Broome Hut on Second Creek nears reality
June 30, 2011
The Grand Huts Association met its $300,000 funding goal this year and is well on its way to constructing the remote high-elevation Broome Hut on Second Creek on the west side of Berthoud Pass.
Final U.S. Forest Service permitting is expected to be wrapped up within a month, and a building permit for the structure may be issued this week.
But Grand County, “hasn’t decided which building inspector will hike up there to do inspections,” joked Broome Hut Project Manager Andy Miller of Fraser. “But we’re hoping he brings a load of hardware on his way up.”
Construction of building components is under way in the Idlewild Barn, the use of which was donated to the Grand Huts organization by Rendezvous Colorado of Fraser.
There, everything is being staged in much the same way a pre-fabricated building is built. In August, a considerable construction feat will take place when components are air-lifted by helicopter to the site, which is about 800 vertical feet above the trailhead. There, the building will be assembled.
It is Miller’s hope that volunteer workers won’t come up missing building materials or tools during final construction at 11,000-plus feet in elevation, where the summer season may be short of three months.
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“It’s a healthy hump to the hardware store,” he said.
The Huts organization has relied heavily on donations of materials for the 28-by-64-foot cabin.
“We’ve had a lot of really neat community donations already to get us to this point where it is ready to be built,” Miller said. “It’s part of the green nature of the building, and it’s part of trying to use available resources.”
Such a building project on remote U.S. Forest Service land raises its share of issues. As part of Forest Service permitting, the project had to pass analyses of ptarmigan, lynx, soil disturbance, water quality, and plants. The final permit will grant permission for both the construction and operation of the hut for a period of at least 30 years, according to Mike Rickets of the U.S. Forest Service office in Granby.
The Broome Hut will sit just 100 feet from the Vasquez Wilderness, replacing the old Second Creek A-Frame that presently rests within designated wilderness.
As much as 10,000 pounds of building materials were hauled to the site in May by way of a Snowcat, including the donated septic tank and the footers for a concrete foundation. As soon as the snow melts, crews plan to prepare the site by moving plant material and alpine grasses for their preservation, Miller said. After the foundation and septic are in, revegetation of the area will take place using the same found vegetation.
“We want the site to look as natural as possible once we’re finished with it,” Miller said.
To minimize destruction of the landscape, a rubber track mini-excavator and rubber track skid steer will be used to dig a hole for the hut and septic system. Then, the helicopter day will be scheduled to move about 120,000 pounds of material from the top of Berthoud Pass to the cabin site. This includes the building’s timber frame, the center beam, crafted from a 42-inch log from a standing-dead spruce tree killed by beetles on Rendevous property. As much beetle-kill as possible will be used to finish interior spaces, Miller said, with milling of timber beams and paneling for the cabin already in progress.
If necessary, construction of the cabin will take place during this and next summer, with completion slated for fall 2012.
Named after Paul Broome, who donated $100,000 to the project, this summer’s construction schedule marks 12 years in-the-making. This year, the Sprout Foundation, a fund of the Grand Foundation, helped the Grand Huts organization meet the project’s funding goal by granting $75,000 to the cause.
The hut is designed to provide a separate space for four volunteers in addition to overnight rental quarters accommodating 16 people. The Broome Hut is intended to be the first installation of a high-elevation hut system in Grand County, tentatively mapped from Berthoud Pass to Grand Lake.
Hut reservations in Summit and Eagle counties tend to sell out by as much as a year in advance.
“There seems to be an unmet need for backcountry huts,” said Grand Huts Board Chairman Roger Hedlund. “We are excited. Once we get it done, it’s going to be an amazing asset to the community.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603