This weekend was the Community School faculty retreat at Bench Hut. Bench Hut is located above Red Fish Lake and about a six mile walk from highway 75. To access Bench Hut, you can take the summer road to the Red Fish Lake trailhead and make your way to the hut.

We had a group of 13 people with the plan to back country ski the surrounding slopes around the hut. On our way out we took a snow mobile assist about 2 miles to the trail head. This saved us a bit of time.

From there, it took us about 2.5 hours to make our way to the hut. The trail was easy to follow but pretty well snow covered. You climb about 1400 feet from the highway to the hut. The hut itself is a wood-frame structure with with an insulated canvas surround. There are two wood stoves, a kitchen with a propane stove, sauna and beds for about 20.

After hiking up to the hut, the gang took a run down the slope behind the structure called the Crapper. There was a ton of fresh powder.

On the second day, we made our way out about 2 miles to a green light run across from one of the bench lakes. Avalanche conditions were considerable so we avoided any 30 degree and higher slopes but had a really good run to tackle. The hike out there provided beautiful views of the new snow fall.

I was pretty happy to get to the peak for the run. I was playing ski patrol on snowshoes because I’m not a skier so my feet and legs were ready for a break. We had some view of the face of the peak above us but it was pretty cloudy.

The snow looked great and everyone had a good run down the slope. Sarah was looking pretty badass once she got to the bottom.

We made our way through the trees, across the lake, down the Crapper and back to the hut for some well deserved beer and burritos.

We woke up the next morning to gradually clearing skys. Every time a person went outside they’d come back in and report the percentage of clear sky we had to work with.

As we left the hut for a few runs down the Crapper before heading back to the car, we were graced with a spectacular view. The clouds had opened up to the mountains around us. Sarah and I hadn’t even realized they were there. We had great views of Mt. Heyburn and Grand Mogul. I have never seen a group of people so happy with the vista. There were a lot of “Holy Shit!” and “Oh, My, God!”s going around.

I took entirely too many pictures of the landscape.

The gang took two good runs down the Crapper before packing up shop and heading back to the car. I got a lot of pictures of Sarah with some very big smiles.

It was a great hike down. Having a view made it much easier to make the trek.

Even after getting down to the trailhead and making our way up the summer road, we still had great views of the mountains we had been playing in.

Tomorrow will be a hard day to sit behind a computer.