Aug 03 2014

Sierra Club to add Ward Hut near Truckee


Bradley Hut - est. 1957, relocated 1995. More Bradley hut photos here.

Bradley Hut – est. 1957, relocated 1995. More Bradley hut photos here.

The last time the USFS and the Sierra Club agreed to allow man’s footprint to become established far from the road in California was in 1993. At that time the 35-year-old Bradley Hut was being removed because Congress created the Granite Chief Wilderness area and the hut was inside the new boundary. Never mind any grandfather arguments to the contrary, the new law said it had to go.

Thankfully a vocal resistance led by Marcus Libkind, founder of Snowlands.org, saved the hut in principle, and the USFS conceded to allowing it to be transferred to Pole Creek. In the long run, perhaps a lucky stroke of foresight since access to the Five-Lakes Basin where Bradley Hut used to be is now all but locked off by the borders created by KSL’s Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley plus the most direct route through White Wolf, a private ski resort still being developed.

The area under consideration for Ward Hut.

The area under consideration for Ward Hut.

Now, twenty-some years later the Sierra Club has announced their intention to build a new hut in memory of Paul F. Ward (1942-2013). Ward was a passionate outdoorsman, skier, backpacker, and fisherman. He hiked the TYT, JMT, and PCT in addition to summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 68. Remember floppy disks? He patented that idea. Now, in his memory, the Sierra Club is soliciting suggestions for locations in the Tahoe area where Paul loved to play.

Hut Criteria

Dick Simpson has been involved with the Bradley Hut for many years, overseeing the move and rebuilding of it in the late 90s. He has been tasked with spearheading the Ward Hut project. At the moment, the Sierra Club is soliciting locations. Ideally the site will meet the following criteria, in rough order of importance:

  • Be in an area familiar to Paul Ward
    within approximately 25 miles of Truckee
  • Be outside statutory Wilderness areas
    or areas likely to be candidates for future Wilderness
  • Not adversely affect natural elements such as threatened flora and fauna
  • Be safe and have ingress/egress routes that will also be safe during construction, maintenance, and use
  • Facilitate construction and maintenance but not on a heavily traveled route
  • Be on land that is either public (e.g., USFS) or in stable private ownership for the foreseeable future
  • Have good non-motorized recreation potential with minimal snowmobile conflict
  • Be within a day’s over-snow travel from a public trailhead (with suitable parking) and have good prospects for being used
  • Have water and firewood nearby
  • Be convenient for management from the Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge
  • Be within a day’s over-snow travel from another, similar hut

Existing Sierra Club Huts near Lake Tahoe.

Existing Sierra Club Huts near Lake Tahoe.

The goal is to review suggested locations by the end of September 2014 among Sierra Club officials, donors, and land managers/owners to determine two or three possible sites. Environmental studies will probably take another three years. Simpson added a cautionary note that the Sierra Club and donors may nonetheless veto the plans if it doesn’t look feasible.

Suggestions for hut locations should be submitted to Dick Simpson via email (hut-dot-coord-at-yahoo-dot-com). USFS Map tool showing public and private land.


Part of feasibility is funding. A donation account for Ward Hut has been created, and the costs of the study pledged by the Ward family and friends. Once a location has been determined and approved, the cost of building has also been pledged.

A quick view of the mountains around Truckee indicates a fair number of existing huts, ski resorts, and private land. Even so, a hut doesn’t take up much room so there is still plenty of terrain to chose from. The bigger issue will be government approval. Can it be had, and at what cost?

Interested parties are encouraged to contribute to help cover the cost of environmental studies and other hidden costs. A gift fund has been established to build the Paul Ward Sierra Club Hut. A non-tax deductible donation toward the construction of this hut can be made to:
Wells Fargo Advisors
55 S. Market St., Suite 1600
San Jose, CA 95113
Acct.# on check should be #86448152.


I hope the enthusiasm can overcome the tendency by the alphabeteaucracies to ban man wherever they can, instead offering the growing numbers of travelers in the backcountry a place to congregate and, to be frank, leave their poop in one place. That and why not have another hut you can rent and enjoy getting out of the rat race at? If you want to promote enjoying the wilderness, it is important that people experience it so they will want to protect it. But please don’t protect it to the exclusion of man’s enjoyment either. Huts are a way to manage larger numbers of people experiencing God’s great outdoors without destroying it, without loving it to death. They don’t need to be as posh as Colorado’s huts, but on the other hand, why not?

© 2014