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Machine Gun Ridge Hike and Farewell to the Hut

July 31, 2013

On the Sunday morning of our hut trip, I woke up early, but not quite early enough to take in another sunrise, thanks to some late-night birthday celebrations the night before.  We were almost out of water at the hut, so I walked down to the car to grab the last two gallons we’d stashed there.  Along the way I was treated to gorgeous views of wildflowers.

Fowler/Hilliard Wildflowers

I also got some up-close-and-personal time with the horses who were grazing and lounging in front of our hut.  There was a shepherd living in a camper nearby and these were his horses.  Their front legs were bound together – we guessed it was so they wouldn’t wander too far away – and their halting walks tugged at my heart-strings.  I felt a little better about it when it became clear that they were living in a horse’s paradise and seemed like pretty happy animals.  We also saw him unbind one and ride it, so I’m hoping they each got to stretch their legs every day.

Fowler/Hilliard Horses

A little while later, it was time for a pancake breakfast at the hut, complete with syrup, strawberries and whipped cream.  We made the pancakes from Krusteaz just-add-water mix, and I was shocked at how delicious they tasted.  The view might have helped a little bit.

Hut Trip Pancakes

After breakfast, we cleaned up the hut and lugged all of our stuff down to the cars.  With a group our size, the place was clean in no time, even though we’d made a bit of a mess the night before.  All packed up and ready to go, a few of us decided to sneak in one more hike before hitting the road.  We drove over to the top of Ptarmigan Pass to begin our short hike to the top of Machine Gun Ridge.

Machine Gun Ridge View

Apparently during WWII, the soldiers training at Camp Hale used this ridge for training on machine guns and even lived atop it in makeshift shelters.  I’d imagine that it was frigid and miserable during the winter, but the views from the top were spectacular.

Machine Gun Ridge

We could look back toward our hut and over the mountain ranges we’d viewed on our hike the previous day, and we took in new views on the other side of the ridge over to Copper Mountain and the Continental Divide.

Atop Machine Gun Ridge

It was only a steep 20-minute hike to the top.  We were the queens of short hikes on this trip, and I really enjoyed going for a bunch of little hikes versus one long one.  I guess that’s one of the perks of staying on a mountaintop – easy accessibility!

Columbine on Machine Gun Ridge

If my research is correct, we were up at about 12,300 feet here, and even so I was surprised to see little snow fields hanging around in the late July sun.

Machine Gun Ridge

One of my friends couldn’t resist the opportunity for a July snow angel.

July Snow Angel

Here’s the angel with a view toward the Continental Divide beyond it.

July Snow Angel

After the hike, it was sadly time to head back to civilization, but the weekend fun didn’t stop there – we headed straight to Vail for a decadent birthday barbecue at a friend’s house.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2013 12:27 pm

    If I ever forgot how beautiful Colorado is, photos like these would remind me… I especially love the puffy white clouds, like flying cotton balls, but the wildflowers are pretty awesome, too.

    • July 31, 2013 1:06 pm

      Thank you Forrest! I know exactly what you mean – the entire weekend that I was on my hut trip high in the mountains, I kept looking aroud and literally gasping in response to the beauty around me.

  2. July 31, 2013 1:20 pm

    I love Krusteaz Honey Wheat pancake mix.. it’s a secret obsession! Love your photos as always, and they encourage me to get out and hike to take advantage of this great state!

    • July 31, 2013 3:54 pm

      Yum! Ours was the Buttermilk kind and I bought it at Costco so now I have pancake mix that should last me a couple years! And thank you so much – it’s definitely the perfect time of year to do some hiking with the wildflowers in bloom!

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