When my husband and I shared our annual hut trip plans with friends and family, we were met with mixed reactions. My parents and in-laws thought I was crazy and urged me to “be careful” and “don’t overdo it.” However, our ski-crazed friends from back East called the hut managers and booked the trip without a second thought.
These conflicting reactions weren’t due to the threat of avalanches or other potential dangers of skiing in the backcountry. Rather, it was the fact that a couple of women and their husbands were planning to do what they love: getting outside and having a great time skiing.
But this year, we carried a different kind of cargo: growing babies. Both myself and our good friend Tasha, were several months pregnant.
My husband and I are lucky enough to live close to the San Juan mountain range of southwestern Colorado. We try to take advantage of this as much as possible. In summer, we seek hidden hot springs, while each winter we fulfill our favorite seasonal tradition: an annual ski and hut trip in the Colorado high country.
While researching backcountry trips that had dog-friendly lodging, we discovered the San Juan Huts (SJH), a system of five huts located on the north slope of the Sneffels Range in the Uncompahgre National Forest. These huts are equipped with comfortable bunks, propane stoves and cookware, and wood stoves with split wood at the ready, not to mention access to over 60 miles (100 kilometres) of backcountry trails.
While our first year skiing to SJH’s North Pole Hut was a minor bust due to poor conditions in February, our 2016 trip proved quite the contrary, thanks to a stellar El Nino year. Knowing conditions would likely be significantly better, some east coast friends came along for a New Year’s trip to SJH’s Blue Lakes Hut.
We picked the Blue Lakes Hut because it is a relatively easy-to-moderate route, and with a couple of babies-on-board, we figured it was the best choice. The majority of the 5.1-mile (8 kilometres) ski to the Blue Lakes Hut follows a forest road and climbs a little over 1,100 feet (335 metres), traversing meadows, swamplands, and endless mountain peaks. The final stretch takes skiers along the Blue Lakes Trail, which meanders through pine and aspen stands until the last climb to the hut reveals stunning views of Mt. Sneffels.
For this trip, we embraced a choose-your-own adventure mentality. By the end of our weekend, we explored more backcountry terrain than I ever expected as pregnant women, cooked delicious stir-fry and macaroni and cheese dinners, and were greeted with blue skies by day and star-packed skies by night.
I frequently hear women talk about nine months of limitations – from the foods you can and cannot eat to the exercises and activities you shouldn’t participate in. This trip proved two things: First, skiers of all levels – from the casual cross-country trekkers to the diehard backcountry skiers – have options in these mountains. Second, pregnancy doesn’t have to hinder a woman.
As long as I maintain awareness of my body, skiing ability, and the terrain I’m exploring, I can keep doing the activities I love. In my mind, the hut trip was an opportunity to get our son started on this journey in the right direction – one full of healthy outdoor activity and (hopefully) an unending desire to play and explore in the backcountry. As for Tasha and me, we’re already planning next year’s trip with a couple of wild baby boys in tow.
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About the author
Ryan Scavo is an avid outdoors-woman, amateur blogger, passionate photographer and life-long adventure seeker who grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania. After exploring the backwoods of her home state, she made her way west to southern Colorado, a place she now calls home.
She and her husband have two wild cattle dogs and are expecting an equally wild baby boy in early 2016.
Find her online
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