A Family Adventure

in the mountains, ocean, and air

Leaving Fowler-Hilliard

March 1, 2024
Emilie Phillips

All good vacations come to an end. Friday we had to leave. First, we enjoyed another breakfast in the company of the other skiers. There was a new pair the previous night. We got to chatting with one of them. She had booked the hut last minute because the winds were too high to fly elk monitoring flights. She was a pilot for fish and game, or something like that. After learning we owned a Bearhawk, she was curious to hear more. She was pleased to see another female pilot. Apparently early in her career, they were few and far between.

Seeing our gear sleds, some of the other skiers suggested we consider descending via the gradual snowmobile trails instead of the steep winding trail in McAllister Gulch. All the locals had opinions and suggestions and tried to be helpful. When we didn’t immediately make a decision, they piled on more information. I finally had to forcefully gather our group in a circle and exclude the others so we could decide. We didn’t need more information. We needed to decide would we all rather take the low key long way down, or deal with a bit more excitement in the trees. We all voted for the trees.

All this trip we hadn’t seen any wildlife other than birds. Finally on skiing up Resolution Narrows we heard pikas whistling. They were hard to see in the snow and rocks. We identified two brown rocks that changed shape. Later, when we paused at the trail junction down to Resolution Road, a hare ran out from the tree beside me, but only once I turned my back. Everyone else told me about it.

The glide out Resolution Mountain’s western slope was fun and easy. Wide open meadows. Just enough descent that you didn’t have to pole. But not so much that you even needed to do turns. Then we arrived at the top of McAllister Gulch. I usually insist that size and gender don’t matter. But for arresting a sled going down a steep hill, size and muscle do matter. Tyson and Benoît took the sleds for the descent. Over the last few days, other skiers had snow plowed the trail clear. Unencumbered by a sled, I discovered off trail between the trees still had untracked powder. It was tighter than the glades behind the hut. I had to whack a few bushes in places. Tyson and Benoît soon decided that, even with their wider turning radius, the braking action of the fresh powder in the trees was much easier to ski than the trail. From there on down, we spread out wide, keeping each other in sight. The middle of the group made sure to crisscross the trail so we wouldn’t lose it. I found one amazing clearing in the trees. It might have been an older reroute of the road/trail. It went straight down the hill for a long while and was wide enough for unobstructed turns. That was awesome. Near the bottom of the steep, I took the sled from Tyson. Tyson was hoping for better turns in the trees, but he missed the best terrain. Coming from the east coast, we found it odd that all the other skiers had stuck to the trail. I guess out west they are used to wide open glades?

The last 3 miles, we resumed an easy glide on and off the trail. There were a few annoying spots where the sun had made the snow inconsistently sticky, crusty, or soft powder. Farther down, the trail leveled out enough that folks without scales put on their runner skins. Somehow, Tyson managed to lose one of his skins without noticing until we sat down for lunch. Luckily the next group spotted it and brought it down.

That’s the end of our successful Colorado 10th mountain huts trip. We were down to the cars by 2pm. We had dinner together in Idaho Springs and then all went our separate ways.

Check out the rest of the 2024 Colorado Hut Skiing Trip posts.

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