Intro:  Mountainsmith’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Jay Getzel’s, recap of his first family hut trip to Vagabond Ranch (

Outdoor recreation has many forms…these forms are often influenced by one’s place in the world, the season, friends and family…for me, late March in Colorado has meant an annual hut trip that has evolved from hard charging/hard partying to fun touring/mellow turns/good food and spirits to this year’s first…“The Family Hut Trip”.

Let me first throw in the disclaimer that to call the Vagabond Ranch a “hut” is grossly misleading. The property consists of several dwellings ranging from small cottages to large ski chalets that are separated from the main road by a 3.8 mile tour in the winter and can be driven to in the summer months. Our space, the Ranch House, was a 5 bedroom, 3 bath cabin with running water, electricity, sweet kitchen and even a hot tub.

Clearly this trip was more about getting 3 families of friends into the mountains to expose our young, but adventurous, kids to the Colorado high country and the fun of hut tripping. We had planned a mellow ski-in on the mostly flat, snow covered road and hoped to use my old-school, Mountainsmith Armadillo sled with my son and supplies tucked in.

Test run the neighborhood


The great folks that run the hut property gave us a call in the days preceding the trip to let us know that the road was melting out fast (a week + of 50 degree temps and below average snow year conspiring against us). Our crew rallied and hatched a backup plan that we were not bailing, but improvising. With the road 50% snow at best, we decided that giant packs and jogging strollers would be our best way in. I shouldered 70 pounds in the, new for 2013, Apex 80 and pushed my 3 year old son, pack and play, food and beer in my double stroller and my wife carried our 1-year old in a backpack carrier.

Heading out with Cascade Peak in the background


About halfway in, our 1-year old decided she wanted a ride in the stroller with her big bro, so we transferred some gear into the backpack carrier, added her to the stroller and lashed the pack and play on top of the stroller. At this point, the snow was getting soft, the mud getting sticky and pulling the load made more sense.

About 2 miles to go…turning into a slog at this point

After a little more than 2 hours from the car…we hit the front steps of the hut, ready to dump the load and relax.

The Vagabond Ranch – Ranch House

The weekend went on without incident and between huge meals, s’mores by the fireplace, hot-tubbing, dayhikes in the snow and a good mix of both extreme and mellow sledding runs, we had an absolute blast. Even our pups got to come along for the fun. Our families had the chance to share our love of Colorado with our kids and prep them for more (hopefully snowier) hut trips in the years to come.

My new for 2013 Apex 80 was a comfy and solid choice for the trip and my family all used our sleeping bags (Sunlight 20 for my wife, Windom 35 for me and the Boreas Jr. for our son). The hike out was uneventful and much easier with lighter loads, downhill trends and fueled by some stellar memories and plans for future adventures.

Mountainsmith office pup, Pancho chilling on the front steps thinking “I could get used to this”

Outdoor recreation is what you make of it…from my early days, growing up in New Jersey, this meant canoe trips in the Pine Barrens, car camping and fishing in the Poconos and the occasional “big” trip to the Catskills, college held a mix of backpacking the AT in New England, skipping class to hit powder days at Wildcat in Jackson, NH and early backcountry skiing experiences in Tuckerman’s Ravine.

Today my recreation includes lunchtime runs, hikes and bike rides with the crew at Mountainsmith and weekends spent both clinging to my more “extreme” adventure of years past and preparing for new adventures with the family for the years to come…thanks for checking in!

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