Snow levels are high at the Frog Lake Huts in Truckee this season - we had to dig a staircase down to get into the huts this year!
So, you're headed into the Frog Lake Backcountry Ski Huts in Truckee?! The first thing you might be wondering is "what do I need to bring?!"
The Frog Lake Huts are unlike any other backcountry ski huts in California, and maybe even the world. They offer upscale amenities, and the setup of the huts is unique, so knowing what is available and what you should bring is different than other hut trips.
First of all, the huts aren't just a couple of independent, self-contained huts with comfortable beds. They are a compound of buildings that work together to provide an interesting living situation with communal cooking and dining, but with separate sleeping quarters. It's really the best of both worlds: you get to mingle and socialize with other random backcountry skiers and riders, without having to listen to them snore!
The Frog Lake Huts compound consists of guest sleeping huts, a large, communal building, and a number of older huts that are for TDLT use only. were the original structures built in the 1930s. One of the older huts has been refurbished into the Hut Master's quarters and the others are used for storage of various sorts for the Truckee Donner Land Trust ("TDLT" who own the property and created the new Frog Lake Huts).
The largest structure on the property is the Eschenbach House, which is the centerpiece of the huts compound. This building contains a commercial kitchen, dining room and lounge, map room, half bathroom and a second story loft (which has become the main entrance to this building in 2023 with our massive snow this year!).
When you arrive at the huts, you are usually greeted by the Hut Master. They will help you can settle into the hut space that you rented, show you where to store your food, and provide you with hut booties for your stay. You're welcome to hang out in the Eschenbach House whenever you'd like and the Hut Master will typically have a fire going in the fireplace by afternoon or early evening.
So, what should I pack for a Frog Lake Huts trip?
The kitchen is incredible, even when compared to kitchens in urban settings. It is a fully stocked, commercial kitchen - keep reading for a full inventory of the setup!
The Frog Lake Huts have a full commercial kitchen, so it makes sense to suffer a bit with a heavy pack to have some real-deal, fresh food! If you’re feeling weighed down by the wieght and bulk of your food, consider hiring a porter. Porters carry 45 lbs of food/beer/gear/anything reasonable that you want, which can make your trip an incredible experience without throwing out your back! A key note here is that porters are not guides or consultants - they just meet you, grab your stuff, and carry it in for you. If you’re looking for a guide, we’d be happy to work with you at the Frog Lake Huts and we have many options available!
Food items that are normally stocked by the Truckee Donner Land Trust at the huts are:
- Olive oil
- A variety of miscellaneous spices.
- Fresh Ground Coffee
- Assortment of breakfast and decaffeinated teas
Food items that are not stocked at the Frog Lake Huts:
Butter, baking powder, flour, sugar and soy sauce are not available at the Frog Lake Huts. If your meals require those items, pack ‘em in!
The ability to make great food is a highlight of the Frog Lake Huts in Truckee. Bringing in your favorite Apres beverage adds icing to the cake!
Your Favorite Apres Ski Beverage
Beer, wine or other alcoholic drinks can be a nice way to end a long day of ski touring, so consider packing in your favorite apres ski beverage. If you’d rather save your back, the TDLT has tall boys of our local brewers in Truckee, 50/50 Brewing. Beers are $10 + tax, so they come out to over $11/each and are billed to the credit card of the person who booked the huts. The best value without compressing your vertibrae for budget minded skiers and riders is to bring in a nice whiskey or your favorite hard alcohol.
Of course, if you don’t drink or just don’t want to, there are also a selection of hot teas available at the huts an coffee is supplied by TDLT and prepared fresh each morning by the Hut Master. Hot Chocolate is not provided, so if you want cocoa, bring a few packets along.
The Frog Lake Huts guest cabins are very comfortable and the ammenities are unmatched in backcountry lodging. There are 3 guest cabins with different floor plans, but they all share similar construction and ammenities. The Ted R Cabin has bunks for 8 people, the Rockwood has two sides, each with capacity for 4 people and the Morgan hut has two sides, with capacity for 2 people on each side. Each side of the Morgan and Rockwood huts are rented separately.
Relaxing on a bunk at the Frog Lake Huts. This shot shows one half of the Ted R hut, which sleeps 8 people in a large communal room. Snow creeping to the top of the first story window! March 18, 2023.
Amenities at each of the Frog Lake Huts Guest Cabins include:
- Propane heaters with thermostats.
- Flush Toilets.
- Sinks with hot and cold running, potable water.
- Hand soap and paper towels.
- Sturdy bunks with mattresses.
