Ambassador Field Notes: Winter Yurt Camping with Tala

Ambassador Field Notes: Winter Yurt Camping with Tala

  • Allison Hartz

Story and Photos Contributed by Ruffwear Ambassador Becca Bredehoft

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.

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,

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  • Becca

    Hi Jack, there was plenty of dry firewood and we found the trails to be very well-marked. Having a map of the trail system will definitely come in handy. Enjoy your adventure!

  • Jack Arendt

    Hi Becca, sounds (and looks) like a wonderful adventure. Ill be heading to Idaho State Park above Idaho City for four days/three nights of backcountry skiing and yurt camping during the first week of February. Our yellow lab, however, will be staying home. He’s 9 years old and with 68" of new snow already, we’re figuring it might be too strenuous for him. Did you find the trails were marked well enough? Was there plenty of dry firewood?
    Thanks for bringing your story and pictures.

  • Dom

    What a great getaway, miscalculations and all! Tala is beautiful and the photos are stunning.

  • JaneEllen

    Sounds like great fun. Sorry the trails were not groomed as expected and glad the trip wasn’t a bust because of that. Living in New England it is necessary to bundle up my very short haired Boston Terrier, often two coats and boots. I did love the dog products though. Still looking for winter boots that are easier to size correctly, put on easier and will still be effective in cold weather, with or without snow. Must say I’m not a fan of winter wear that does not cover both the belly and back area and not because I own a small short haired dog. Most of my dogs have been big dogs and I do love them but I now live in an apartment with size limitations.
    It just came to mind, could you have used snow shoes instead of bikes or in addition to bikes. That sounds like fun too.
    Positively loved the yurt!!!
    Best wishes for a Happy New Year to you both and your beautiful puppet.
    JaneEllen and her wacky sidekick Lola, the Boston Terrier