A Backpacking Misadventure to Siepel Hut

This wasn’t my first backpacking misadventure. After a few of them, I should know better than to trust my husband, Danny. The first time we backpacked with our daughter, Courtney, the easy four-mile trip became eight, and I carried over thirty pounds. This year’s Siepel Hut backpacking trip wouldn’t require a tent or stove. We would stay in a comfortable hut for the night. It’s part of the 10th Mountain Division. A four-mile hike with a much smaller backpack would be easy peasy, right? Ha!

We started up the steep trail at noon. It’s amazing how I had to stop to catch my breath right away. As we hiked, my body got used to the altitude and thinner air. Did I mention that I had just tested negative on Monday after having COVID for two weeks? Yeah, so I was still dealing with some after-effects, I’m sure.

Cue the tiny violins.

We enjoyed the fields of wildflowers, where butterflies danced from flower to flower. It was much nicer than the boggy marsh where mosquitoes whined.

We continued for an hour and made good time over the next. When we got to the sign, we thought we were getting close. One more half-hour to go.

This was our first wrong turn.

We climbed up a trecherous hill toward New York Lake and watched for a sign with an intersecting trail. Twice, we climbed and hiked back down. Then I remembered a trodden animal trail before the marshy swale. Aha! We lost at least a half-hour, but once we started on the foot-trodden grass, we wound our way upward and found a cairn — pile of rocks — that marked the trail.

Courtney expressed our frustration.

Back on course, we circled toward the mountainous ridge and stopped to eat a very late lunch. Courtney checked her GPS. With our unfortunate missteps, the hike would be closer to eight miles. Nooooooo! Not again! I threw shade at Danny while he happily devoured a sandwich. I had to admit that the weather was perfect and the landscape lush and full of creatures — pika, mink, quail and a ptarmigan, to name a few.

Courtney confirmed that the hike would take us on a rise in elevation of over two thousand feet, as Danny had said. Something to look forward to as the air grew thinner and the sun slid downward.

The random placement of cairns became difficult to find on the steep terrain. At times, it would have been easier to crawl.

After trekking up to the jagged ridge, we lost the trail again. I made the executive decision to wend our way below it to the grassy slope of a whale’s tail in the distance. The hut had to be on the other side. I crossed my fingers.

We came from that peak behind us.

We kept our vertical and wove through thickets of fir and rocky outcroppings. We had been hiking for almost six hours. My jaw hung while breathing in and out — nostrils no longer up to the task.

As we scrabbled through another field of granite, something bit my inner thigh. It felt electrical. It was a charlie horse of the weirdest kind. It dropped me, so I stretched and forced it to stop.

Courtney suggested eating a Cliff bar. The salt and sugar were just what I needed. I finished the last of the water in my two Nalgenes and made a mental note:

Next time, I’ll pack Pedialyte sticks. They are great for electrolyte replacement and dehydration. I took one a day while I was feverish with COVID.

We hiked and hiked and hiked. Would it ever end? My muscles were long past exhausted. Their screams had died down to whimpers. My backpack, although large enough for what I needed, wasn’t made for hiking and bruised my shoulders. I longed for the hut in the woods to stretch my legs out on a cot and rest, but we were above treeline and still needed to find a cairn to mark the trail down into the sylvan vale — looked it up last week, forested valley.

AT LAST! Courtney spotted the cairn at the top of the World. A big one, at that.

This is where I sang, “On the other side of the Mountain.” It was a tuneless attempt given my mouthbreathing status.

The downward descent proved tricky on the loose rock.

But after several switchbacks, we finally made it to the road. But where was the hut?

I was so over it.

It was after 7:00. We hiked up and down the road but couldn’t find a sign. Luckily, Courtney pinned the Siepel Hut in Google Maps before she left. We bushwacked from the road down through the woods in pursuit of the red dot.

When the thick evergreen forest opened to a field, look what I spotted!

The bull moose turned all the way around. I swear, he grumbled. We took some quick pictures and bolted. Moose like to keep their distance, and they can be menacing.

