Sunday, March 6, 2016

Yurt Therapy

Back in November when VVN met me at REI to help me shop for Killi gear, that day there was an auction for hut rental for the MTTA (Mt. Tahoma Trail Association). They have a system of 4 huts near Mt. Rainier, modeled after the hut system in the Alps, that people can rent for very cheap (about $15/ person). Basically you can spend a night of luxury in a roomy, heated tent with food prep capacity and outhouse with 5-13 of your closest friends, in the middle of nowhere with incredible mountain scenery. They are in such high demand that you have to buy $20 raffle tickets and sit around for hours hoping your name is called. I bought 2 tickets but didn’t win, but VVN won. She booked the Yurt for this past weekend and invited me to join her husband and 5 of her friends, who have been meeting once/ year at one of these huts every year for the last 10 years, I guess kind of like we used to have the DC in Manzanita.

The MTTA hut system has 4 backcountry huts, Copper Creek, High Hut, Snow Bowl, and the Yurt. The Yurt being the smallest and most remote, without a working oven is the least sought-after, but in my opinion, the best. It’s a real gd Yurt.

It’s been a rough week. Rough. Lost another claw and by the time I realized it had to go, part of my arm was lost too, but it had to be done, but I was a blubbering mess. My last hike around Rainier was pretty traumatic (future late entry?). Add on to that the recurring low back injury that had left me hobbling around stooped over and prevented me from running these past 2 weeks, the last thing I wanted to do put on a smile in front of strangers.

But VVN and my Canadian twin Susan convinced me I needed to get out. After some more steroids and an extremely helpful session of physical therapy with Erik Moen Bike PT, my back a million times better and I thought perhaps I could carry a light pack for 5 miles.

I have posted about Erik before, he really knows his stuff. I must pause for a tangent to introduce the newest member of the family “Billy” (steel is real!),
which rides much better after the bike fitting. Looking forward to hitting the road once my back and the weather improve…. But back to the Yurt.

The forecast was for rain rain rain. I met VVN at her house and we carpooled to the Cottage Café in Eatonville where her friends meet for the pre-hike goodies, in my case breakfast sandwich with bacon.
Then onward to the trailhead to put on our snowshoes (except Mike who wore skis).

It was an unexpectedly beautiful day, a bit warm/ wet but very therapeutic for my tortured soul.
We got glimpses of the high hut and Rainier before arriving at the Yurt.

A real live Yurt!
I still miss the Leschi Yurt, where we used to have BRS food club. I can’t believe that was July 2012.

The Yurt was huge, with light entering from the center cap. The table around the center pole was a new addition, and everyone joked that VVN couldn’t pole dance around it anymore. 

There was a bunk bed and 2 sofa beds and 2 mattresses; 2 people had brought tents to sleep outside because, rules were rules, the Yurt only sleeps 6. Though no one was going to check, 2 people were going to sleep outside in the wind/ rain because that was part of the adventure. There was a rack full of hangers to dry wet clothes, which could be raised up and away, and behind the stove, a pair of woolley slippers to borrow!

Water was basically melted snow melted on the stove. The filter was pretty slow, so we ended up boiling a bunch of water.

One of the guys had brought a box of wine and I did my best not to hog it all. We basically sat around eating hors’doevres (cheese, salami/ chorizo, chips, crackers) until it was time to eat some more. They laughed about how VVN, who had just completed the Orcas Island 100 miler a couple weeks prior, was dipping Cheetos in fondue cheese at their last dinner party. MMM Cheetos dipped in fondue…. I must find an excuse to earn this privilege….

Dinner was amazing, pulled pork with slaw, and all the fixins, lemon tart for desert. The Yurt had the obligatory copy of Neuromancer as well as Jenga and Trivial Pursuit, as well as the log book, but we did not need these as one of the folks had brought Farkle.

I was not in the mood to strain my brain but this was loads of fun, a dice game where you could slowly rack up points or risk losing it all. I broke the “beginner’s luck” rule by losing 2 games in a row, threw my royal flush away with a Farkel.

You have to reuse utensils and pack out all the trash, but Christel and Chris had the routine down. By then the rain was coming down hard, and Marie and Mike had to put up their tents. Why couldn’t they just sleep on the floor? Oh the rules say, only 6 in the Yurt. Plus it’s part of the adventure. So they actually put up tents in this rainstorm in the dark! I had to take a sleeper because I was so wired but it was a very comfortable sofa…

Next morning the winds/ rain had died down and it was snowing! We had pulled pork with scrambled eggs/ hash browns before cleaning up and packing out. It started out crisp and clear but as we descended the rain came and I took my snow shoes off on the rocks. Another hiker on a toboggan passed me, and some hikers were on their way up, including a local with sled dogs. I was grateful to be out on the peaceful snow.

Afterward we went to Brunos where I had an elk burger with fried jalapeno chips, sweet potato fries, washed down with Irish Death. All the Tabasco I could want.
Then back to Seattle and reality. Will def bid on a hut next year.

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