It’s morning. The view around Brew Hut looks a lot like a rip off of a wraparound HD TV nature program. Or maybe it was the other way around-I can’t remember. On one hand, the view from the top floor window looks a lot like a little square of Technicolour mountains being beamed straight into my neurons. On the other, the heaviness in my legs feel pretty real. It’s a good time to take a breather from your busy life and taken in the pinky-violet skies without deeper thoughts-maybe not so much to realize you forgot to pack a breakfast for the hike back.
Brew Hut was my first glimpse into the VOC, so for others who are unfamiliar and need convincing, here’s how it goes: we attend a pre trip meeting to confirm sign up, take out gear in exchange for a workhike, are emailed the finalized carpool plans, and promise to arrive on time at the chosen hour. Everything runs smoothly, and all you have to do is meet up with your car, probably in the early hours of the morning. Or in this case, the Jeep. Then the adventure starts.
I have never been in a Jeep, so when I first got into the middle back seat of Roland’s Jeep, I was unprepared for the bouncy ride that ultimately was scarier than the hike itself. “In the winter we ski here,” Roland starts with a mischievous glint in his eyes. Yeah, we can see the drop on our left with our own eyes-yet we are still somehow convinced this is a spot we must come back to come winter, despite the sharp turns and loose rocks. Climbing more elevation than a beginner would ever want to on foot, we arrived at the trailhead unscathed.
“Have any of you backpacked before?” asked Carla.
I suspected I was the only one who had backpacked only once before.
Not to worry. The hike up to Brew Hut, in the summer, is pretty easy at a relaxing clip. It’s also beautiful. “Aren’t their alpine meadows?” asked Andrew suspiciously. We were in some trees.
“You could say that.”
In fact, there was. The alpine meadow was probably the coolest thing I’d never seen on the way to Brew Hut. There are huge rocks, seemingly at odds with the cheerily green vegetation as if they were dropped there. But they weren’t. “It started as a rock garden,” says Roland after being consulted. “So before all the green stuff..it was rocks.” Pretty cool.
Over some trees, rocks, water and alpine meadows about 2.5-3 hours later (depending if you include our faffing), we arrived at Brew Hut.
As I stepped into Brew Hut the sheer amount of stuff struck me. Knickknacks, all hanging purposefully on table tops and ledges, filled the room. Multiple volumes of VOC published anthologies sat respectfully on a bookshelf, just like a bookshelf at home. Lamps, safety equipment, leftover food…there was no shortage of useful stuff. And yet everything seemed to be in its place. The combination of the slightly battered looks and banquet-long table waiting for us to sit on it were a homage to the history of VOCers who had shaped its daily life.
The hut became a bustling metropolis as we filed in and dropped our tired butts on the bench. The addition of eight bodies transformed the empty space into a bustling kitchen.
We inducted a Coleman stove to the menagerie.
Dinner was an interesting affair. Goods included instant noodles, precooked foil wrapped gourmet food, candle-roasted marshmallows and freeze dried food (all courtesy of the stove.) Point of warning as a reward for reading thus far: BUCKETS THAT SCOOP ROTTEN MATTER MAKE FOR POOP WATER. As we were finishing off our food, slightly drowsy, we realized that someone had taken the poop scooping buckets for the outhouse and used them to carry water up from the small lake below the hut. Needless to say, there is now ample warning attached to the buckets for the next foragers up to Brew.
Night rolled around and those of us who chose to believe that there was going to be Northern Lights tonight stood outside waiting for the last light to creep away past the “alcoholic” mountains. Disappointed after nothing showed, we went back inside to stake our territories in the attic, where there was ample room with only four of us upstairs. There were already a few sleeping mats sitting in neat piles in far end. Instead of unrolling mine, I dragged one to my chosen corner and promptly fell asleep.
Yeah, I had no dreams-a pretty peaceful sleep-that night.