A soft but unrelenting snore woke me up. I opened my eyes and took in darkness, except for the glow of stars and moonlight shining outside the window across the room. Careful not to step on any of my eight friends sleeping near me, I quietly tiptoed downstairs to make coffee. It was 5am, I had hours to lounge in the warmth of the hut before stepping outside to watch the before the sunrise next to Mt. Rainer.
The previous day, my friends and I hiked the 4 miles to “check in” to Bruni’s Snow Bowl Hut. The hut is named for Brunhilde (Bruni) Wislicenus, a passionate mountaineer and wilderness skier whose generous monetary donation helped rebuild the original hut after a fire burnt it down in 2007.
Bruni’s hut is one of 3 that visitors can hike to and reserve for overnight stays, and there is approximately 50 miles of trails (20 miles that are groomed in the winter) to explore on. The area is the largest no fee Hut-to-Hut Trail System in North America for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and it’s operated and managed by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association.
After our first overnight trip last year, we were all stoked to pack our bags, strap on our snowshoes and start the climb to the most luxurious ‘hut’ we had visited. The hut rests atop a ridge at 4,250 feet with magnificent views of Washington’s most beautiful volcanoes; Mount Rainer, Mt. Adams and Mt. St Helens. On a clear day, you can circle around the hut and see all 3.
The hut rests atop a ridge at 4,250 feet with magnificent views of Washington’s most beautiful volcanoes; Mount Rainer, Mt. Adams and Mt. St Helens. On a clear day, you can circle around the hut and see all 3.
Bruni’s Snow Bowl Hut with Mt. Rainer in the background.
The huts are no secret, so reservations during the winter season fill up fast. Here are some practical tips for booking, the hike and hut, what to expect and what to pack on a trip to Bruni’s Snow Bowl Hut.
How to Book:
You can reserve your overnight stay on the MTTA (Mount Tahoma Trails Association) website here. Miraculously, a night at the hut will cost you less than a traditional campsite and I promise you’ll wake up to better views. It’s $15 well spent.
Need to Know:
Hut Etiquette: The hut sees hundreds of guests each winter season and is maintained by volunteers so it’s important to follow a few rules and leave the hut in a clean condition for the next guests.
Marmot Women’s sleeping bag – The hut stays warm with the propane fireplace so I ended up mostly sleeping on top of my bag rather than inside.
Leslie Carvitto is a freelance writer and photographer based in Seattle, WA. She is fueled by creativity, community, coffee and the great outdoors. Find more of her work at Forever Stoked and follow her travels on Instagram.