I went on a winter yurt trip to Clark Peak Yurt and it was super fun, so I want to tell you about it, because I think you need a yurt trip in your life.
First of all, what is a yurt? A yurt is kind of like a cross between and hut and a tent. It has a round wooden lattice frame and is covered with canvas. There is no electricity or running water. There is a propane cookstove, an outhouse, and a wood stove used for heating the yurt and melting snow for water. You could call it glamping.
The Clark Peak Yurt looks like this:
My friend Anna and I have been talking about wanting to do a yurt trip since forever. I think it was Memorial Day weekend 2016 to be specific. I had just learned what a yurt was and the idea of spending a weekend in one sounded awesome – cozy hut, snowshoeing, wood stove, pretty views, etc. What’s not to love?
We kind of forgot about the idea and didn’t make it happen last year, but then it resurfaced in December and I decided to look into it a little bit more. I told Michael about it and we started looking up options through Never Summer Nordic. There was nothing available aside from some random weekdays. Yurts are popular! I think you have to plan and book these things about 6 months in advance. However, we totally lucked out. The next morning Michael was scrolling through Instagram and saw this post by Never Summer Nordic – two weekends had opened up! We jumped at the chance and booked the Clark Peak Yurt that afternoon. I texted Anna immediately and we all marked the dates on our calendars: January 13-15.
We gathered a few other friends, cemented the plans, and headed up to the yurt the morning of January 13.
Packing for a yurt is interesting. It’s like packing for a backpacking trip – you need to pack in things like food, a sleeping bag, clothes, but, you don’t need a tent or camp stove. However, since it’s only a 2-mile snowshoe in you allow yourself to bring some bougey, glamping things like face wash, deodorant, lanterns, games, water bottles filled with alcohol, etc.
Here was my packing list:
- What I wore: Feral Mountain Co hat, Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jacket, Patagonia R1 Hoodie, Fabletics Oula tank, sports bra, The North Face Winter Warm Tights, The North Face Aphrodite Straight Pants, Smartwool ski socks, Vasque St. Elias GTX hiking boots, Burton Gore-Tex mittons, sunglasses
- Gear: Black Diamond trekking poles, Outdoor Research gaiters, MSR Evo Ascent snowshoes, REI Co-op Flash 60 Pack
- Clothes in my pack: Darn Tough socks, Athleta Speedlight tank, gFast High Rise leggings, long-sleeve fleece, sports bra, underwear
- Other things: Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 sleeping bag, Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad, CamelBak hydration vest, Black Diamond lantern, Petzl headlamp, Sea to Summit spoon, toiletries, phone charger, iPhone, camera, Gardetto’s, a couple of bars, wine
Michael carried in the rest of our food (Good-To-Go backpacker meals, mini packets of Seven Sundays muesli, some bars, trail mix, dried mangos, electrolytes, instant coffee) and our games (Five Crowns, Farkle, Yahtzee), because he’s the best and wanted to keep my pack as light as possible.
I should start doing those overhead “I laid out all my gear” pictures. Instead here’s what I looked like when we started snowshoeing:
We drove up through the Poudre Canyon (passed the noosa farm!) where there was no snow and beautiful views. Minutes later as we drove up and around Cameron pass the ground was covered in snow and we were driving through a winter wonderland. Fortunately road conditions weren’t too terrible. We even saw a moose!
We stopped at the State Forest State Park Visitor’s Center to pick up some permits ($7/night/car) and use the restroom then headed to the parking area for the yurts.
It took us a couple of minutes to get geared up – snow pants, gaiters, hiking boots, mittens, snowshoes. It’s a lot to put on! We started our 2-mile snowshoe to the yurt at about 1:00.
“Everybody point to the yurt!”
The weather temperature was perfect and we had slightly overcast skies. This made snowshoeing through the trees quite magical. It felt like we were either in Narnia or north of the wall. Fortunately, the hike wasn’t too steep. I did have a couple of “episodes” (where my heart goes a little off-rhythm and my ICD has to kick in and break it up), so I was a little distracted. It took us about 1.5 hours and we all made it to the yurt safe and sound!
We spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the snow. Our original plan was to build a snowman, but the snow just wasn’t sticky enough. Maybe next time. As it got colder and darker we moved our activities into the yurt.
