Painted Desert

Painted Desert

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

To the yurt

A couple weeks ago I got to go on a snowshoeing trip to a yurt. It was pretty warm in Denver, but we were assured that there was plenty of snow up in the mountains. It was a looooong drive. But here we are, ready to start out.

Click on any picture for a larger version.

Hiking up the trail:

Cheeto break:

While there had only been maybe 4 inches of snow around the parking lot, there were a couple feet up at the yurt, which was just 2 miles uphill. Amazing. A yurt, by the way, is a circular-frame tent. Here is the inside of the yurt:

With a very small cooking area:

And bunks... my camera decided to make this photo super-saturated, and I left it that way:

We are eating pumpkin pancakes.

It was good to have six people there, because there was more work to do than on a typical camping trip... shoveling, feeding the woodstove, constantly gathering snow to melt for water... firewood was provided, but had to be split to smaller pieces. And since a two-burner propane stove with a full complement of dishes was provided, we had real meals, which meant lots of cooking and dish washing.

I have never needed to drink snowmelt before, and I have to say... snow looks pristine, but it is actually full of tiny bits of tree and dust and elk hairs.

Here are some photos of the surroundings, and of us having winter fun:

There was a rustic outhouse, which I took lots of pictures of, because it seemed like something out of a coffee-table book. About outhouses.

Here is my snow creation, and below it, Mike's:

Before hiking out.

As we started our hike out, we came upon a party with an injured skier. The skier was unable to walk and they were trying to tow her on a sled made out of skis, which wasn't working very well. We tried to help them reinforce the sled. Below, see the injured skier in background, her leg splinted with sticks, sleeping pad, and ace bandage, and "sled" with sticks and some small bits of twine in foreground. We had maybe a foot of duct tape amongst us. I don't usually bring duct tape if I'm only going to be 2 miles from the car... that's not too far to walk with a broken pack strap, right? (And come on, how often do you have to forge a sled out of three skis? I bet you've never even done it once.) We returned to the yurt to check the first aid box for tape, but it was filled with playing cards.

Tim and Mike carried out the packs of the injured skier and the person towing her. One member of our party, who was a nurse, stayed behind with the skiing party and I hiked down with Tim and Mike.

Our walk out was very beautiful. We hadn't gotten to see any scenery on the way in, the snow was so thick. Now the sun was out. Sort of.

As we were walking, some snowmobiles with a rescue sled came up. They brought the injured skier down and soon we were in the parking lot. However, in our tremendous foresight, we had left the keys for the vehicles with the people who had been onerously pulling the skier and were still a mile back. So we stood in the cold a while and waited for them to come down. The poor skier shivered and shivered in her rescue sled.

On the drive back down, we passed three cars that had skidded off the road. The first two were already being helped by emergency personnel. The last we found after dark, and first saw it as bright reflectors beaming back at us from the river, 20 feet below the road. We stopped near another a truck that had pulled over and asked if we should call 911. But another 45 minutes later, we still had no cell phone service, and pulled into a bar to ask to use their phone. We were told that 911 had already been called and that the two women who had been in the car were having a beer in the bar. This made me wonder what the poor person waiting by the river was doing. Or whether, perhaps, there was yet a fourth car off the road somewhere that we had missed.

We shall never know. The rest of the drive back to Denver was uneventful. I leave you with a photo taken on the drive out of the mountains, before the sun set...