even gentler and more accessible walks than in their previous guide.  They include four urban saunters, and also describe a higher proportion of domestic (U.S.) walks (seventeen) than in the 2013 volume (twelve).  As to level of difficulty, this latest guide includes seven walks of low challenge (compared with two in the previous book) and eight that are categorized as high challenge (compared with twelve in the previous book).

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, an Urban Walk, Courtesy Robert Manning

The latest volume is published by Falcon Press, a specialist in trail guides.  The earlier guide, published by Oregon State University Press includes an index, further reading suggestions at the end of each chapter, a bibliography, and a sprinkling of sparkling quotations throughout.  The Falcon Press publication omits these extras.  I missed these.

One quibble: the maps in Walks of a Lifetime are extremely rudimentary.  While providing the highly detailed topo maps necessary for walking the walk is clearly not within the scope of this guide, better maps would definitely aid in amplifying the author’s text and in supporting the walker’s planning.  Falcon Press is capable of doing better by its authors and readers.

Readers new to long distance walking will find themselves in good hands as they select a walk and plan for their first trip.  Experienced walkers will enjoy perusing the options shared by the well-travelled and insightful authors. Written with intelligence, grace and gentle humor, the Manning’s two guides are perfect gifts for friends and family.  Each volume effectively encourages new readers to get off the chair, take a long walk, and savor the wonders of nature and culture at a slow pace.  Both guides are also highly recommended for libraries serving communities with interest in outdoor recreation.

Sam Demas, October 2017

Trip Report: Three Sisters Backcountry Hut-to-Hut Ski

Trip Report: Three Sisters Backcountry Nordic Traverse

By Perrin Boyd

The Three Sisters Backcountry hut-to-hut ski traverse is a self-guided 22-mile trek from Dutchman Flat near Mt. Bachelor traveling the eastern edge of the Three Sisters Wilderness boundary to Three Creeks Snow Park outside Sisters, Oregon.  This great ski adventure involves three days of skiing with overnights in two comfy, fully stocked, self-service huts.

Six friends from Northfield, MN gathered the night before our trip for a feast and discussion of logistics. Kelly, Mike, Sofia and I now live in Bend, Oregon.  Sam Demas, researcher for hut2hut.info, invited us all on the trek along with his wife, Laurel.  It was an opportunity we could not pass up. Continue reading

Alta Via 1 (Italy) Trip Report

ALTA VIA 1

The route I’m about to describe is not the full Alta Via 1, but an adaptation to fit it in one full week. This route is also known by the name Alte Via Dell Adamello. It is a 8 day hike and 1 resting day, 9 days in total. It is possible to skip the resting day if you are fit.The route starts out easy and gets tougher every passing day. This helps the participants that aren’t that experienced in this terrain to prepare before getting into the heavy stuff. It is possible to do the route the other way around, although it might get a bit boring at the end. If I have to repeat the route I would do it again south to north. I walked this route in 2016 and it might not all be the same in a year’s time. Also a different time of year or different weather might make that you will experience this route completely different.  

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Island Trek in the Azores & Eco-Cottages

ISLAND TREK IN THE AZORES

“To awaken in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world” — Freya Stark

Island Trek in the AzoresI wake up to the sound of the surf — waves crashing on rocks somewhere outside my window.  As I come out of my dreamstate I remember that today is a day for walking.  Not just any walk at that — the Grand Route of Santa Maria Island in the Azores is in my sights for the next five days.  The “Grande Trilho Santa Maria” is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) of walking around the circumference of the island with a hike up over the highest peak on the island, Pico Alto, thrown in for good measure.

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Hut-to-Hut in Mallorca, Spain: trip report

{Note: this trip report contains many beautiful photographs.  Keep on scrolling as you enjoy them and you’ll come to more
of the text of the article interspersed among them.–Sam}

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

I love the idea of long-range hiking routes. Typically arranged to support multi-day itineraries, these kinds of routes let you go out and lose yourself on the trail (Note: not the same as getting lost). My latest look into the world of long-range hiking routes had me checking out Spain’s “GR” or Gran Recorrido routes. There are 13 GR routes in Spain and two of them, GR221 and GR222 are located on the island of Mallorca.

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Five Long Distance Walks in UK: Trip Report

Preview of Long Distance Walks

By Brian Tyler, AFIChemE, Cheshire, England

{Editors note: This 47 page report of five walks is from a family memoir by Brian Tyler, father of my friend Simon Tyler.  Brian – a truly peripatetic professor and chemist – estimates he has walked some 75,000 miles over his more than 80 years on earth, cycled at least 50,000 miles, and run about 4,600 miles. This chatty and informative chapter from his memoir details five walks taken between 1975 and 1999.  It gives a feel for each walk, provides useful information (though some is doubtless out-of-date)  and reveals his sharp eye for historical detail.  His photographs have a family album feel and add greatly to the text.  When I read this report I was enchanted by how it compellingly tells the story of one man’s long walks over time.  Brian kindly agreed to my request to include it on hut2hut.info as a unique example of how walking fits into a life well lived. – Sam Demas, October 2016}

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Yosemite High Sierra Camps Trip Report

Yosemite Camp CabinsYOSEMITE HIGH SIERRA CAMPS — AUGUST 2016

By Rachael Swift

I recently completed a 6 day, 5 night ranger-guided group hut-to-hut hike to four of the Yosemite High Sierra Camps.  I was accompanied by my husband Bill and our 23 year old son Tom. We started at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge and from there hiked to Sunrise, Merced Lake, Vogelsang, and then back to Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. We did not go to the camps at May Lake or Glen Aulin which I am now really looking forward to seeing at some future time.

Reservations are by lottery through the National Parks Service concessionaire website.

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Trip Report: Pilgrimage to Iona

By Hut2Hut Pilgrimage Editor Amanda Wagstaff

Iona-Abbey-View

View of the abbey complex on Iona © Amanda Wagstaff 2016

I arrived in Glasgow and immediately realized that I was overdressed. It was only the first of June, but a spell of cloudless summer weather had overtaken the west of Scotland. As I walked across town with my backpack, I could feel sweat dripping down my face and the beginnings of sunburn on my neck. I was a mess by the time I reached Queen Street Station.

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Trip Report: Kerry Way, Ireland

Trip Report: Kerry Way

May 2016

Overview: The Kerry Way affords beautiful coastal views, passes through upland moors and bucolic agricultural areas, and passes under Ireland’s highest mountain and one if its most spectacular mountains ranges, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. The full Kerry Way is 130 miles long, beginning at Killarney and proceeding inland towards Glenbeigh, after which the trail generally follows at a distance the shoreline of the Inervagh Peninsula and circles back to Killarney.  Walkers usually allow 9 or more days for the full walk, though it can be done more quickly by very strong walkers.   Having only four days for this walk, I cut out certain sections and hitch-hiked ahead to get a sense of the range of terrains covered.  This was a research trip so I stopped fairly often to talk with people who work on the trail.  The trail passes many villages and accommodations are plentiful. 

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