Danny and I followed Courtney until the pitched roof of the Siepel Hut appeared. I was never happier. With all of our extra hiking, it ended up being nearly ten miles. This picture was taken the next morning.

It was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever taken. BUT, next time, we plan to drive to the Siepel Hut, drop off our gear, and take a day hike — a nice three to four miler. We realized most hikers started from the hut and hiked upward in the opposite direction. That’s why the cairns were so inaccurate and random.

We took a shortcut back to the car the next day. It was only a five-mile hike! Sheesh.

Misadventures always make the best stories. Next year, I’m taking charge. Then we’ll really be in trouble. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m directionally challenged.

Are you adventurous? Do you like to stick to the crowds or explore the road less traveled?

Here are a few more misadventures in backpacking!

34 thoughts on “A Backpacking Misadventure to Siepel Hut

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  1. It looks like a BEAUTIFUL place and if you are going to have misadventures it is not half bad, right. All that hiking though. I would have been grumbling at some point. I travel with Pedialyte and now have fallen in love with NUUN tablets too, which I use on gym days for leg burn/body fatigue. I am like you in that I love to adventure and explore. I love to see what the locals see as well as add in some touristy things too when traveling or out and about. Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂


    1. Hey, Renee!
      I took lots of pictures since we were literally surrounded by beauty. I’ll have to try NUUN tablets! Thanks for the tip.
      Funny thing about the town below — it consisted of a few houses, and no one was out and about!
      Great to see you!


    1. I tested negative the week before but was still recuperating. I couldn’t move those first couple of days. LOL!
      It was an amazing hike. And I have to admit that the challenge is half the fun!
      Great to see you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh! Thanks for the clarification. Sorry you got lost, but good idea to pin the cabin on a map! As a former navigator I might have had a hand held gps with me just because I love gagets. (lol)


        1. Thank you! I’ve missed everyone.
          I haven’t blogged since May! My posts were spotty during Covid since everyone was experiencing the same thing, and I didn’t have much to write about. That’s changing. I used to guilt out about missing a week or two but enjoyed the summer break. I focused my time on writing and revising a new thriller and hope to pitch it in October!🤞😎

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Well you’re a better person than me. I’d have turned back. Although it is a pretty dang neat cabin in the woods. And there was a moose. So . . . yay you!!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


    1. The best stories are the ones that take nasty turns that we somehow survive. LOL! It was beautiful. We only saw people within the first half-hour of the entire trip! That’s a gift these days. And the critters! They were everywhere.
      Thanks, Patricia! Good to see you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have gotten blog stories out of going to the grocery store. LOLOLOL! Remember the time when some random guy went off on me? I swore he was delusional. But when I pushed my cart into the parking lot, I realized I had been mumbling about him the entire time like an equally delusional human. 🤣🤣🤣
      But, you’re right. This was a big enough story to drag me bag to WordPress and click publish! Only a little PTSD when I noticed the publishing calendar was marked for two days earlier. HOW???? Talk about adrenaline!!
      Good to see you, Ally!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I do like to follow the road less travelled as long as I don’t venture into that panic mode of totally not knowing where I am! Good to hear you recovered from Covid, I had it awhile back but honestly only had a sore throat for one day & that seemed to be it. I got off lucky I guess!


    1. You did! It might depend on how long you were exposed. I spent the entire day with my son, who tested positive the following day. But I think we were both exposed in a coffee shop a couple days before. There were people nearby who sneezed and coughed for the entire hour while we were there. BA-5 sucks!

      The huts are accessible by road. But we took the loooooong way around. It looked simple on the topo map. That was a huge aha moment – Courtney and I realized Danny was counting miles marked it but they are vastly inaccurate compared to hiking apps and my fitness watch. LOL!

      I needed a challenge to prove that I could do it after all of my knee issues. It’s amazing what we can accomplish given the task! The most gorgeous hike, by far.
      Great to see you, Lynn!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad Covid is behind you, Susie! And thank you for letting me live your adventure vicariously. I would have been totally panicked, not sure where we were and it’s getting dark…Yikes!!

    But it sounds like it was a delightful outing in the end. And the pics are gorgeous!


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