Although I’ve had the pleasure of living in Truckee/Tahoe for many years, I had not visited any of the Sierra Club huts until recently. Thankfully, I have friends that actually plan things, and one of those awesome babes put in a request for four midweek days in December at the Bradley Hut, and scored a reservation! This past year, I’ve been embracing adventure, and when she invited me on this trip, I welcomed the opportunity. My schedule only permitted me to stay for one night, but it was well worth it.
Homegirl L. at the Bradley Hut trailhead. Weather was perfect and we were stoked!
On a beautiful bluebird day, I met my homegirl L. at the trailhead and we began getting our splitboards and bags ready for the 4.7-mile skin into the hut. After doing the pre-requisite beacon check, we began the walk up the fire road. Although it’s a few miles to the hut (with 1,723 ft elevation gain), the elevation gain is gradual, and the wide fire road allows for side-by-side touring, which means opportunity to talk. We got through the basics and then began diving deep into topics covering the range of mortality and mental health to sharing some of our favorite moments and enlightening experiences of the last year. On a small downhill stretch, we got to practice our awkward split skiing, and managed to stay upright (maybe those balance poses in yoga are paying off?). We also saw some bobcat tracks – it looked pretty big, and I was excited to maybe catch a glimpse of this fabulous creature.
Lunch break in the sun!
Around the 2-mile mark, we crossed the bridge over Pole Creek and decided it was a good spot for a snack break. As we were packing up, we heard a familiar voice and looked up to see our pal J. skiing down the road. We knew she was leaving that day, so we were glad to have met on the road – we spent about 30 minutes catching up, drank a cider, and then parted ways. The next mile was heads down and crushing, before needing a break to deal with some uncomfortable boots and taking photos of the sparkling snow-covered forest. The last slog got us to the hut, which was a welcome sight!
The forest is so beautiful back here!
Bradely Hut – a sight for sore legs!
The skis and splitboard outside the hut told us the rest of the party was back after their tour – so we hastily removed our gear and got in the hut, where much hugging/reuniting/introductions ensued.
Inside Truckee-Tahoe’s Bradley Hut
For those of you who haven’t been to the Bradley Hut – it’s awesome. The design is simple, but elegant and efficient. Upstairs is a large sleeping loft with a small covered porch. Downstairs, the open main room consists of a kitchen corner, a wood burning stove, two picnic tables, a bench, many hooks to hang gear, a hanging rack around the wood burning stove, and a boot rack by the stove. There is a room on the right side of the main room which is filled with firewood to be burned. The room on the left side of the main room has firewood curing for next year as well as kindling.
Bradley Hut upstairs – sleeping quarters.
Bradley Hut downstairs – everything you could ask for!
Outside is a two-story outhouse. (I hadn’t seen one before and was curious when I read about it. At ground level is a door with a pit toilet – like any other toilet at a campground. However, when snow levels are high enough to bury the ground level door, there is a second story door. Open that door onto a small platform, then walk down a ladder to the ground level toilet. Good engineering design.) Water at the hut is provided by melting snow – gathered from the EAST side of the hut. Snow on the WEST side of the hut is for midnight bio breaks that don’t make it to the outhouse, spitting toothpaste, emptying dirty dish water, etc. I’m an environmental engineer – my job is literally dealing with drinking water and wastewater, so I am always curious about this aspect of infrastructure. 😊
We weren’t sure what the hut was equipped with, so we brought too many things. BUT, for those of you heading out there, I’m about to drop some knowledge: the kitchen had a Coleman stove with spare gas canisters, big and small pots, plates, utensils, cups, etc. Next time I go there, I won’t bring my Jetboil, but I’ll probably still bring my own plate, spork and cup (comfort with my own germs). There was also a guitar (not sure on how tuned it was), and best of all, there was a pair of large hut Crocs – perfect for slipping on over your slippers/socks if you need to head outside and want no part in putting ski/snowboard boots back on over your blistered feet. The hut is also lighted with electric lights, powered by a solar panel, so headlamps are good for outside and reading in the upstairs area, but there’s no need to bring smaller lanterns for internal light.
After we got our packs unloaded, and sleeping bags set up, we prepared a communal dinner for the 5 of us. Much tea was drank and many stories were shared before we all decided to call it a night. Thanks to the efficiency of the wood stove and the vigilance of my friends who randomly fed the fire, the hut stayed pretty warm all night.
Easy tour straight out of the hut.
Lady shred crew scoping the terrain and the view. #sisterhoodofshred
Backcountry skiing near the Bradley Hut
The next morning was a little windy, but a couple of the ladies got up early to get in a larger shred objective, while a few of us stayed in the hut for a leisurely morning with coffee and oatmeal. We finally got our gear together and heard a knock on the door – my friend R. hadn’t been able to stay the night, but she got up early that morning, skinned up the road to the hut and joined us for the day. The four of us took a short tour (~ 20-30 min skinning) across the meadow south of the hut and up a small hill. At the top of the hill, we transitioned, checked in via radio with the other gals, and then took some super fun turns on the northeast aspect, where we found soft snow and a couple roller bumps to jump off of. We came back to the hut to meet the other gals and eat some bacon, before we packed up our belongings and cleaned up the hut.
Sure is pretty in these woods. Aaaanddd touring with a full pack on is a little challenging. 😉
Since they had time constraints, 4 of the ladies decided to skin out to the trailhead via the road, but R. and I decided to take an adventure tour back to the trailhead, in the hopes of getting some fun turns as well. We parted ways, and then R. and I began our tour. It approximately paralleled the road, and we found some fun turns along the way. We also found some variable snow conditions, including wind buff and Sierra cement, and attempting to shred with a full backpack on was interesting to say the least. 😊 However, we had fun and made it back to the trailhead before dark. Another cider was shared and we made plans for our next tour.
R. and I enjoying our day adventuring back to the trail head.
I am looking forward to including more of the Sierra Club huts in my life and am planning to participate in an autumn work party this coming year to help stock a hut. I highly recommend the Bradley Hut – it’s quite reasonable to get to and the terrain you can access from it is super fun!
I’m planning to carry all this to the hut? What am I thinking?!
Map of Approach
Bradley Hut Trip Packing List
Splitboard, skins, poles, boots
Helmet, goggles, spare lenses
Balaclava, mittens, touring gloves
Backpack, touring pack
Beacon, shovel, probe
Headlamp, spare batteries
First aid kit, hand warmers
Multi-tool, ski straps, cordelette
Socks (2 pair)
Thermals, tech tee
Underwear (2 pair)
Sports bra, lounge bra
Vest, puffy coat
Bibs, touring jacket
Sunglasses, ball cap
Beanie, hut slippers
Sleeping bag liner
Phone charger, cable
Sunscreen, face lotion
Deodorant, wet wipes
Contact case w/solution, glasses, extra contacts
Inhaler, ibuprofen, immodium
Toilet paper (2 rolls) (There was no TP at the Bradley Hut when I headed out there, and leaving extra for future guests is nice.)
Plate, utensils, cup
JetBoil, fuel, matches (NOT NEEDED for Bradley Hut)
Food (2 days/1 night):
Dinner – Indian food & pre-cooked rice
Breakfast – oatmeal
Tea, coffee, emergen-C