This weekend was my 4th Annual Yurt Trip. I put it together every year and I choose a different yurt every year. This year I chose the Grizzly Ridge Yurt in the Ashley National Forest. It was one of the best rated yurts in Utah, I so I was excited.
Sadly most everyone that I invited wasn't able to go the weekend that I had reserved back in October. So it ended up just being me, Allison, Daniel (the core group that has gone every year) and Jared which was his second year. I was fine with only 4. It would still be fun. So yesterday morning we all met at Daniel's house around 11 to pack up the car and drive to Vernal (2 1/2 hours away) to begin our yurt adventure. That morning someone called me to make sure I knew how to get there (which was nice) and warned me of a few things... which made me a little nervous. It was going to be the coldest year out of all the years we have gone... but we prepared for that. What we didn't prepare for, nor could we have... was the snowshoeing we had ahead of us. I wanted to get an early start because it is a long drive to get there... but of course, we left an hour later than I wanted to, then someone had to rent their snowshoes still and then people wanted to stop and eat... bla bla bla.... we ended up getting a late start.
By the time we found the trail and started our hike, It was close to 4pm and I knew that we had a 3 mile hike in snowshoes... who knows how much of that would be uphill. I knew that we would be hiking some of it in the dark... which is what I was trying to avoid. The picture of us above... we are all smiles, because we had JUST started our hike and had no idea how hard it was going to be.
Let's start out with the positive. The sun was out and it wasn't snowing... we could have had windy snow in our faces as we hiked. I also really appreciated that the trail was very well marked so we knew we were on the right path. In past years... that has certainly not been the case. Jared and I also used those markers on the trees of when we would stop and rest... especially towards the end when we started to get really tired.
Not only was it the coldest it has been on any of our yurt trips so far (17 degrees) but also the most snow... so we sunk about a foot every step we took... which makes the hike a lot slower. You feel like you have been hiking a lot longer than you actually have. Jared and I complained a lot... especially towards the end after it got dark. I felt like we were never going to get there. Once the sun went down, the temperature dropped fast. My hair started to freeze and so did my sweat... so I started to get pretty cold and cramp up a little and started losing energy. If you are not careful, that can get dangerous... so thinking about that also freaked me out. Thankfully we found the yurt not too much longer. Daniel found a short cut up a steep hill that I really didn't think I was going to be able to get up in my snowshoes and backpack and lack of energy... but I eventually made it up. Even when I saw the yurt, you would think I would rush there and get inside... but I still didn't have the energy for that. I still had to stop and rest a couple times before I actually got there. It was brutal.
Once we got inside, I was so happy. I took off my back and lied down on the bed. Although I was super happy to finally be in the yurt... I quickly realized that it is still freezing inside the yurt (it got down to -17 that night). Daniel was trying to get the fire going in the wood stove, but it wasn't working great. I don't know if the flue needed to be cleaned or what... but it was open and we would get a fire going... but as soon as we shut the glass door, the fire would go out. If we left it open, it would smoke up the yurt. It took an hour to get it going to the point where it actually stayed and we could close the door to the stove. We were all SO cold, but thank goodness Daniel had the patience to keep at it until it worked. After that, it still was going to take a while to warm the yurt. I got in my sleeping bag just waiting for the yurt to warm up because I was so cold I couldn't take it. Thankfully we had a good group that through the crappy situations, we could laugh it off and joke about it. We kept reassuring ourselves that it was getting warmer in the yurt even though it didn't feel like it. We then decided the real celebration would come when we stopped seeing our breath. It took a couple hours after the hour it took to get the fire going... but we finally got to that point. Once the yurt warmed up... we were all very happy. We made our dinners and could take off a couple layers and play games and enjoy ourselves now. NOW the yurt was cozy. This yurt even had the best beds out of all the yurts I have stayed in. Real mattresses. We were feeling great. There were 2 bunks that were doubles.. so 8 people could have fit and since there were only 4 of us, we could have each gotten our own bed, but everyone wanted to sleep on the bottom bunk. So... Jared set up his sleeping bag next to mine and Allison and Daniel slept next to each other on the other one. Even though we were all comfortable, I don't think anyone slept very well except for Jared. I know that Jared slept well because he was snoring in my ear most of the night... which is why I didn't sleep very well. Daniel didn't sleep very well because he set his alarm to go off every hour so that he could make sure the fire was still going and put more wood on (what a trooper) and Allison didn't sleep very well because... well... she was next to Daniel who was getting up every hour. But at least we were warm huh? I'd rather not get much sleep and be warm than be cold and not get much sleep.
We took our time getting up the next morning. We chilled in the yurt for a few hours before we finally packed up and decided to make the hike back to the car. It took us between 2 1/2 - 3 hours to hike up there. We figured it would take us an hour to hike down. It was mostly downhill anyway. What we didn't take into consideration was how windy it was last night. It was super windy. What does that mean? Well... all of the open spaces with not many trees around (which there were a lot of areas like that) all the snow got blown over our tracks and was no longer packed down from us hiking up. Not only that... but it was warmer today than it was yesterday. What that means is that the snow was very powdery, but still really deep. At first the path was alright, but it didn't take long before every step we took we were sinking in to at least our knees. I fell in the snow 4 times... and with snow shoes and a backpack on, getting up out of the snow when you fall in deep isn't the easiest task.. plus then I was wet and cold from having snow all over me. Miles of this... it gets old really fast. We were all VERY frustrated. I wasn't the only one that fell in either... I think everyone did at least once. Although it was mostly downhill, it was a very frustrating 3 miles back. You know it is bad when Daniel get's upset to the point of swearing. That happened. What we thought was going to take an easy hour ended up being a very frustrating and difficult hour and 45 minute hike back to the car. We were all SO happy to be in the car and I didn't want to snowshoe again until next Winter. Ha ha.
With as difficult as it was, we were kind of glad that it was a smaller group and I was also glad we were a group that could laugh through our frustrations. It was hard and very frustrating... but I am still glad we did it and I will do it again next year... if anyone wants to come back after this. ha ha. We actually all decided we would only go again if Daniel was going to be there. He helped us all survive. He is a champ. Cheers to another successful yurt trip! Until next year...