Ryan and I had been planning to take a three-day weekend for spring break for a while now and decided that a hut trip in BC would be a good way to spend our time. We settled on Keith’s Hut north of Pemberton, BC and began the planning process. We decided we would make everything fit in our ~40L airbag packs and got the car ready to go. We left Seattle around 5:30 PM on Friday night and drove as fast as we could towards the border. Although it got late quickly, our excitement kept us going until we reached the Joffre Lakes Trailhead. We settled into the back of the car and were sleeping by midnight. We woke up in the morning to a mostly empty parking lot and gathered our stuff, hoping to beat the crowds to the hut and claim our space. The hike was easy and as the forest opened up we were sure the hut was just over the next rise. Since another party was at our heels, I told Ryan to trudge on and make it to the hut as fast as he could. After about 30 minutes I rounded a corner to see Ryan just standing there.
“You need to keep going!” I exclaimed.
“There is no need, I’ll tell you in a sec.”
I quickly met Ryan and learned that in fact there was no Keith’s hut in the drainage we were in…instead it was on the other side of a massive glacier to our left…
After wallowing in our sorrow, we decided to keep hiking (with all of our overnight gear) and get in a run called Heartstrings, since we were practically almost there. After learning we had hiked all this way and there was no hut in sight, our pace did slow but we finally made it to the ridge and below us was a beautiful open slope. We converted, had a small snack (we hadn’t had breakfast as we were waiting to get to the hut), and made our way down with tired legs. A bit of bushwhacking led us back to our skin track and we found ourselves at the car, 2 days earlier than we had originally planned, around 2pm. On the plus side this meant we got to eat a few more Trader Joe’s maple cookies before driving 4km down the road to the actual trailhead.
We had a lunch of sausage and cheese, a few more cookies, and by 3pm we were off again, this time hiking up the correct drainage (we double checked). The path was straightforward and relatively flat, but my legs were tired. I still felt that the hut must be around every single corner. As the forest thinned, we began to see huge lines all over the place covered with beautiful s-turns, so that excitement helped move me forward. A bit more hiking and we made it to the hut, filled with about 20 other people, by 6pm.
I immediately put on my down booties (glorious) and got dinner out. I cannot explain how nice it is to hike all day and be welcomed by a warm fire. However, what is not nice is sharing a hut with a few guys who brought up steaks and sausage in a sled. After only one day out I was already craving something other than our bagged Indian food and rice!
The cabin began to stir around 7am and we were excited to get some fresh tracks. We moved quickly and were hiking towards the anniversary glacier by ~8:30am with the whole place to ourselves. Although Ryan wanted to ski the glacier proper, I was hesitant about conditions and convinced him to take a fresh line on the shoulder. There was an abundance of hoots and hollers and we decided to get another lap in before skiing off the glacier. We had our sausage and cheese again (which is probably still sitting on the glacier since we never saw it again for the rest of the trip) and made our way up to an open line we had spotted from below.
Conditions were still sketchy (1-2ft shears with little effort) so we decided to pick the mellower slope of two options. Although terrified on the way up, I decided on the way down “this isn’t likely to slide, and if it does I might as well be having some fun!” I think those were some of the best turns of the year. Light, fluffy, and untracked. We had to do another lap before descending to the lower altitudes that were beginning to mush up a bit.
Although more bowls remained to be skied, we decided that it was time to call it a day. We had had a good 8 hours after all. Back at the hut, Ryan worked on his wood chopping skills, and we imbibed in food and drink until others began to trickle in. The night was filled with great conversation and delightfully warm sleeping bags. Morning came too quickly and we decided to pack everything up and just take the run out in order to make it back to Seattle at a decent hour. There was a bit more bushwhacking, but we were back to the car by 11am and in Squamish enjoying a burger by 1pm.
We will definitely be back to the BC huts. Falling asleep in a down sleeping bag next to a warm fire and waking up to acres and acres of fresh lines are definitely two of life’s greatest joys.