When I rolled out the door last Saturday morning to go meet Steve Priem by 7:15am, I was not too enthusiastic about the propects for the Arestua work party that day: as I drove in from Lafayette, Boulder looked like Scotland on a bad weather day! It wasn’t raining yet, but the dense fog made it feel like it could start at any time…
But the typically irrepressible Steve took no note of the weather as i helped him load his bizarre variety of gear into my car (two 5 foot lengths of skinny PVC pipe, Steve?): chain saw, carpentry tools, the 2×6 block of wood…yes, all of it was apparently part of the plan, and all necessary to be carried in. So, off we went…into the gloom of a socked in Boulder Canyon.
Then, as we emerged at Barker Resevoir next to Nederland, well, lah-de-dah! the the gloom and doom was replaced by sun and blue sky! Things were looking up…
We rolled in to Rollinsville at 8am sharp, right on time (which Steve said was pretty good for him), and hooked up with rest of the work party crew: an amazing 16 people had shown up, some for the very first time. From the looks of this gathering, it was clear we had a strong work force to tackle getting the hut ready for winter.
We carpooled from Rollinsville with the most 4WD-worthy vehicles we had, because the stretch of the trip was notorious: an 11 miles stretch of the most winding, pitted, rutted, washboarded, deep mud puddle-laden stretch of road you’re likely to find anywhere in the Front Range! Luckily enough, there was space for a fifth in a rugged looking, enhanced Toyota Fourunner, with a rugged looking guy driving, Jared, sporting some serious dreadlocks but with a serious mein about him. He said he helps run the CU Telemark Club. On the ride in, I got to meet his three other comrades, Nicholas, Jack and Thomas. All were young, enthusiastic outdoor folks (avid skiers and climbers), recent college graduates, but had never stayed at the cabin, but were planning to get there this winter.
Once we reassembled at Yankee Doodle Lake, we hefted our packs filled with gear, and began the trek into the hut. Less than a mile and half, the route goes over a bald, just above treeline, with a lovely view of the Needleye Tunnel, Rollins Pass and James Peak. It was a beautiful late summer morning with no wind; in other words, perfect.
Once at the hut, there was a quick group meeting about safety around chain saws by Doug , and a review of what needed to get done by Steve. Then everybody got to work: bringing dead trees to cut up and split, a hole in the deck to repair, the stovepipe to clean, the outhouse to clean, and a big cardboard box to cut up into kindling. The wood cutting and chopping was obviously the biggest chunk of work, but the team was up to it. Over the next three hours or so, they hustled up enough wood to fill the large woodbin more than half full. I had some fun reacquainting myself with using an axe to split wood (after a few near misses).
By about 3 pm, the tasks were all done…or nearly. Steve said he wanted to get one more work party to completely fill the woodbine. But with the new solar station, and the real glass window that was installed several years ago, the Arestua hut is looking in pretty darn good shape for the winter.
Now all we need is about 36 inches of a snow base, and 12 inches of fresh powder!
See all my photos here…
Plus Dave Miller took even more photos, and his can be seen here.