- Windows with blinds
- Drying racks for gloves and gear
- Tables and chairs
- Small cubbies for keeping gear separated
- 120V outlets with USB ports for charging devices
Beds at the Frog Lake Huts have thick foam mattresses with waterproof covers. While the covers certainly make them more sanitary, they aren’t the very comfortable to sleep directly on top of. There are no pillows or linens provided by the Huts, so its nice to bring in lightweight options for these designed for backpackers.
Here are a few items that I find make sleeping at the Frog Lake Huts a little bit nicer:
- Inflatable pillow (you can use a buff as a pillow case or pack in a pillow case and add some of your puffy jacket layers to make your pillow bigger).
- A fitted twin mattress sheet. The huts are warm, especially if you’re on the top bunk of the 8 Person Ted R Hut. It’s nice to be able to use your sleeping bag more like a blanket and sleep on a sheet!
- Ear Plugs. If you’re in the Ted R or either side of the Rockwood Hut (which sleeps 4 people on each side), chances are that you’ll be with someone who snores! Ear plugs can go a long way to avoiding a restless night.
- A Light Sleeping Bag. You don’t need a full-on winter sleeping bag for this trip - this isn’t the Benson Hut! Depending on how warm/cold of a sleeper you are, where you choose your bunk (top or bottom), and what your hut-mates want to set the thermostat at, you can get away with a fairly light sleeping bag. We find that 35F degree bags suit a wide range of sleepers. If you’re coming in with a Blackbird trip, you don’t need a sleeping bag- we have them cached for you at camp. You just need a sleeping bag liner or flat sheet to keep the bags clean.
Medical and Rescue Gear
Backcountry skiers and riders should always be prepared to be self-sufficient in the backcountry. The Frog Lake Huts and surrounding terrain are remote, and a relatively small injury could become a serious issue without the right gear and training. We encourage everyone travelling without a guide to have:
- A Current Wilderness First Aid Course
- Minimum AIARE 1, but ideally an Avalanche Rescue Course and AIARE 2.
- A First Aid Kit that is provisioned to stabilize a serious accident.
- Avalanche Safety Gear (Beacon, Probe, Shovel)
The Truckee Donner Land Trust has large medical kits in the main lodge (the Eschenbach House). Please don’t rely on these kits for small incidents as it is difficult to keep them properly stocked if they are picked apart. Use your own first aid kits when possible and save the trauma kits for when they’re truly needed! If you do use items from a kit, make sure to tell the hut keeper what you used so that they can note it and restock the kits when necessary.
What not to bring
Limit the food garbage you bring in to the huts. With the exception of burnable garbage (paper, cardboard, and some food items) you have to pack out all of your trash! Some containers like cardboard boxes for crackers are helpful to keep delicate foods from being smashed and can easily be burned after use, but things like glass bottles and jars and plastic boxes can be a lot to pack out.
Cooking utensils, silverware, serving dishes and plates, bowls, and cups. These are all provided by the Land Trust, so don’t bother bringing in any of those items. To help make sure you don’t pack in anything unnecessary:
Here is a comprehensive list of the kitchen supplies at the Frog Lake Huts:
- A commercial propane stove with 8 large burners.
- 2 Full-sized Ovens
- A Large, flat commercial griddle (Perfect for eggs, hashbrowns, breakfast sandwiches and more)
- A Large Refrigerator
- A Large Freezer (seems to be working this year…)
- Drip Coffee Maker
- Multiple Large Sinks for filling pots and doing dishes
- An Electric Toaster (a standard 2 slice toaster)
- An Electric Water Kettle, 1.5 Liter
- Multiple pots of various sizes
- Pans of various sizes, some Teflon, some Cast Iron
- 1 Wok
- Can opener
- Knives: Large chef’s knives, pairing knives, bread knives, a cleaver and plenty of butter knives
- Spoons: Metal serving/stirring spoons, soup spoons,tea spoons, wooden spoons, ladels, spatulas
- Forks: dinner forks
- Juicer/Lemon Squeezer
- Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons
- Bowls: Mixing Bowls, Salad Bowls, Soup/cereal bowls
- Plates: large dinner plates
- Cups: Coffee/tea cups, juice cups and plastic, stemless wineglasses
- Baking Sheets
- Oven Mitts
Miscellaneous items that are also provided by the TDLT are:
- Toilet Paper
- Paper Towels
- Dish and Hand Soap
- Sponges and cleaning supplies
If there’s something you’re wondering about, please feel free to reach out! We’d be happy to fill you in if we know!