Ahhh, the new hut at Fishhook is closing in on completion. We are just returning from a few days in the Sawtooth, dodging thunder and lightning storms while working to complete the latest addition to backcountry lodging deep in the beautiful mountains of Central Idaho. Every piece of wood in the new hut (except the door) came from within a 100 yards of the site. Chainsaw carpentry at work. The new hut is a wall tent design, similar to the Bench Hut but 1/2 the size. This hut creates a spacious but cozy layout for gathering a large group to cook, eat and enjoy the views from the 20′ long window gazing up at the highest peaks in the Sawtooth. We kept the old yurt, changing the orientation, giving it some much needed love and turning it into a cozy sleeping hut. We look forward to many a stoked skier gliding into these huts in the coming season!
We are just back from completing the first phase of a Fishhook Hut renovation. The goal is to give the 33 year old hut a long awaited facelift and create a cozy new cooking, eating and gathering area with a view. The end result will be a new hut (based on the design of the recently built Bench Hut, but 1/2 the size) connected to the renovated old yurt that will become a sleeping hut with bunk space for 12. The old wall tent will be dismantled. As of the end of last week, we completed the framing of the new hut and it looks awesome! The new hut is built with 100% beetle killed lodge pole pine from within a 100 yards of the site. The entire project has been powered by human muscle, chainsaws and goal zero solar power: backcountry carpentry at its best! There was even a sighting of the Grendel…
Watch out! The interns have gotten ahold of the blog! On Tuesday, nine of Sun Valley Trekkings finest converged on the Redfish Lake parking area to find a not-so-snow-covered road in to the summer trailhead. After a few hours of hauling sleds full of food, beverages, and most importantly chainsaws the few miles (and 1,100 feet up) in to Bench hut, the real work began. Areas of standing dead trees were selected and the saw fairies sprang into action! Amid hoots and hollers, trees fell left and right until a carpet of soon-to-be firewood lay scattered across the isothermic mash-potato snow.
As the sun moved across the sky, the carpet of downed trees that was laying a few hundred yards from the hut was moved, piece by piece to the wood rick, bucked into firewood sized chunks, and stacked in preparation for next years flakes to fall.
By the end of the afternoon and caked with sawdust, the firewood fairies emerged from their chainsaw slinging, log carrying dust cloud to find a full wood rick, a three-inch mat of sawdust, and a case of PBR. Boots were removed to sighs of relief, as the Irish crickets sounded off, making quick work of the beer.
The fairies slept well that night, with visions of peaks and coolers dancing in their heads, for tomorrow was to be a ski day the likes of which have never been seen. Though not a flake fell from the sky that night, Wednesday’s objective was cold dry snow, and with that singular goal in mind, the fairies gladly traded their work-gloves for ski gear, and headed up toward the peaks
Ascending to the 5th Lake Saddle, hopes of cold dry snow became blurry with heat-induced mirages. Glopping skins and beads of sweat made even the surest believers in cold snow doubt their tour plans. And then, with one short traverse and two quick turns, we struck it rich, skier style!!
Looking back at our tracks, eyes moved higher. A pair of coolers towered above us as we began to transition back to climbing mode. Wet, crusty glop turned to dry, fluffy powder as we ascended up into the confines of the coolers, and one by one each skier had his turn to enjoy the fruits of his gravity-fighting labors.
Amid hoots and cries, the cooler and runout were completely shralped, harvested of their majestic white blankness in favor of deep arcing turns. Another transition and climb back up brought the group to a turning point, and the decision was made to divide and
conquer ski. Three of the interns and Patrick opted to attempt the Heyburn Cooler, while Joe and two others decided that the original cooler still needed more shralping. More bootpacking, heavy breathing, and jaw-dropping views, found us transitioning back to downhill mode.
And just like that, we reached the lake, and prepared ourselves for a downhill battle with the late afternoon isothermic snowpack that stood between us and the hut.
One of the lesser known products of these woodcuts are fairly large piles of “slash” that aren’t wood-stove-worthy, and what’s a firewood fairy to do but put flame to flammables, sit back, and enjoy a nice little campfire.
Again, sleep evaded no-one that night, and after an early morning of cleaning and buffing out the hut, the fairies were on their way to Fishhook Yurt for more chainsaw slinging and log hauling.
With full wood ricks at both Bench and Fishhook, the firewood fairies deemed their job complete, and, the next morning, headed back to the trailhead, satisfied that yet another winter could be shared with so many, around a roaring wood stove.
The Firewood Fairies
A foot of new snow, cold temps, low wind and a hardy group of men from the north provided the necessary ingredients for a phenomenal week in the Sawtooth Mountains. Guides: Joe St.Onge and Chris Marshall and apprentices Toby Citret and Sam Felch led the group from Bench Hut to Fishhook Yurt climbing and skiing and average of 6-7000′ a day and crossing many high passes, dropping many a perfect powder run and climbing a few peaks along the way including Thompson Peak, the highest in the range. This fun group of skiers ran High and Wild in the beauty of these mountains!
Robin Carleton and 13 friends just returned from an “amazing adventure” up at our Fishhook Yurt in the Sawtooths. Check out the post and some sweet images from there trip here.