Ski huts are ubiquitous in Europe. They’re common in Canada.
But here in the USA, not so much.
The Rendezvous Huts, located in the sublime mountains that rise above Washington’s Methow Valley, are a time-honored exception to the rule. Enoch & Shandra Kraft built the first two huts—on the Methow’s Diamond T Ranch—back in 1980. Today, there are five huts (all now on US Forest Service Land), and in winter, they are generally accessed via cross-country skis, although one affords access via fat bike and one via snowshoe trail.
In 2013, Ben and Virginia Nelson, then residents of Fairbanks, Alaska, purchased the huts and created a new life for themselves in the Methow with their three-month-old son Oliver. It was a labor of love, an expression of their passion for the outdoors.
But it wasn’t easy.
“The beginning days meant working multiple jobs in the Methow while juggling the huts,” says Virginia. “For Ben, it was working in the brewery of Old Schoolhouse Brewery, and for me, it was working as an assistant at multiple office jobs and later owning and running the local print shop in Winthrop.”
The huts are situated along the Methow’s 125-mile trail system, one of the finest cross-country ski trail networks in the US. In part, the hut locations were chosen for their relatively easy accessibility (the folks at Methow Trails groom the trails) and low avalanche risk. The Nelsons offer a freight-hauling option for those who prefer not to carry a heavy pack. All huts include propane lights, stove, and oven, as well as cookware and utensils, and are kept toasty thanks to wood stoves (firewood provided). Outhouses are located close by.
The Nelsons respect the legacy and traditions associated with the huts over the past 40-plus years. “We’ve kept the bones of the huts intact,” Virgina Nelson explains. “Guests appreciate that the vibe is the same as they’ve always known it.” Some guests, she says, have been coming every year since the 1980s.
These days, the huts are also open to hikers in the summer. Keeping them booked through the summer helps keep vandalism down and critters at bay.
For Ben and Virginia, it’s always been about family. “We now have two kids—Oliver is ten, and Lumi is six,” Virginia says. “They love their life here in the Methow; it’s pretty idyllic. Oliver visited the huts more as a baby—we strapped him onto the snowmobile in his car seat those first couple of years—and he is starting to come around to actually helping now. He does a pretty good job stacking wood for winter in the sheds up there—and there is a lot of wood to be stacked!
“We just love seeing return guests come back again and again,” Virginia says. “It’s a really special set of cabins with a significant history in the Methow Valley. We are so appreciative of the support we’ve received from locals and non-locals who just want to help keep the huts going.”
More info: www.rendezvoushuts.com