It was a time I remember that eavesdropping paid off. And I thought my ears were plugged with excess earwax at the time. But the universe provided means that evening to detect the words flowing from a nearby conversation.
Sometimes Christmas parties seem to have a bit of obligatory cheer to them. We go, we eat, we drink, we make merry and make for the door. It was in between the drink part that I overheard an acquaintance speak of his mountain yurt. I pivoted with antiquated basketball agility and became part of the play where this interesting conversation was taking place. Niceties were exchanged with the perennial "What are you up to these days?" I responded with my writing is anxious for a release, a silent retreat of a release. The cue was met with an idea to spend some lone glorious days writing up at his snowy mountain yurt.
A caveat remained: I needed to find the 7,000 ft elevation yurt. He explained snowshoes were the preferred mode of travel and there was plenty of stacked firewood for the woodstove, the only heat source in the dead of a Rocky Mountain winter. No running water, no communication, no interruptions!
Sharing the idea with my husband on the way home from Christmas party # 9 crystallized the vision. I will call Jeff in the morning to ensure the sincerity of the offer. "Will you be okay up there alone?" My husband inquired. I said, "I miss those days before kids when we used to build snow caves and camp overnight, backpacking and climbing Annapurna. It couldn't be more perfect."
A few days later, I stuffed my backpack with a -25°down sleeping bag, a headlamp, flashlight, change of thermal clothing, nuts, granola, and gourmet deli items, a bottle of Argentine Malbec, black chocolate and jugs of water. Drove north on highway 75 to find mile marker number 154. The snow was falling heavy by then and obscuring roadside navigation.
It was in the teens by 1:00pm when I fitted my snowshoes, swung on the backpack and headed west from the highway one step after another following his directions written on a paper napkin with red reindeers. Four feet of snow covered the sloping terrain, breaking trail on 5" of new powder.
Later, gaining elevation the snowflakes grew in size, drifting in swirls and melting upon my face. I marched on weaving between the Douglas Firs, a hot-springs creek runoff ascending Buttermilk Canyon Gulch. The smile on my face was a sure sign to the a chipmunk and Magpies that I was once again on another adventure.
Heart song melodies traveled to my head as sweat dampened my wool hat. The internal scribe began to compete with other thoughts followed by ideas. The ideas and notions I would soon get to place on paper. The surge would come and I would detain it and guide them with pencil and paper in a free flow avalanche of words, ultimate uncensored expression. The feeling was tantalizing.
The journey was foreplay to a possible great night of intimacy coupling ideas and paper. Boulder Mountains breathing down my shoulders, crystalline snow wet with glisten.
With the yurt in sight, relief yielded to the brain´s firing. A picture perfect hideaway perched before me, a container for energy.
Stacks of cut pine rounds stood alongside the dwelling, a tipping worn-wood outhouse sat in the distance. My temporary abode alone in the Rocky Mountains. A wooden door led way inside to plywood floors, some older mismatched dining chairs, a bookshelf, a futon, area rug and a table.
I placed a grandpa's chair next to the young roaring fire as I took my place in it. I retained the warmth of my down jacket however for the duration of the evening. Food items placed aside my chair for hours of snacking and replenishment of spirit.
Pages and pages later, hours and hours passed of rushing segments spilling forth on yellow paper radiant by the light of the headlamp. It was when my hand fatigued around midnight that I decided to open the wine and gently sedate my conscious thoughts until morning.
A couple of armfuls of wood stoked the woodstove throughout the night and kept the place considerably comfortable. I poured some hot water from the pan positioned atop the woodstove and then made a formidable cup of morning tea, and commenced to writing.
I was inspirationally lost in the days writing aside from some stretching and visits to the tippy outhouse. The moments of movement were spaced amongst thousands and thousands of words. I am getting somewhere! I can't stop.
Days melded and the temptation to linger was mounting. It was time to move on. The fireside work accomplished was satisfying and gratifying, adventurous and soul-stirring. I think the book is done came running out of my head. The work seems complete, as complete as I can make it. Yes, I thought as I descended the mountain, it is enough.
Yurts throughout the Rocky Mountain Range are available for rent per night via associations or outfitters (www.backcountrysecrets.com). The 10th Mountain Division yurts (www.huts.org) are public with no reservations and often shared by other mountaineers.