Colorado 10th Mountain Division Hut Trip - Day 1 - Uncle Bud's Hut
Colorado 10th Mountain Division Hut Trip - Day 3 - Betty Bear Hut

Colorado 10th Mountain Division Hut Trip - Day 2 - Skinner Hut

Skinner Hut on a cloudy afternoon.

On the second day in the Rocky Mountains I was going to descend from Uncle Bud's hut, cross over to the other side of Turquoise Lake and then ascend the gravel track, followed by the old railway grade towards Hagerman's Pass to reach Skinner Hut.

I decided that as my car was parked very close to my route, that I would descend to there and drop off a few things and pick up some more food and water. This would save me a trip into Leadville.

 I had the 10th Mountain Division Hut Guidebook with me so could read the page describing Skinner Hut.

10th. Mountain  Hut description of Skinner Hut

 Waking just before sunrise at Uncle Bud's was a real treat. I was sleeping downstairs next to the fire, so there were no curtains and my view was spectacular.

Sunrise from Uncle Bud's Hut

 I got dressed and got a pot boiling on the gas stove. The water I was using was from the pump and I couldn't trust it to be clean, but if it was boiled I figured it would be good enough.

As I made my tea and porridge, the other guests staying at the hut got up. It looked as though they had a much more hearty feast planned than my modest breakfast. But they had arrived by car, and had plenty of time. I on the other  hand was carrying everything I would use, and I had a feeling they weather was going to change today, so I wanted to make the most of the clear morning.

I packed up, washed my things and packed everything on my bike. Before I left, I brought in more firewood from the stack outside. There was plenty of kindling, so I decided I didn't need to chop any of the bigger logs up. The huts have plenty of notices posted up on the walls to remind guests that it isn't quite like a hotel, more like a Youth Hostel, where you should do some jobs, and you should always try to leave a place cleaner than when you arrive. You also have to carry out all of your trash.

Once I had finished, I said my goodbyes, and headed down the track on my bike. Unlike yesterday when I was struggling to climb the track on my bike, today, I was struggling to descend slowly enough. By the time I had reached the road, my hands ached from continuous braking. With a heavily packed bike, it was easy to go too fast and difficult to control my two wheeled juggernaut once it was travelling at speed. So it was better to keep control of the speed from the start.

Once down at the road it was an easy cycle to the car and to off-load my small bag of rubbish and to refill my water bottles. Then to setoff again on the road for the track up to Skinner Hut.

Road Around Turquoise Lake

Pretty soon there is a dirt track to the left which climbs gradually to a clearing where there are several vehicles.  This is an easy track for cars and motor bikes, and so I was passed several times by vehicles travelling quite fast, and they all left billows of dust in their wake. Luckily I had a neckerchief and could put this over my nose and mouth to keep most of the dust from getting into my mouth and down to my lungs.

At the top of the trail was the remains of some old tunnel workings. These were the remains of the Carlton Tunnel.

Carlton Tunnel

This whole area has a rich history which was largely related to overcoming the challenges of transporting people, equipment and minerals from Denver to Leadville, a town which very briefly was home to a flourishing silver mining business. This tunnel was built to avoid the train having to cross the Continental Divide via Hagerman Pass.

I left the tunnel workings behind and also left the road track, now I was ascending on the track which once was the railway line to the pass. This was very difficult to cycle on and was also very difficult for 4 wheel drive vehicles.  I walked up a fair bit of this and pushed my bike. This sign describes a little of the background for where I was.

Sign marking the Colorado Midland Railway trail

Pretty soon I had climbed to a fair height, and was able to look across the valley to the dirt track I had previously been cycling up.

Dirt Track cuts through forest.

 

Looking towards Turquoise with Leadville beyond.

 

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Rocky outcrop in the Rockies

 

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Eventually I reached towards the top of the track and had to cycle back and forwards to find Skinner's Hut as it is very well hidden from the road.

 

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