Trip Report: Uncle Bud's Hut, 2006
Backcountry Hut Skiing
I created this trip report page four years after the trip. It is meant to serve more as a resource for future trips to Uncle Bud's Hut rather than a report of our trip in 2006. See the sidebar for hut info, gear and food lists, maps, and guidebook excerpts. I have no pictures from this trip for reasons that will be explained below.
When we started out, we had a group of seven. About 3 1/2 miles up the trail, just before the point where the trail to the hut turns off the road around Turquoise Reservoir and heads northwest, one couple in our group decided they had enough hiking on skis. I made an error in judgment offering to guide two beginners to the hut without assessing their abilities well enough. Following what I learned from Donny Shefchik, field director at Paragon Guides, I took them to Arrowhead Ski Area the day before the hut trip, taught them the basics, and tried to assess their abilities.
I suspect part of the problem is that the guy skied too hard at the resort and went at a very fast pace on our tour at Arrowhead. He may have wiped out his legs before starting the hut trip. The woman was dogged by blisters from her rental boots. Despite my cautions before, 15 minutes into, and 30 minutes into the trip about letting me know about any hot spots or foot pain, when they stopped to turn back, she had giant ruptured bilateral heal blisters.
I was concerned about their ability to make it back to the trailhead and considered aborting the trip for everyone. Fortunately, about that time, two guys were coming down the trail from the hut. I explained the situation to them, and they agreed to shepherd my two friends back down. Later I learned they abandoned them and left them to fend for themselves. Despite my trepidation, they made it down safely.
This experience taught me several lessons. First, I am a rank amateur backcountry ski guide (no surprise). Second, if you are responsible for the group emergency equipment, keep it together. I had separated some of the shared equipment, such as the blister kit, first-aid kit, bivy sack, et cetera, among the group. When blisters needed attention, the blister kit was in a pack on someone else's back way up the trail from me. Before the trip, my friend that got the blisters and I decided that it was unnecessary for both of us to bring our nice cameras on the trip. We choose to bring hers on the trip. Her camera went back to the trailhead with her on the first day of the trip and hence, I have no photos from this trip. You can check out reports and photos from several other trips here: Bob's Skiing Page.
The second day we toured around the hut. First, we went along the ridge directly north of the hut. The view from the front porch of Uncle Bud's is incredible. The photo above was taken by someone else. On another day we toured over by Bear and Galena Lakes southwest of the hut. Howard took a solo tour one afternoon and found the tracks of a large animal. After we looked in a field guide at hut, the only track that fit was that of a mountain lion. We had a hard time believing a mountain lion was up by Uncle Bud's in the middle of winter, but no other track seemed to look like what Howard observed.
I must share one more tale of another debacle from this trip. We were sharing the hut with another group of guys in the usual 10th Mountain Division Hut communal way. One member of our group had to leave to go back to work two days earlier than the rest our group. On the evening of the day that he left, one member of our group (who shall remain nameless) told me that Ken had put some leftover chicken for us in the cold room. I decided to make some hors d'oeuvres from the newly found stash in addition to the food I had already planned for dinner.
We were sitting at one of the tables shortly after eating the tasty treat when, a member of the other group came up and shyly asked, "Have any of you seen the chicken that was in the cold pantry?". Horrified, I answered, "Yes, we just finished eating it." With many mea culpas, I tried to explain what happened. He was quite magnanimous and not angry about our brainless mistake. Fortunately, we had some extra foil pouches of chicken so that they could still have something for dinner. We repeatedly begged forgiveness and helped in any way we could including doing their dishes after their meal. If you are reading this and were one of the victims of my chicken theft, I would love to hear from you and reminisce. My contact information is here: About Robert Taylor Page.
I cannot remember much else interesting about the trip, so this is the end.