Blue Ridge Country....
HIT THE HUT FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
SNOWSHOE MOUNTAINS SUNRISE BACKCOUNTRY HUT
I could think of no better way of spending the holidays than with my mothers--and I mean both the mother that bore me and Mother Nature.
When West Virginia winter visitors talk about hitting the hut, theyre not heading out for pizza. Theyre making their way to Snowshoe Mountains Sunrise Backcountry Hut. I think its an ideal place to spend at least a part of the holidays with your loved ones--mothers, brothers, sisters, spouses, extended family, and, of course, the ever lovely Mother Nature.
Modeled after the huts found in Colorado with the 10th Mountain Division hut system and similar ones found in the European Alps, a trip out to Snowshoes Sunrise Backcountry Hut is truly one of my favorite winter experiences in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The trip out to the Hut is a prelude of the experience to come. Nestled two miles out in the backcountry on Cheat Mountain, the Hut is reached by foot, the new Argo six-passenger ATVs equipped with tracks (a mini-snowcat), snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or snowmobiling, depending on conditions and your condition or desire. Ive gotten out there practically every way possible and would recommend heading out one way and coming back another.
Less than 100 feet down the trail, youve entered a wilderness world. The bustling new resort complex and people at Snowshoe Mountain are quickly left behind, with the pines, the views, and maybe a loved one or three as your only company. On the way out, you pass by several spring-to-fall campsites that can provide stunning winter views just off the trail.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted like family members by the resident Hut Master, who will likely we waiting on the front porch. Its quickly clear to first-timers that the two-story cabin is anything but what you might think of as a hut.
Constructed of native spruce and situated in a small clearing, the cabin features an awe-inspiring eastern mountaintop view. Inside, theres a private bedroom (the oldest or most in need of romance typically get this room), plus a large upstairs loft with four beds that brings the sleeping capacity to a total of 10. Theres also a gourmet backcountry kitchen that cranks out some serious food and a small private room for the Hut Master.
The entire cabin is nicely furnished with white cedar furniture. However, if youre like me, you wont want to spend too much time cooped up in the cabin rooms. Ive found that whoever I take out there with me is quickly drawn to the large woodstove, the porch, nearby overlooks, and many trails.
The current Hut Master, Ben Brannon, is your host, chef, activities director, and a typical all-around native West Virginia outdoors guy. After a quick tour of the rustic cabins facilities, youre on your own for the length of your stay. Aside from simply reading by the constant fire, other popular activities include winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and big bonfires on cold winter nights.
Another popular activity with veteran visitors like me and my family is eating. You wont find any pizza served at this hut, unless its a gourmet slice topped with creative choices like ramps (a popular wild onion-like vegetable in the West Virginia mountains). A typical four-course dinner might include a creative dip, freshly prepared soup or salad, salmon, and a pie just out of the oven. In that not all family members may agree on what to eat, vegetarian and other unique dietary options can be accommodated with advance notice.
Before or after dinner, its a short walk to an overlook for a great sunset. For many, this beats bundling up early to catch the Huts namesake sunrise (though Bens fresh biscuits with sausage gravy do serve as an olfactory alarm clock). Either way, its a great way to start or end a unique Snowshoe experience that feels especially right during the holidays.
The Hut can be booked by individual accommodations or as a whole (10 people). After checking with your mother and other significant others, Id definitely recommend booking the entire thing for $750 a night, which includes dinner and breakfast for each night booked. If you do the math, this is a great deal for a special holiday experience!
If its just the two of you (dont tell your mother), the private room is $240 per night and a loft bed is $215 (either option includes dinner and breakfast). For reservations (theyre booking quickly), visit www.snowshoemtn.com or call (304) 572-5477.