As Mike continues slicing, I wander out onto the deck, which almost wraps around the yurt, to admire the early-evening light, take some photos and scope out the bathroom situation. A hundred feet from the yurt is a double outhouse, each stall with a toilet-seat frame that accommodates WAG (Waste Alleviation and Gelling) bags. Mike has already promised to teach us how to use these.
Between the outhouses and the yurt are additional “facilities” — two pee trees, one for men and one for women.
Mike sets his artfully arranged appetizer on the table and we pounce on it as if we’ve spent the day skiing with heavy packs. Fifteen minutes later, it’s nearly all gone.
I guess it’s being at a yurt that inspires the appetite rather than the effort required (or not required) to get there.
On usual yurt trips, the time between post-skiing snacks and dinner is spent doing chores. But here we have no chores. The dice and cards come out. Kelly puts her headlamp on, pulls up a chair to the wood-burning stove and settles in to the book she brought.
I consider offering to help Mike with dinner, but don’t.
Three hours later, it’s obvious that he didn’t miss me. I’d never guess that the tortellini in creamy tomato sauce with smoked salmon was cooked on a two-burner Coleman stove. I’d also never guess that, after having just recently devoured 10 pounds of salami, cheese and fruit, my friends and I would be capable of eating as much tortellini as we do.
Rather than watch Mike wash the dishes, I make my way outside to the pee tree and get waylaid by the snowdrift and looking for satellites. I don’t see one.
Having extricated myself from the snow and emptied my bladder, I go back inside, where it’s easily 80-some degrees. I want to stay up and play dice but instead give in to the heat and my food coma. I wake up once in the middle of the night, sweating profusely, to toss off the yurt’s minus-20-degree sleeping bag.
Mike’s alarm should wake us all up — the yurt is 20 feet in diameter and the alarm is on the table in the center — but no one (aside from Mike) stirs until the yurt fills with the smells of coffee and toasting bagels.
Taking a mug of coffee and my sleeping bag outside onto the deck, I open a canvas folding chair, drape the bag over me and soak up some early-morning sun. Skiers who’ve caught an early tram and skied down Rock Springs fly by no more than 100 feet away. Shielded by pine trees, they have no idea that the yurt or I are there.
Fifteen minutes later, we’re packed and stepping into our skis. Twenty minutes later, we’re back at the resort base, no cleanup or schlepping of heavy packs required.