This post is sponsored by Eddie Bauer and Travel+Leisure magazine.
I’m so excited to finally share our backcountry yurt adventure with y’all! The Never Summer Nordic Yurt system is located in Northern Colorado near Cameron Pass. I’ve heard about these yurts for years but instead, always opted for our traditional hut trips. However, this year we decided to live a little and branch out. We booked our trip for the weekend after Christmas. And with that, to Lower Montgomery Pass Yurt we went!
Yurts are different than huts for a variety of reasons, but most notable is their size and shape. In essence, a yurt is a large teepee with a platform as a base. The Never Summer yurts hold five people ideally, and I wouldn’t advise that you pack more than that in there. Space is at a premium! Other than the beds, the small yurts hold a wood stove for heat, a single kerosene lantern for light, and a small kitchen area with a propane stove and two bins for washing dishes. It’s simple, it’s rustic, and it’s perfect for a mountain adventure.
We arrived at the trailhead late in the afternoon, but my excitement was already piqued: we saw a moose at the entrance station! I’ve never seen a moose in Colorado, so I was wild with excitement as I leaned out the car window to take a photo. Say what you will, but I’m pretty sure that our furry welcoming committee was a good luck charm for the rest of our trip.
In the winter, most people trek into the yurts via snowshoes, cross country skis, or backcountry ski gear. Our crew chose backcountry ski/snowboard gear, so we quickly loaded our packs and Pulk sled, put our skins on our skis, and began the wintry voyage to the yurt. It was 3:45 by the time Will and I left the car, so I was a tad concerned about the approaching darkness. The skin into the yurt is fairly short and easy–2.8 miles with 850 feet of elevation gain–but you never know what will happen in the backcountry. As a result, we kept a quick pace as we hightailed our way into the forest.
The first 1.8 miles is very flat and we covered the distance in no time. The last mile includes the entirety of the elevation gain, so our pace became slower as the skyline grew black. We finally reached our yurt under the cover of darkness and set about cozying in.
Pro tip: if you find yourself on a yurt trip and want to play a fun game, I don’t suggest our version of “How Hot Can It Get?” We stoked the fire so much that the interior temp was nearing 90 degrees….with an outside temp of -7. Yup, that’s almost a 100 degree temp difference and sleeping inside was HOT!
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny with stunning views and powder as far as the eyes could see. The views from the deck were surreal as the untouched snow glittered in the sunshine. The temps were surprisingly cold, so I bundled up in all of the new gear that Eddie Bauer sent me for the trip. We were going skiing!
From the yurt, we hopped on the Bockman Campground Road and began skinning towards treeline. Treeline is typically between 11,500-12,000 feet, so we had a ways to go; our yurt was situation at 9,600 feet. Regardless, we left the yurt with smiles on our face: any day with fresh snow, sunny skies and Colorado mountains is a good one!
We were the only skiers out there so we broke trail in sweaty silence as we climbed towards the sky. We all traveled at different paces so we gradually split into pairs, each of us enjoying the scenery in our own way. The trees were dripping with sparkling snow and the cold wind whistled through the thick pine needles. There truly is nothing like the silence you find in the Colorado backcountry. We even braved a small river crossing on our skis as we continued our trek upwards.
After a few hours, some of the girls turned around because of the bitterly cold temperatures. I pushed forward with the guys, dying to catch the views from above the trees. However, after another 30 minutes, I had to tap out. We’d been climbing for hours, breaking trail, and battling the cold; I was tired! Naturally, Will couldn’t let me turn around solo, so we sent the guys ahead as we sat down to remove our skins from the skis and store them inside my First Ascent Alchemist pack. At least the hard work was over; it was time to sail downhill!
We spent the rest of the daylight hours playing in the snow and enjoying our time away from civilization. I left my cell phone in the car, but even if I hadn’t, it is never turned on when I’m in the backcountry. There is a simple thrill when removed from everything, where most people can’t even find you. I enjoy the peace.
However, I sometimes can’t express it with my words, which is why I’m excited to share this with you! I teamed up with the crew at Caveman Collective, a team of creatives who specialize in photography and videography. They shot this brief video of our backcountry experience; hope you enjoy it!
Can’t see the video? Click here.
If You Go: Lower Montgomery Pass Yurt
Elevation: 9,600 feet
Elevation Gain: 853 feet from car
Avalanche Danger: None
What do you think?! Did y’all like the video? Want to come on my next yurt trip?!