As I mentioned before the yurt was equipped with a propane cooktop and wood stove. Inside there was wood, a giant snow melt pot, various pots and pans for cooking, 3 bunk beds (twin on top, full on bottom), a table, chairs, a mop and broom, soap, sponges, coffee mugs, plates, bowls, and eating utensils. There was also a bunch of food and games left back from previous guests. The outhouse was a short walk from the yurt that was filled with plenty of toilet paper.
The wood stove keeps the yurt nice and toasty, especially when filled with 6 people. We spent the rest of the night eating, drinking, and playing cards. It was fun to have a low-key silly night with friends.
Before heading to bed, the boys loaded up the shelves with wood and found some hefty logs to fill the wood stove so that it would burn as long as possible. Michael did have to get up in the middle of the night and throw in some more, but overall I was surprised at how warm it was all night.
We woke up and took our time with breakfast and getting ready for snowshoeing. I think we all finally gathered ourselves a little after 10:00am. There are plenty of trails to explore around State Forecast State Park. Our plan was to head to Ruby Jewel Lake, which looked to be a 1.5/2-mile hike from the yurt.
The skies were bright blue and fresh, fluffy snow blanketed everything. We were all so in awe at how gorgeous it all was. It was stop-every-three-minutes-to-take-pictures gorgeous.
Pro: The trail was very lightly traveled.
Con: The guys had to break the trail. This was exhausting for them, but worked out just fine for the ladies.
It got more difficult to follow the trail (it was blazed with blue ribbons on trees) as we went on, so at about 1.75 miles in we decided to call it and start heading back to the yurt. Again, I had a couple of episodes while snowshoeing, so I was fine with heading back.
We only saw one other couple while we were out there. That is unheard of in Colorado! Usually the trail is filled with bunches of other people, but we had it all to ourselves. #luxury
When we got back to the yurt Anna, Shira, and Anni had to pack up and head back to Denver, so that just left Herbie, Michael, and I. We spent the night as we did the previous one – playing games and eating food while enjoying some wine and whiskey. I lost terribly at every single game of Yahtzee and Five Crowns. We did pause our play time to step outside and take in some beautiful alpine glow and, later, all the stars. Both of these things were hard to capture on camera, so you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that it was beautiful.
The next morning we woke up, packed up our stuff, cleaned up the yurt, took a few final pictures, and headed out. The whole process went quite quickly. Unfortunately, about 100 yards into the hike back to the car I started feeling a little light-headed. This isn’t abnormal for me, so I stopped to collect myself for a moment and starting walking again. Then I felt this shock go through my body as I fell to the ground. My ICD went off! It gave me a full on electric shock. This was the first time it had ever happened. Up until that point the only thing that had ever happened was that it would pace me out of a bad rhythm (like it had snowshoeing the previous two days). Fortunately, it didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would and I felt fine afterwards.
Michael and Herbie were both troopers. They stayed calm, which was exactly what I needed, because if they started freaking out I would start freaking out more and we’d all be a mess. Plus, we still had to snowshoe 2 miles back to the car! Michael carried my pack, Herbie set a nice, even pace, and I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t know how I kept myself together, but I did. The rest of the hike was uneventful in the best way possible. When we got to the car we quickly striped off our gear and jumped in to start thawing. Then we headed back to Denver!
I want to re-visit the defibrillator shock for one moment. I did feel fine afterwards and didn’t need any other therapy the rest of the day. At the time it happened I was weaning myself off of an anti-arrhythmic medication in order to start a new one. It was the third day after not taking any medication, so I think that’s why it happened.
Looking back I probably should not have gone on the yurt trip, especially while being in between medications. However, I was sick of not being active and not being able to fun things with my friends outside. It was a personal risk and I took it. Just wanted to live my life, you know? Fortunately, everything ended up fine. I’m thankful that it happened while I was outside with Michael and not while I was walking on the treadmill at the gym or something similar.
While I was on my previous anti-arrhythmic medication I basically went into ventricular tachycardia (VT) every day, sometimes more than once a day. I started taking the a new anti-arrhythmic medication last Tuesday and spent Thursday and Friday in the hospital getting a higher dosage. So far, no episodes! Michael and I went on a 3-mile walk on Saturday morning. I cried a little bit because I was so nervous it would happen again, but everything turned out fine. I am learning how to trust my body again.
And back to the yurt…
Overall, it was such a fun trip! The whole experience (except the part where I got shocked, obviously) was so wonderful. I was thankful to be able to spend the weekend with friends, have outdoor adventures, and take in some gorgeous scenery.
You should probably book a yurt trip now. Just sayin’.