It's a risky endeavor to mix friends with family for several days in the confined space of a 500 square foot hut; A hut that is a 3 mile hike in, and isolated from the outside world. (No television, no internet, no phones). It's the kind of place where you have to rely on nature and company for entertainment.
Bringing together friends and family in this kind of situation has the potential for ultimate disaster. If everyone doesn't get along there will be inescapable tension and awkwardness, for which you will feel responsible. Even if everyone does get along, there is a good chance that you will feel uncomfortable, especially if your parents are anything like mine and embarrass you without even trying.
As an adult in my 30's I thought that by now I would be past getting embarrassed by my parents but that is SO not the case! (My mom always finds a way). She says what's on her mind, which at times is unsensored and inappropriate. My mom's outlandish remarks usually turn me scarlet while bringing comic relief to others, making her all the more lovable to them and all the more aggravating to me. (Please, please let her refrain from making crude jokes and gestures after a few too many vodka tonics!)
It's well known that hut trips reveal the true colors of your companions. There is just no getting around it when you are sharing eating and sleeping (and pooping) quarters, with very little privacy. That, and there is no outside stimulation to distract you. When the sun goes down behind the mountain at 3:30pm, there is a lot of downtime spent in a small shared living space. It's the kind of environment that inspires heavy drinking and creative games to keep entertained. It's either that, or really good snow conditions that keep you outside and moving all day so that the hut it just used as a shelter to eat and sleep.
We did not have the fortune of good snow and had to rely on booze and creativity. We booked the Lost Wonder Hut, which sits outside of Poncha Springs at 11,000 feet. Although we were up there in early February, the balmy weather and spotty snowpack made it feel more like April. In fact, parts of our "ski" in were dry patches of dirt, which forced us to take off our skis and carry them with our poles and the two sleds that carried the "extras" that didn't fit into our packs. From what I can recall, we had 10 bottles of wine, over 40 cans of beer, 3 liters of homemade Bloody Mary's and a bottle of whiskey...For eleven of us.
It's common knowledge that drinking is a great ice breaker for bringing together strangers that are about to spend 3 days in the mountains together. Five minutes after arriving to our hut, beers were cracked open, wine was flowing and a spread of salami and cheese covered the picnic table. The music and speakers came out too, and it felt like our own private party among the majestic snowcapped mountains. By dinner time the whiskey was getting passed around and somehow we convinced the boys to do the dishes...naked. Don't get too excited; they were only half naked, some from the top up and one (ahem, my husband) from the bottom down. They all kept their underwear on, which was probably a good thing. (Remember we were sharing this experience with my parents and father-in-law).
After all the dishes were clean and squealing from the girls had ceased, our friend Justin pulled out his big black box of Cards Against Humanity. What a game to play with your parents: The next 2 hours brought out the most vulgar sides of everyone and had us all laughing until our stomachs hurt. I was realizing that I didn't need to worry about my mom acting inappropriate in this crowd. Everyone was inappropriate!
On day two we all surprised ourselves and were up with the sun and ready to play in the snow. After a hearty breakfast scramble, with tortillas and bloody mary's, we strapped on skis and snowshoes and tromped up the valley. The snow was thin, with a layer of crust on top of soft snow with rocks, stumps and bushes poking out everywhere. It was terrible snow for skiing. Still, we all had a good time and came back with smiles on our faces.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with launching off a kicker on sleds, games of poker, Goddess card readings, yoga on the patio, lighthearted conversations and deep, meaningful conversations (accompanied by wine). That evening it was the girls turn to do dishes...and yes, we stripped down to our sports bras while singing and dancing. A solar powered strobe light even came out! As I attempted to shake what my momma gave me while simultaneously scrubbing a saucepan, it hit me how well everyone was getting along and how much FUN we were all having! What's more is that my mom hadn't even embarrassed me. Is it that I have become more comfortable and no longer get embarrassed? Has she become more tame? Or is it that my friends are just as rowdy and unsensored as she is?
My answer came after devouring the legendary fudge brownies that my father-in law makes every time we get together. Our friends Tricia and Colin introduced us to a game called "What would you do if". It required using our own creativity to come up with comical questions and answers. Apparently the game from the night before influenced us, as we all seemed a little too comfortable coming up with inappropriate questions and answers. We were so caught up in this raunchy behavior that it became our new normal. It all came to a halt when my mom's name and a very derogatory remark were matched up (this was all by chance, by the way). We were all laughing hysterically. Everyone that is...except for my mom. She suddenly got up from the table and called it a night. We were stunned. Did we actually offended the Momma Bear? My mom, the queen of inappropriate comments? Had we really offended and embarrassed HER? None of us knew for sure. Of course, in any other situation it would be expected that someone's mom would be offended after hearing her name used in such a derogatory sentence (it's too offensive to even write here).
No one else dared to ask, so it was up to me to find out from my mom the next day how badly we offended her. She laughed and said "Not at all!", that she was just looking for an excuse to go to bed. She added, "That was the most fun I've ever had on a hut trip". I silently sighed in relief. I also agreed with her. This had been an especially fun trip. It turns out that bringing together friends and family in a little hut can work. My fears of mixing the two were unfounded!
It seems we all shared this sentiment. "When it comes to hut trips" says my friend Justin, "the enjoyment is all about the company". He is absolutely right. We didn't need epic snow. Having great company made the trip. "Oh, and large quantities of alcohol" he adds. Well, I can't argue with that. We're already talking about plans for another hut trip next year...and possibly three sleds.