I Almost DIED

Hello from Vail, CO Joyflakes!

Slow going up in the snow and wind

I am unbelievably happy to be writing to you all today because there was a point Wednesday night that I wasn't sure I would make it.  For Ali's bachelorette trip instead of going out to the bars or to Vegas, we went on a hut trip.  If you've never been on one before, I hadn't until Wednesday, the basic idea is that you hike to a remote hut/cabin in the mountains of Colorado and drink for the night.  This idea sounded amazing to me and I was unbelievably excited to try something new.

Ali all ready to start up to to hut! (There's a mountain behind her but it cannot be seen through the snow)
Wednesday around 11 o'clock, we all gathered at Ali's parents house and loaded up the cars for our trip.  Michelanne, Ali's sister and MOH went up early with Brian* to get all of the food and sleeping bags and whatnot to our hut on the snowmobile so that we would have less to carry.  It was snowing and Vail pass was a traffic disaster so by 3:15 we were finally all on our way up the mountain on snowshoes.  If you've never snowshoed before I highly recommend it; it's an amazing workout and great way to stay active in the winter.  We were probably 100 ft from the trailhead when things started to get interesting.  The trail, which was marked by thin blue poles, hadn't been packed out so the we were not only gaining altitude, but blazing trail through 2ft of fresh powder.  Being from Iowa, New York, and Minnesota, this meant that we took a lot of breaks to catch our breath and rest and under normal circumstances, this would have been fine.  The problem was that going that slow meant that by the time the sun was setting, we were nowhere near the hut.  About half of the way up, Michelanne and Grace (who had literally come straight from the airport) caught up with us which is one thing that helped to save us.  Michelanne knew where she was going much better than the rest of us and took the lead.

Looking up the "path"

Monica at the trailhead 
Around 3/4 of the way there, we couldn't see where the next blue pole was and only had one head lamp so the going got even slower and our beautiful snowy overcast night just kept getting darker. In the middle of the dark, on a freezing cold mountain, with only one lamp, we were exhausted and falling into hole after hole after hole.  This was the point in time when I literally thought "If I fall one more time, I'm just going to curl up and freeze to death I seriously don't think I'm gong to make it.  Thankfully, Michelanne called her friend Suzanne, who had been waiting for us at the hut to hike down to us so that the trail would be easier to follow.  When we finally saw the light from Suzanne's flashlight, I was both extremely excited and terrified.  She looked so far away!!
Michelanne in waist deep powder

My ski pole stuck in the snow just off of our path

Finally having a destination in view, we trudged along all trying our best to stay outwardly positive while our internal monologues were filled with very strong language.  The next giant issue came when suzanne's light suddenly disappeared.  Not knowing where the trail was, Suzanne had just walked down the mountain in the direction she thought was closest to the trail and fallen into a sink hole.  Yup, a real live sink hole. Buried to her mouth, she had nothing to do but stand there, holding up her flashlight and waiting for us to come and dig her out.

Three hours and fifteen minutes after we had started up the mountain, we finally made it our hut.  I have never been so happy to see a wood stove with a pot of boiling snow on it in my life.

shrine inn

Looking from the real trail to the trail we packed/the sink holes
A beautiful morning!
rocky mountain
Panoramic view form the porch of Jay's cabin
All 10 survivors Thursday morning!

The next day dawned bright an clear and after breakfast quesadilla's, the hike down took about half the time it had taken us to make it up, and was twice as fun.

Monica, Grace and I on the way down

Needless to say, I won't be doing another hut trip for quite some time but I am considering one this summer!  Tonight is the rehearsal dinner and then the wedding tomorrow.  This week has flown by and it has been an amazingly incredible trip and I can't wait to share more with you soon!


*Brian is literally a super hero.  We never would have made it without him!