Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning here - getting to this hut is no frickin’ joke. It was super hard and honestly, if I don’t make it back to Ben Eiseman in the winter for a couple of years, it might still be too soon. I’m kidding. Kind of.
Like last year, our friends Brandon and Dan coordinated a Thanksgiving hut trip and Alex and I snagged an invite. Instead of trekking to 2 huts over the long weekend, the group opted to stay at one hut for all 3 nights so Brandon selected Ben Eiseman Hut, a 10th Mountain Division hut just outside Vail. The hut sleeps 16+ people and is one of the more isolated huts, according to the 10th Mountain Division website.
The hike in was 7 long, upward miles. The first couple of miles were gentle inclines but as the day dragged on, it felt like we’d never reach the hut. We knew the last 1.5 miles were really steep switchbacks but knowing didn’t make the doing any easier.
In total, it took us 8-9 hours to get to the hut so warning to future hut trippers, leave the trailhead before 10 a.m. We did not and arrived in the dark which is a little bit disconcerting, especially for first time hut trippers/snowshoers/backpackers (our group had many).
Overjoyed to finally reach the hut and exhausted from trekking with heavy, heavy packs, we started the fire and prepped the hut for those who were still out. A short deliberation about eating Thanksgiving dinner that night ensued (hunger vs. exhaustion) and ultimately, gorging on the heavy ass food we carried in won. And almost immediately after, the entire cabin called it a night and passed out in a matter of minutes.
The next 2 days were spent doing whatever the hell we wanted. We built really fun (and not very safe) sled hills outside the hut. We played Farkle, Trivial Pursuit and Cards Against Humanity multiple (+multiple) times. We read books and magazines. We cooked and ate 10+ packs of bacon (10+ because I lost count). We drank Mountain Margaritas. We listened to and sang along with Shake It Off too many time. In short, we had a blast.
While the trek in was painstakingly long, our time spent at the hut was fabulous. Almost to the point that short term memory loss could kick in and trick me into hut tripping at Ben Eiseman again in the near future. Almost.
The sunrises and sunsets were absolutely stunning and the views from and around the hut were incredible. The hut itself was so spacious and beautiful. The company was hilarious and awesome and the food was the best I’ve had in the backcountry. One of the best part of hut trips is knowing that the other 15 people who are at the hut with you are just as crazy about the mountains as you are. We come from different walks but our passion is the same: Get outside, have fun, do things you love and be with people you enjoy.
But back to Ben Eiseman: It’s well worth the hike if you’re prepared for what you’re getting into. I probably wouldn’t recommend this hut to a first timer but it is doable – ours survived and are excited about future hut trips and snowshoeing.