I ski, you ski, we all ski for YurtSki!

Remember this post?  My first blog-rant about winter, plus the bonus John Denver video?  That just happened to be published the same day I left for a backcountry ski vacation.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.  More than likely though I was just stoked about all of the snow we were getting….therefore all of the powder I would be skiing.  Or as John would say, I was “Dancing with the Mountains.”  (Please tell me you watched that?!)  Classic. 

And dance we did.  This winter has been phenomenal.  Incredible.  Snowtastic.  Yes I just said that.  And the backcountry?  Glorious.  Absolutely amazing.   

This was our second vacation to YurtSki….a backcountry adventure in the Swan Mountains of Montana.  A lot of people don’t understand this type of vacation.  I can relate…it’s different.  It’s not your typical ski vacation with cushy condos, fancy lodges, chairlifts and over-priced tickets (don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely room for those kind of vacations in my winter).   Instead, you haul all of your gear in 11 miles yourself, share a 20 ft diameter one-room yurt with 6-8 people of what better be your closest friends  (a yurt, that as hard as you try, will not be clean and/or organized), build your own fires for heat, use an outhouse (with no door), cook your own food (that you hauled in), and earn each and every one of your turns.   There are no chairlifts.  This is no resort.  It’s basically a building that’s strategically placed next to a huge skiable mountain.  Enter at your own risk.   And FYI….any joker can rent this thing.  But common sense is not included in the price of the yurt.   You better know what you’re doing.

I don’t really have a funny story or anything to go with this adventure.  Hard to believe I’m sure.  What I do have are some amazing pictures that I want to share.  Because there’s something about being out “there” where only a handful of people have been that is truly amazing.   The feeling you get when you’re miles and miles into the woods and you’ve worked so hard to get to the top of the mountain, and the sun is just coming out letting you see for miles.   It’s pretty much indescribable.  And then you get to ski down through some of the best snow you’ve seen all season?  Well…it just pretty much makes you feel lucky to be alive.  That probably sounds corny and perhaps it’s the two glasses of wine that I’ve had while I’m writing this.  But ironically, when you’re standing on top of that ridge it feels somewhat grounding….like all of the things you’ve been stressing about all week aren’t worth the worry.  If I could bottle that feeling I would be a wealthy woman.  Since I can’t, I’ve come to the conclusion that outings like this need to be a regular occurence so I’m reminded that life can be beautiful and simple.  It doesn’t take a heckuva-lot of money to escape from reality for a few days.  These things that we worry ourselves with (squeezing one more thing into the day, hurrying here, hurrying there….and for Gods sake work)?  They are all pressures we put on ourselves.  And for what?  All that really matters is that we’re happy, we’re healthy, we’re pursuing activities that we love and we are surrounding ourselves with good people.   Yep.  Got all that from working my ass off while skinning up a mountain.  I’m kind of digging it.   

So this post, I’m going to let my pictures do the talking for once.


Jenn and I headed in! What's that? A decal of two people sitting on a sled with a line through it? That must mean don't let two huge fat lazy men ride on the sled together. Not two 'lil ladies.

Don was in charge of the gear sled (Paco)

Then there's these two jokers...riding "Canadian" style. I'm still not sure if that's a real thing. Pretty sure there should be a decal for that too!

It took us about 5 hours to get in 11 miles to the yurt. Doesn't quite add up, does it? Let's just say there was some digging to be done on the "road."

Here's the yurt! Last year when we were here there was NO snow on the sides...so this was pretty exciting.

I thought this was cool with all of the skis outside.


Yep....that's the outhouse. Image courtesy of M. Doherty

The next morning our hike in was pretty foggy...kinda eerie

Until we got to the top of the ridge....then it was sunny and blue skies...and the fog was moving off of the peaks which was really pretty.

But we weren't done yet. We continued hiking along the ridgeline. There were the neatest cornices and wind features along the way (that's me 'n Hubs)

And even some snow ghosts that Whitefish Mountain would be jealous of

From the ridge you could look down into the Swan Valley and see Seeley Lake (the lake we ran around for the Snow Joke). It looked like a loooooong way around...I was glad I did this after the race!

Just for reference-sake - here's the ridge we were hiking (or part of it). We ended up skiing those bowls you see here

See the fire lookout in the distance?

You’re probably wondering if we ever did any skiing….well yes, yes we did. And it was sah-wheet. I think my tracks are the furthest to the right in this pic. Just sayin’…..

That there hiking and skiin' is hard work. I would like to point out at this point that I was not the only girl this year! Thanks Jenn!!


If this was the view I got every morning walking back from the outhouse….I would consider having one at home.

Can you spot the yurt? Isn't that insane?? I love the little chimney peeking out from the snow.

Second day was sunny and warm. It felt like spring skiing

We were on a different ridge the second day so I was checkin' out my lines from the day before.

And making some new ones

"Yes, you're all doing a group photo! Sheesh!"

So there you have it.  A small compilation of what is probably around 500 pictures we all took. 

And now for a special little treat for those of you that hung in there…turns out even my pictures are wordy.  A little video of yours truly skiing.  I know, I know.  I’ve come a long way in the past 3 months (where I couldn’t be found in any of my pics).   What’s even better about this little treat?  I totally eat it.  Yep.  And I’m showing it to you!   Forget the fact that I would rather show you a video of me totally ripping it up….and forget the fact that it really, really sucks to fall when you’ve worked so hard for your turns.  But what the hell.  I love you guys.   So enjoy…

Please notice all of my friends laughing at me.  Thanks guys.   

I think I’ll end on that note. 

See you next year YurtSki.



  1. Pretty amazing, or should I say sah-wheet. Your adventures are pretty awesome, it makes me want to go on a ski trip…I’m not ready for a YurtSki vacation. And yes, I agree. You would be a very wealthy women if you could bottle up the emotion you are talking about while standing on top of the ridge,I would be your first customer!

  2. You are right, it does suck to pack it in when you huffed and puffed your way to the top. However, you handled the wipeout with grace. I would of let out a nice, echoing f*#k.

    Looks like a great trip. I miss the pow:(


    PS – Tell your camera man to stop filming the trees;)

    1. I would be lying if there wasn’t an exhoing f*#k somewhere along the lines (sorry pops).

      And yeah….could I please get some better coverage? Sheesh!! This is going on the blog afterall!

  3. B-E-A-UUUU-TIFUL! Looks like an amazing weekend in sweet seclusion. And never mind the video snaffoo, remember Dad always said ‘you aren’t skiing hard enough if you don’t fall!’ so I think you’ve got it!Sounds like your weekend in the snow cave, ooops, I mean yurt, was well worth all the hiking.

  4. Awesome, awesome and awesome!! Great photos! I was so happy to see that ol’ Paco got to go along. And seriously LOL’d at the “riding Canadian” picture. Hilarious!

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