“This as far as I can go,” I said, and slipped the giant backpack off my shoulders and let it fall into the snow.
My husband, Brad, and I were hiking our way to a yurt in the Boise National Forest. This was our first time snowshoeing and hiking with the large backpacking packs. The climb up to the Stargaze Yurt is about 1.4 miles (not bad), but the elevation increase of 550 feet makes for a workout. That, along with the 30 or 40 pounds of food strapped to my back and new snowshoes strapped to my feet, explained my inability to continue on.
We stuck the pack on the side of the path and kept trekking. The yurt wasn’t much further, but was much higher. Brad and I would continue the climb, and then he’d come back for my abandoned pack. What can I say? I am spoiled.
The Idaho Parks and Recreation runs the six yurts that you can rent in the Boise National Forest, though one was unfortunately lost in the forest fires that occurred last summer. The Stargaze Yurt has the highest elevation of all the yurts, sitting atop a rise at 6,569 feet. Quite a view.
A yurt is a large round tent that is traditionally covered in animal skins (ours was canvas) and is used by nomads in Central Asia. Yurts have grown in popularity in the US in the past years, though very changed from the traditional nomad residence, with several people choosing to live in them. I had always wanted to stay in one, my own version of “glamping.”
The yurts are in high demand, but you can only book up to nine months in advance. I set a calendar reminder and booked our overnight stay the day that booking opened—in March. I then attempted to keep the surprise from Brad, but finally told him in like August. We’re very bad at keeping secrets from each other.
The yurts are very well constructed and stocked. Our yurt had everything from a wok to a cutting board. We brought a lantern and headlamps, but the yurt has solar lights and propane lanterns for use. A wood stove heats the large structure, with a propane cooktop available for cooking.
There’s plenty of wood located in a dry spot under the yurt for use. Per the guidebook, we knew to bring in two 16 oz. bottles of propane for every night that we stayed to use for cooking.
Shelves hold board games, plates, silverware, even plastic wine glasses. This is truly “glamping.”
Until you get to the bathroom. Though I never take three walls enclosing an actual toilet for granted. The door is missing from the outhouse (perhaps to encourage ventilation?) that is about 100 yards away. A tall wooden fence faces the outhouse, providing privacy from hikers or animals.
Once the snow started, a few inches of snow would be found sitting atop the role of toilet paper. I didn’t mind the outhouse too much. Perhaps because the smell is better when it’s freezing outside?
If you want water, you pack it in. Or, you melt snow. There’s a guidebook of everything that you need to do before you leave the yurt after a stay, including washing the dishes you used. We brought in a gallon of drinking water and used snow water for cleaning.
We had an easy dinner of tomato soup and bread that we warmed on top of the wood stove. I can’t believe it, but we forgot to bring beer! We had oatmeal for the morning, and packed sausages and snacks for lunch. Basic, but still delicious. Doesn’t everything taste better when it’s cooked while camping?
There are two bunkbeds and a futon in the yurt, with plenty of space for hanging out. We decided to sleep in our sleeping bags on the futon, comfy and cozy thanks to the wood stove. A futon is definitely a step above sleeping on the ground!
We didn’t have a completely restful night, as we were awakened several times by the sound of snow sliding off the canvas roof of the yurt. Note to self: bring earplugs next time.
There are chores to complete before you leave at the the 1pm check-out time. Brad took care of tasks like shoveling a pathway to the outhouse, while I swept the yurt. The amount of chores that need to be done makes a good case for bringing more people when you visit.
Our visit to Stargaze Yurt was a memorable, relaxing experience. Sure, the hike was hard. But there’s nothing quite like tackling a mountain for a night of sleeping among the stars.