wallowa hut skiing
The light dimmed and the patch of snow visible through the yurt’s single window changed from white to blue. I rose from my seat by the fire, grabbed the door latch and wrenched it inward against the stick of the jam. A path led to the two smaller sleeping yurts and the pit toilet. My puffy nylon slippers swished over the firm snow as the path turned to ice in the late-evening cold. I stopped outside the ring of light thrown by the propane lanterns. I took a breath, peed against a tree, and turned to walk back to the raucous good-timing of the main yurt. I took a step and paused.
Rumors of huts tucked deep in the Wallowa Mountains had swirled around our group of friends for years. Solid Information was scarce. A few trip reports, a cryptic website. With a hankering for adventure and not much else to go on, we headed to Joseph, OR to see what all the fuss was about.
We lost cell service before the trailhead. For three days and nights options were limited to skiing, hanging around the huts, and consuming the prodigious quantities of food we packed in.
A two-mile tow behind a snowmobile, three miles on skins, and we arrived at a group of four yurts. A little village of canvas and wood ensconced in the snow and trees of McCully basin.
McCully camp was well-appointed, with propane cooktops, wood stoves, cots for sleeping, and a hole chopped in the ice of the creek for fetching water. We woke as first light filtered through the domed window of our yurt’s apex and converge on the kitchen yurt to make coffee and breakfast before packing up to spend the day on skis.
Black trunks of trees stood out against the snow and the darkening sky. Craggy peaks just visible through the trees. My mind expanded into the deep quiet of all that open space. I was standing in a t-shirt, the air cold against bare arms. I watched the last light fade and the mountains disappear into the night.
A burst of raucous laughter emanated from the hut, beckoning me back. I let out a breath, turned, and walked down the path toward the yellow glow of the lanterns.