Saturday, March 14, 2009

Yurt Expedition in March

An Experience in Backpacking,
Yurting, & Cross Country Skiing....

Well, it was with no set of small hesitation that I started this adventure. I mean the last time I went backpacking; the result was three grownups, and a dog in a borrowed two man tent. I figured that I wouldn't be far from civilization being at the top of Millcreek Canyon. So I thought things can't get too bad. So what the HELL?!?

We left on Monday morning from Bee's house about 10am-ish. I have to tell you that 4.5 miles, my fourth time being on cross country skis, and a 30lb. backpack on your back is quite a workout indeed! Polly (sled in tow)quickly left us in the dust. And the "Mighty Dog" Bingo with his 4"legs really put the rest of us to shame. (Above Photo at right: The "Mighty" Bingo) I think that Henry's male ego really had an issue that a dog beat him to the top.

(Above Photo: Henry showing some attitude!)

(Above Photo: Henry and Bee laden with backpacks with Astra moving up the canyon road.)
I quickly felt I was way over my head as Bee and Henry often ended up waiting for me. (Thanks guys!) I, also, discovered that I had put my sleeping bag in the wrong place on the backpack. They were able to get me fixed up on the way up, as we pressed on towards the top. About 3/4 of the way up, the snow really started to come down. I was glad that I had packed everything in plastic bags. About this time I started to experience my feet hurting. The nearest that I could describe the feeling---"hot foot"; which some of my bicycling friends could understand. The last 40 yards to the yurt I was almost in tears. I ended up taking the cross country skis off and walking the rest of the way. Amazing Polly had the yurt nice and warm. They had me sit down take my boots off and elevating my feet. My feet were all swollen. Strange!

(Above Photos: Polly-face hidden, and Henry with Bee in background at the table in yurt. And me reading about a light stick to Henry with the wood burning stove in background.)
It was all nice and comfy in the yurt, and I was surprised at how large it was inside. It sleeps eight. There was enough bunk bed areas for 6 and I guess the other two were supposed to sleep on the floor? You cook on the flat top surface of the wood burning stove. The first night, Henry and I were in charge of dinner. We made Potato Soup, Backpacker's Pad Thai, and my Homemade Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie Bars for dessert. Food never tastes as good as after a 4.5 mile workout up a canyon with a 30lb. weight on your back. Why is that?

The whole night it snowed and it was still going when I got up at 5:30am. We were melting snow for water so while everyone else was asleep in the morning, I re stoked the fire and started getting water for our morning meals. It seemed only fair since I slept like a log through the night and everyone else got up through the night to re stoke the fire. Oh the view from the yurt was simply beautiful with all of the fresh snow!
(Photo: THEE view from the yurt on Tuesday morning!)

(Above Photos: The happier skiers and myself and "Mighty" Bingo keeping warm in the yurt. AND Below Photos: Bee enjoying the day on skis, and Polly in a self portrait shot--silly gal!)

The next day after breakfast we ventured out to do some Cross Country Skiing. Everyone one but me had three opportunities but I was a "woosh" the first time. My hands were not getting warm in my gloves. The second time I did venture out only to reach my limit of three falls! One of which I was flat on my back with the skis pointing straight up. They told me I made a cute Snow Angel, but I didn't really believe them. Thank goodness I had the camera, or you really would have seen what kind of fool I CAN really look like. The third time of venturing out for some more skiing, I stayed indoors with the "Mighty" Bingo. We were really nice and toasty in the yurt while the others were out.

The second night, Polly and Bee were responsible for the dinner. We started off with grilled vegetables that had been marinated in a vinaigrette served with crackers and cheese. The main course was a pesto with sun dried tomatoes with pasta. Homemade espresso truffles were made for dessert. Well, I did break my Lent and have one of the espresso truffles. It was delicious! When we weren't making meals in the yurt we were reading, or chatting about all kinds of things. It really was a most relaxing time away from the electronics of the world.(Above Photo at right--Astra wiped out from a day of playing in the snow. The poor gal!)

On the way down, Polly offered to take my backpack in the sled behind here. The wonderful gal! Then, Bee, the other wonderful gal, offered to take my skis down until the road leveled out. Did I mention that I have a terrible time with going downhill on cross country skis? Bee, and I left a little earlier than Polly and Henry who stayed to do the final cleaning of the yurt. (Such Troopers!) Bee and I started down. About a half mile down we started seeing fresh moose tracks with another smaller tracks. It looked like there was a Mom and her little one. Made me a little nervous, but we continued down, keeping our eyes peeled. We got to a flat area, and I put on the skis. Another mile down the road off to the side of the road we saw HUGE Mama Moose! She was probably 1400lbs! We backed up the road and decided to wait and see what happened. Eventually, there were other skiers, and snowshoe rs that came up the road and the Moose went up the Mountain away form the road. Meanwhile, both Henry and Polly had caught up with us. (Photo at right: Momma Moose as close as I could get a shot.)

Well, needless to say I made it out alive! On the way home I ran by a fast food place and grabbed a cheeseburger. Then after that the priority was a nice LONG hot shower! But I will admit I did have a great deal of fun! Thanks to Bee, Polly, and Henry!

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