Thursday, October 22, 2009

YMCA of the Rockies - Snow Mountain Ranch

YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch is an incredible 5,000 acre conference and family center just outside of Winter Park, Colorado. It’s also the home of a new 20’ Colorado Yurt. We set the yurt up a few weeks ago just as the aspen were making their final statement of the fall with a fiery, orange blast of color amid billowing, low clouds that threatened to throw down the first big snow of the winter.

We stayed in Indian Peaks Lodge, one of the four lodges, numerous cabins and many campsites on the property. The rooms were very inviting and impeccably clean with a couple of beds, a mini-fridge, a sitting area and a back patio with a gorgeous mountain view. What’s that you say? No TV? Yes, no TV. Who needs television when you have 5,000 acres to explore? There is a WiFi connection, so don’t panic. An afternoon walk in the cool autumn air revealed an abundance of outdoor activities. Hiking, biking and horse riding trails meander all over the property. One of the trails I walked skirted along the edge of Sombrero Stables where the horses munched happily on their dinner. Another trail revealed a soaring zip line. Not into those things? How about miniature golf, disc golf, fishing, canoeing, archery, ice skating, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing or sledding? Don’t have the proper equipment? No excuse. Snow Mountain Ranch provides inexpensive rental options for just about anything you’ll require. Need something to do indoors on a rainy day? Try the rock climbing wall, swimming, basketball, volleyball, skating, ping pong, foosball or a variety of crafts.

photo courtesy of Snow Mountain Ranch

Unfortunately we didn’t have much spare time to play and explore. We had a yurt to set up before the snow flew. The talented ranch crew finished a handsome yurt platform the afternoon we arrived so we got an early start the next morning. The stairs leading up to the platform were finished off on either side with a rustic, hand-made banister. The tongue and groove wood floor inside added a rich and finished, yet rugged and outdoorsy touch.

The yurt went up pretty smoothly. Our shop manager, Clint Huddleston, came up with a great idea to combat a mild wind as we were getting the roof insulation and roof in place. We tied thin, slick ropes to the eyebolts in the circular compression ring at the peak of the yurt frame and then ran the ropes across the roof insulation tying the opposite end of the rope to the crisscrossing wooden slats of the lattice wall. This enabled us to have all hands free for unrolling the yurt roof and shifting it into place. Once the roof itself was settled, we simply untied the ropes and slipped them out from underneath the yurt roof. If you saw any clips of the balloon boy saga recently, that is pretty much what the roof insulation on a yurt will do if the wind catches it. So the ropes saved us a bit of chasing and avoided closure of nearby Denver International Airport.

This yurt included three of our new operable wooden windows. There are two big benefits to the new windows. They are set in a sturdy wooden frame so it is possible to cut out the section of the lattice wall that typically covers the window in a yurt. The ends of the cut lattice get screwed into the window frame so the frame integrates into the lattice wall without affecting the functionality and strength of the yurt. The view is unobstructed by the crossing lattice wall pieces. The second benefit is that the window can be cranked open from inside the yurt. A standard yurt window has a zippered flap in the wall fabric of the yurt which must be opened by going outside the yurt. Many yurts, including the Snow Mountain Ranch yurt, are built on a simple platform that is only a footprint for the yurt without additional outside deck space. If the yurt is elevated, unzipping and rolling up the window flap must be done on a ladder. In this case, the ability to open the window from the inside is an obvious advantage.

We had a great time at Snow Mountain Ranch and hope to make many trips back to play and to work. With adequate funding, the ranch has a master plan to incorporate tipis, canvas platform tents and several more yurts over the next couple of decades. I’ll leave you with a quote from their website.

"The glorious Colorado sunshine and breath-taking views set the pace to rejuvenate your spirit. Whether you are in need of relaxation or adventure, we have the inviting atmosphere that will stay with you long after you leave."

1 comment:

  1. This yurt is very inviting! I'll keep your list of yurts in Colorado for future trips. Thanks for visiting my blog.