This past weekend, we headed up to Leadville to spend a night in a yurt off Tennessee Pass. We got a bit of a late start actually heading to the yurt despite getting to the Tennessee Pass Nordic center an hour before we could check into our yurt . AJ needed to get some text edits off for the next issue of Triathlete, and the service at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center was spotty at best. He ended up having to head back to the town of Leadville to fire off a couple emails.
We enjoyed a quick beer (thanks for the beer Nordic Center team), and then headed out as the sun began to set on the two mile trek to the Riva Ridge Yurt- one of the four yurts they rent out.
Leaving that late wasn’t ideal, but it did give us the chance to ski under the stars and watch the sun go down over the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. We all got to experience Nordic skiing under the stars for the first time together.
One guy at the Nordic Center mentioned it wasn’t so bad at only 300 feet of elevation gain. Granted, we are already up at 10,800 feet. He may have been right about there not being very much elevation gain, but it was a hill basically the whole way not giving your lungs or body any chance to rest or stretch out. Plus, the snow was sticky and hadn’t been groomed in awhile.
AJ was a rock star not only pulling the chariot with our bag of food (and Emma for more than half the way), but also our backpack of clothes on his back. At one point when Emma was skiing with us, she started slipping backwards on a steeper part of the trail, and he even helped keep her upright by holding out his poll.
We took a few catch your breath brakes along the trail. At one point, AJ called out that he saw lights (we were skiing by headlamp at this point). He was thinking it was the Cookhouse meaning we only had .4 of a mile to go. Much to our disappointment, it was just a reflective sign. On we pushed…….
There was a very short downhill at the Tennessee Pass Cook House and then it was back up a slight uphill to our yurt. It felt super late when we got there, but it was only 6 P.M. Emma was all about exploring the yurt climbing the bunk beds, “chillin” by the fire and lamenting on how cool it was that there was a shelf with Kleenex on it next to each bed .
When we walked in, she even noticed there was no TV and said, “Cool there isn’t even a TV!” I think she said, “This is awesome,” about five times. We were totally off the grid away from people and technology (except the drunkards in the yurt next to us who were singing “The sun will come out” when they returned from dinner at the Cookhouse but who quickly quieted down).
AJ made dinner of steaks and potatoes on the one burner stove. We enjoyed some wine, a performance by Emma and reading books before bed.
Before we said goodnight, we were snuggled up next to the fire and looked up. It was a fairly clear night, and the stars were through the . Singing “Twinkle Twinkle” seemed appropriate since we sing that to Emma every night when we put her to bed anyway.
As is typical when up in the mountains, we all woke up multiple times. AJ had to tend to the fire. At one point, we both went outside to see the stars and full moon in only our PJ’s and socks.
In the morning, AJ went for an early ski. Emma was content playing a few educational games on the iPad, so I took out my book and enjoyed some reading fireside. It was so enjoyable to just sit and enjoy the peace and quiet with a nice cup of coffee. It doesn’t happen often and typically never when traveling.
When AJ got back from his ski, we enjoyed a little outdoor time before packing up and heading back to the Nordic Center. Emma loves Yeti’s from Bumble in Rudolph to one of her favorite books “The Thing About Yeti’s.” So naturally, we had to go on a Yeti search. We had fun playing tricks on each other about the tracks and animal dens we saw. Then, it was time to pack up and head back to the Nordic Center.
There happened to be a middle school and high school Nordic race Saturday morning. We had to share the trails with the skiers moving as far as we could get to the right. AJ was flying with the momentum of the trailer and the downhill, so he took off to try and get off the course as quick as possible. We even got a few cheers from the parents and coaches as we skied back to the car.
We are already making plans for our next yurt trip. Emma loved the isolation, “skiing in the backcountry”and just the three of us being together without the distractions of everyday life. I would have to say that us just being together was my favorite part too.
It was good to have Sunday at home even though we spent it doing things around the house like finally taking down the Xmas tree (it was the last day to dump it for recycling for free in the town park) and adding additional holds to Emma’s climbing wall. On Thursday, we are trading the snow for 84 degree temperature water and headed to Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs for two days at the indoor water park.
I pitched a major print magazine with some pitches this morning! Fingers crossed it turns into some assignments!
My stories and photos from the National Parks (and more)