For all of the laughs, the shouts, the hoots and hollers on the slopes at Copper, sometimes it's nice to leave it all behind.
Cut through a gate off the left side of the West Ten Mile ski run onto a narrow trail traversing the woods, and quickly all of the crackling excitement of the ski area fades into the wind blowing through the trees, a chattering jay, the creak of cross-country ski boots and the sound of your own breathing.
You are on the route to Janet's Cabin, an idyllic getaway southwest of Copper Mountain where you can drop out of civilization with each step you climb up the valley.
A beautiful, spacious log cabin at treeline above the Guller Creek basin, Janet's Hut was built in 1990 as part of the Summit Huts Association, and today remains one of the most popular backcountry-ski destinations in Colorado.
Whether you reserve the entire 20 spots for an exclusive group of family and friends or find just a spot or two alongside a bunch of like-minded strangers, an overnight at Janet's always proves a restful and cozy place to recharge your batteries as you unplug from the world.
Inside the main room, a woodburning stove keeps things warm and cozy, picnic tables encourage communal dining and large bay windows overlook the upper basin and are lined with cushioned alcoves perfect for reading, watching the snowfall or checking the falling temperatures. Solar-powered lights offer plenty of evening ambiance.
Bunk rooms are upstairs, and Janet's offers two amenities not often found in backcountry huts: Indoor composting toilets (trust me, they're wonderful compared with the cold outhouses more common in these accommodations) and a soul-soothing, sweat-inducing wood-burning sauna out back.
Hut visitors carry in their own sleeping bags and whatever victuals they'd enjoy, ranging from simple ramen packages to elaborate gourmet fare that can be cooked on the kitchen's propane burners or -- for the very skilled -- in the wood-burning stove.
The 7.5 kilometer trip is not particularly difficult, climbing only 600 meters (although the last pitch -- with the hut in sight and tauntingly close -- is a doozy, especially because you're tired and at a very high elevation.
Route-finding is relatively easy, too, although the trail gets blown in by new snow routinely, and, as a result, it often varies somewhat over the course of the winter. In general just forge your way up the Guller Creek valley, staying on the right side for the first half of the journey and crossing over to the left side for the second.
And while avalanche danger on the path to the cabin is not particularly high, everyone in the party should be equipped and know how to use an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel -- especially if you're planning to do any touring or make turns above Janet's
Reservations and information about Janet's Cabin and any of the dozens of other backcountry huts in the central mountains can be made through www.huts.org.
Note: The trip up and back to Janet's Cabin makes for a fine day tour by itself, but the facilities -- including the south-facing sun deck -- are not open to anyone without a paid reservation.
Located at treeline atop the Guller Creek valley, Janet's Cabin offers a great getaway for intrepid backcountry skiers.
The track to Janet's Cabin
Skiers return from an overnight stay at Janet's Cabin. The trail follows the Guller Creek valley to the hut, which is located just at treeline.
The main room of Janet's Cabin features a woodburning stove and wonderful bay windows, as well as picnic tables for communal dining.
The path least traveled
When it's time to get away from the hustle and bustle of the ski area, a trip to nearby Janet's Cabin is just the tonic.