Tuesday, March 10, 2009

the grand adventure

last weekend I went yurting.
ok, that's not really a verb, but I like the way it seems to describe the experience.

to be literal: I snowshoed for a handful of miles, through the woods in a section of the Uintah mountains, and stayed in a yurt for the weekend.

it all came together rather serendipitously, and it was just one of those great experiences to document in life's book.
I'd been to a yurt once before, probably 10 years ago, and it was only for dinner. a large group of us snowshoed and cross-country skied back into the yurt, maybe a half mile or so, and then were served a gourmet meal prepared by chefs right there in the yurt. we ate, we drank, we laughed . . . and then we made our way back to our cars and headed home.

this weedend's yurting provided a completely different experience.

last friday bill, my 2 daughters (almost 13) and their friend (14) loaded up our backpacks with sleeping bags, gear, clothes, books and food, and piled into the car for a drive to evanston, wyoming, then along the mirror lake highway to the parking lot at the base of the trailhead.
once there we strapped on our shoeshoes, pulled on and cinched our backpacks, and began our ascent.
after about 100 yards a child asked, how much farther?
and to shorten an incredibly long story, I will just say that one of my daughters came up with this wisdom during our trip:
the truth is not good.
but a lie is bad.
so the best thing to say is, we're making progress.

it was a long trek in to the yurt.
it was snowing.
the sun went down.
it got dark.
then the moon came up.
it was lighter.
but cold.
and uphill.
with heavy backpacks.
and hungry bellies.
we kept making progress for a long time . . .

those 3 girls were absolutely amazing. they were exhausted, miserable, cold, weak, and unsure of their ability to make it.
and they made it.
we all made it, and those darn "ridge yurt" signs we shone our headlamp on were the best things we'd seen all month.
we eventually thawed, and refueled, and the chatter started within 10 minutes of having dinner in our bodies, as the yurt gradually warmed from the heat of the wood stove and our relief and exaltation at having arrived relatively intact.

the next night we went for a moonlight showshoe, up to the ridge above the yurt, with a view that spread for miles and seeped deep into our souls. we shirked the trail for otter-like sliding over the edge and down to the bottom, giggling and hollering into the silence that extended for miles around us.

the hike back out took roughly half the time our hike in had taken, as we snacked on the remnants of our weekend's food and guzzled melted snow-water. and though we all reached the end saying "that was so fast . . . I could go further," I believe that those words contained just a titch of (in bill's words) false bravado.

it was good to be in a warm car.
it was good to visit a real bathroom.
it was good to go to wendy's for a burger.

and it was good to get home and dump all of our smoky belongings on the floor, sorting out who belonged to what.

though I'm thrilled that I had my yurting experience, and so grateful that the 3 girls got to have it as well, my heart is most warmed by the fact that those 3 girls learned that they are capable of more than they ever believed.
they will be able to look back on this and say, yeah, I showshoed 10 miles that weekend, climbing over 1000 feet up, and spent a great weekend yurting.

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