Three people cross country skiing with a dog

words by Ryan Scavo; photos by Ryan Scavo unless otherwise credited

When my husband and I shared our annual hut trip plans with friends and family, we experienced mixed reactions. My parents and in-laws considered me a bit crazy and urged me to “be careful” and not “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.

Two pregnant women cross country skiing

Photo: Matt Weldon

My husband and I luckily 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 come equipped with comfortable bunks, propane stoves and cookware, and wood stoves with split wood at the ready. Plus, staying there means easy access to over 60 miles (100 kilometres) of backcountry trails.

2 dogs running in the snow