FORT COLLINS - Every year is the same. My New Year's Eve routine involves making homemade ravioli and tomato sauce, using a recipe passed down from my Italian grandmother.
It's the most delicious concoction ever, and well worth the effort, but the process is time-intensive.
As December came to a close, I found myself feeling unusually depleted in need of fresh air and rejuvenation more than rich food. My husband suggested we change things up. How about trading a day in the kitchen for a couple of days in the backcountry?
Why not? We packed up our kids, ages 6 and 3, and drove over Cameron Pass into the Colorado State Forest State Park, where there are a smattering of rustic cabins and yurts. Some are drive-up, while others require a long ski or snowshoe in.
The area was a winter wonderland, complete with fresh powder, so we holed up in a yurt that was accessible with our four-wheel-drive vehicle. Little did we know this trip would include a plethora of exciting discoveries, laying the foundation for a new holiday tradition.
The excitement began the first night. I woke up after midnight and decided to check out the stars. Feeling my way through the pitch-black room from my bunk bed to the door, I walked onto the deck and looked up. With no light pollution, there seemed to be exponentially more stars than I typically see in my backyard.
As I stared, mesmerized, I suddenly heard a crunching sound and then the snap of a twig. I jumped. Clearly, something was out there, and I squinted to see. Although I could only make out a vague form, or maybe more than one, whatever it was seemed enormous.
My guess was moose, which live in the area, but I didn't want to shine a headlamp and scare them. Or maybe, more honestly, I was the one who was scared. I retreated to my bunk and dove into the covers.
The next morning, the mystery intensified. My husband and son went outside to play in the snow with a sled, while my daughter and I lounged near the fire with books, snacking on peanuts and chocolate chips (no cooking necessary).
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