Life: Gothic, CO. Population: 4.

I kicked off the ski-road-trip-vacation last weekend with a hut trip into the town of Gothic, Colorado. Population: 4. That was before our party of fifteen arrived and occupied both the Forest Bell and Maroon huts to celebrate Bill J.’s birthday. The ski-skin in was a nice, flat three miles from a trailhead just north of Crested Butte. We had perfect weather, and the approach was cruisy enough for people to stock their backpacks with luxury stuffs like booze and…bacon. Gothic is a modern-day ghost town of sorts, occupied by only four people—the hut caretakers and a man or two devoted to the town’s current purpose as the site of The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, whatever that is (we were there to ski, no offense).

Despite its slight isolation from the rest of reality, I think that Gothic would have probably been a rockin’ place to live in its day, and it wouldn’t be such a bad place in its current state to spend some decent chunks of time. It’s surrounded by near-endless backcountry skiing terrain to explore, and the huts we stayed in were way more cushy than necessary.

The Maroon Hut (pictured above), for example, has real mattresses on the beds, running water, a shower (!), and a kitchen stocked with a fridge, a microwave, and a coffee maker. It’s huge, like four times the size of my apartment in Vail. Overkill for a mountain hut experience? Yes. Did we complain? No.

The Forest Queen Hut (above) was a bit more rustic, with a wood-burning stove, and guests at both huts were required to use the outhouse pictured in the background. I didn’t mind the outhouse, which has its name—“Load King”—carved into the wood on its side panel. Nice.

This being a luxury hut experience, we divided up into teams of four for cooking responsibilities. Deb (above left) had the grand idea of hauling in tater tots for breakfast. Joolee is smiling at the product of our creativity. Oh yes. Tot Casserole:

We layered scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese on top of the toasty tots. This stuff went down like your best greasy drive-thru meal, but it ended up being–no surprise–a big gut bomb.

Post-Tot Casserole moments involved hanging out in the hut, drinking thirds, fourths, and fifths of the coffee (with Bailey’s or whiskey). John (above) looks like he’s hanging out in his underwear, but they’re shorts, ok? And Bill (at left) looks a little worried about that rumbling that’s starting to develop in his stomach…

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