During the late 1920s and early ’30s, a small hut stood at the Boulderfield (12,750 feet) on Longs Peak in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. The Boulderfield is 5.9 miles into the Longs Peak hike and the beginning of the hike’s most difficult portion. Guests could hike or ride horseback to the Boulderfield Shelter Cabin, spend the night in a bunk with a hot meals, and climb the 14,259-foot peak in the morning, usually by the north face, which was equipped in those days with steel cables for hand rails. For two or three years during the early ’30s, Hull Cook worked at the Boulderfield Shelter Cabin. He and Clerin Zumwalt, aka Zum, became famous for their rescues on the park’s only fourteener. Hull is pictured on the left in middle picture. Each morning the guides used to shout, “Indian’s a-comin’!” as they spotted the first hikers at the edge of the Boulderfield.
As hotels go, ours was tiny and Spartan. We called it “the cabin.” There was no electricity and no running water, unless you ran while carrying it from the spring. There was also almost no privacy. It was a two-story structure, the upper floor accessed by a ladder hinged to the ceiling of the ground-floor room. By Hilton standards it was indeed small, only 14 by 18 feet, so the space had to be efficiently utilized. Upstairs, springs and mattresses were placed directly on the floor, three on each side of the stair hole, and above the stair hole was a double-decker single bed. This arrangement could accommodate 14 people in relative comfort, unless someone had to go to the bathroom during the night, in which case comfort might be called into question. He or she would have to stumble over fellow sleepers, descend the ladder and seek relief outdoors, presumably making the effort to follow the dark rocky trail to the distant privy. No lights. Possession of matches or flashlight was desirable even to find the place, and to obviate the need for a somewhat unsanitary old-fashioned pot, and although canvas curtains could be drawn between the beds, there would have been few people with the callous temerity to use it in such a setting of crowded togetherness. If you rolled over you were apt to find yourself in bed with a stranger, possibly not all that bad if it happened to be someone of the opposite sex.