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Ambassador Field Notes: Winter Yurt Camping with Tala

This winter my partner Cade and our dog Tala decided to explore the snowy backyard in style by renting a yurt in the Idaho backcountry.

Tala leads the way in a quinzee insulated jacket with Cade following pushing his bike through the snow.
Tala stands wearing Quinzee Insulated Dog Coat and Knot-a-collar.

Photos Contributed by Ruffwear Ambassador Becca Bredehoft

I had a big grand plan--we would ride our fat bikes in and cruise the beautifully groomed trail system surrounding our little slice of paradise for two days. The approach would be quick and easy with our bikes, we wouldn’t need to bring much since the yurts are well-stocked, and they start grooming by mid-December.

It would be low stress--we would just load up with the essentials, and we could easily cruise the few miles out to the parking lot if we had forgotten anything. Tala absolutely loves the snow (and biking), and doesn’t generally get to spend much time in ‘real’ winter because of our nomadic van-dwelling tendencies, so I knew she would approve of the adventure.

Tala runs down the snowy trail.
Tala and Cade in the snow.
Tala and becca walk through the snow to the yurt.
Tala in the quinzee jacket stands deep in the snow.

My plans quickly got a big readjust as we discovered the the trails were not yet groomed on our chosen dates, and we hadn’t really made a ‘Plan B’ for where to leave the bikes for 2 days if we weren’t able to ride them in. So we did our best on the way in to ride the flat portions of the trail that were somewhat packed by snowshoers, and pushed the bikes through the deep crusty snow up the hills.

Tala did a great job of post-holing through what was (at times) chest-deep powder for her, even with a fully-loaded pack. The yurt was indeed well stocked and super cozy, and we realized on the ride in that we definitely way overpacked for our little two-day adventure. We hadn’t really accounted for how challenging it would be to ride our bikes with 40-pound packs, even if the trails had been groomed!

Tala plays fetch with a stick in the snow.
Tala in the Quinzee jacket.

That evening, we cooked a hearty dinner, stayed toasty by the wood stove, and settled in for our two-night getaway. The next unexpected moment came when we awoke on the second day to a fresh 8 inches of snow on the deck of the yurt. There were a few moments that we thought we could hear the groomers at work on the trails that morning, but we later realized it was actually the snowplow a few miles away clearing the parking lot down in the valley.

Tala eats out of a bivy collapsible bowl inside the yurt.
Tala follows Cade through the deep snow.
Tala takes a nap on the Clear Lake blanket.
Tala wearing Quinzee runs throw the deep snow.

We laughed at our miscalculations, romped in the fresh powder, and enjoyed some peace and quiet of a snowy day in the forest. We even packed out a little downhill bike run below the yurt so we could at least get a little riding in while we were there. Tala went on squirrel patrol for us and kept the perimeter of the yurt safe from all rodents for the duration of our stay.

Tala stands guard in the snow from the porch of the yurt.
Tala outside yurt.
Tala and Cade snuggle by the fire.
Tala snuggles up to Cade.

The sun goes down early this time of year in Idaho, and we made the most of the daylight hours and the long cold night. It was so nice just to relax, cozy up in the yurt, play some board games, and keep the fire going all night long.

On the last day, with a few more inches of fresh powder on the ground, we slogged our bikes out through the deep snow, and decided next time around maybe we’ll plan a little better. We’ll make sure we come in when the trails are groomed, and bring a little less gear. But we’ll definitely be back for more winter fun… because all in all, despite a few unexpected surprises, we deemed our little winter backyard adventure a massive success, especially by Tala’s standards.

Tala jumps for a stick in Cade's hands.
Cade and Becca hold Tala standing in front of a yurt in the snow,