“Backcountry hut” can be interpreted many ways: a shack built by ski bums deep in the forest, a musty wooden structure filled with bunk beds on the side of a mountain, or, in the case of the Bonnie Belle Cabin, a rustic home 12,000 feet above sea level that’s nicer than my apartment.
The cabin is nestled in the San Juan Mountains in Southwestern Colorado and is accessible only by foot, 4X4, ATV, or dirt bike (your Subaru won’t cut it). Fifteen miles north of Silverton, it’s near the Animas River and ringed by San Juans like Cinnamon and Whitecross mountains and Niagra, Hanson, and Handies peaks, far from any other development. Open June 1 through September 30, the cabin rents for $400 (which sounds steep, but $50 a night per person isn’t half bad), and has three bedrooms, a full kitchen (sans running water), a solar camp-style shower, a grill and woodstove, and, of course, a stereo system. You’ll have to pack in your own drinking water, food, bedding, and beer, but otherwise you’re set.
If you’ve never seen the San Juans, these mountains are well worth the trek it takes to get to them, which typically involves either a tiny airport or a huge drive. In the summer, fly fishing, climbing, hiking, and bagging fourteeners are all on the should-do list. That said, the cabin is perfectly set up for relaxing days. Situated in a gorgeous alpine meadow with two porches, a day of reading on the porch, cooking delicious food, and exploring the nearby terrain would be a day well spent.
Bonnie Belle books far in advance, but you can check availability here.
Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.