Thanks to the persistence and dedication of a few local hut enthusiasts, on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 the Arestua Hut acquired a state of the art solar power generating system that will provide a safe and reliable lighting system for years to come. How did this remarkable development come to pass?
I was lucky enough to be part of this historic event because I read about it in the August 4 issue of the GPS stated that it was going to happen, and if you wanted to help call Ray Bly at this number. So I did, and the next day found myself in Nederland, at Ray’s house, helping to pack in the last materials needed for the project. There I also met Mike, Ray’s partner and friend:
It had all started around last February when Ray began making inquiries to the Club about installing a solar panel at the hut. Though initially Ray did experience some confused reactions to his proposal (“You want to do what again?”), he eventually made contact with the right people in the Boulder Group, namely Jason Kintzel, chair of the Cabins Committee. As their goal became clear to Jason, it was deemed a worthy addition to the cabin. One of the worries that the Cabins Committee has is the unauthorized use of candles for lighting in the hut, and starting a fire that burns it down. Fortunately, most users do have head lamps and battery powered lanterns, but the concern is still there. By adding this type of lighting system, that concern will now be greatly allayed.
Ray is one of the owners in OG Power Station, a Colorado company that sells stand-alone solar power station products suitable for small scale power needs — perfect for a remote alpine hut! Two other friends of Ray, Mike and Bryce, make up the rest of the OG Power Station team, also helped Ray in the effort. Although not members of the CMC, they had long been users of this beloved hut, and wanted to donate this system (worth about $4,000 retail) to the hut for the benefit of all.
Together, they had made three previous trips this year, carrying up the larger parts of the system: the large PVC pipe for the support post, the solar panel itself, the metal frame that connects the panel to the post, and, last but not least, a 70 pound battery! On this fourth and final trip, we four drove in on the bumpy Rollins Pass road to Yankee Doodle Lake, which puts you within a mile and a half of the hut.
As we hiked across the bald that leads to the hut via this cross-country approach, the weather was clearly going to be a factor….
And at the hut we were greeted by Steve Priem, a long time previous caretaker of the hut. Steve’s intimate knowledge of the hut and its history, plus his carpentry skills, were sought out by Ray. They had made contact, but today was the first time they got to meet in person. Steve had arrived separately in his usual style: putting his mountain bike on the bus up to Nederland, biking to the Hessie trailhead, and hiking up to the hut from there. (Now that’s a low carbon footprint of a trip!)
Between the five of us, the installation went pretty quickly; which was a good thing, as the rain did start to fall, just as Steve and Ray made the final adjustments to attaching the panel to pole….
Inside, Mike had been busy wiring the new lights:
Finally, here’s how the solar panel appears from the outside, discreetly position above the southwest corner:
To acknowledge this generous gift to the hut, a plaque that commemorates this will be created and placed in the hut. Many thanks again to Ray, Mike and Bryce for this tremendous gift!
To learn more about the company whose product now powers the hut, see OG Power Station’s website: www.ogpower.com
(Photo credits: all photos taken by Bryce Avallone, except the first and fourth, taken by Rick Casey)