Guest Post: Hiking with Heidi, Winner of the Gooseberry Yurt Vacation Contest

09.25.2014 | 9:00 am

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A Note from Fatty: A few weekends ago, The Hammer, the twins and I got to spend a couple of days hiking and camping with Heidi, the winner of the contest The Hammer ran as a fundraiser for World Bicycle Relief. 

Heidi is awesome. Also, she dyes yarn for a living. If you’ve never known that yarn can be beautiful (I didn’t, for example), you should check out Heidi’s Etsy store: Grant Creek Yarns

Heidi agreed to write up the story from the weekend, giving me a nice little day off (for about the first time ever, I have had to do exactly no editing to this guest post).

Also, Heidi’s post gives me a great chance to remind you that I’ve got a new contest going on right now — a chance to come race on a team with Levi Leipheimer and me. This contest — which benefits Forget Me Not Farm — ends a week from today, so you better go donate soon.

Heidi’s Guest Post: The Gooseberry Yurt / Hiking Zions Weekend

Hi, I’m Heidi, the lucky winner of the Gooseberry Yurt Vacation, here to report on our grand adventure.

I was absolutely delighted to win this trip, and spending a weekend hiking in Zion was right up my alley. Lisa and Elden were brave souls to open their lives up to a complete stranger from Montana. I was tickled to hear that Elden’s twins would be able to join us; the more the merrier, and it was fun to hear their take on things.

Due to the timing of my flight along with the long (beautiful!) drive, it would have been fairly late by the time we reached the yurt. Rather than unpack and set up in the dark, Lisa switched up the plans and we spent the first night at an elegant home about an hour from Zion that was made available by her friends. There I learned fascinating, possibly little-known facts about Lisa and Elden: Lisa was a contestant on The Price is Right (we watched the video!), and Elden makes a kick-ass cup of French press coffee.

We packed a lot into the weekend. I had never been to Zion, and Lisa was excited to show it off. On Saturday morning, we hiked four miles up to Observation Point, gaining 2,100 feet in elevation. The website for Zion describes it well:

“Spend a few hours trudging up a steep mountainside to one of the best viewpoints offered by the list of Zion’s classic trails. This challenging path is complete with dizzying drop offs and eye popping scenery looking down into Zion Canyon. The maintained path zigzags its way up the steep mountainside beside familiar reddish Navajo sandstone before venturing through Echo Canyon, a deep gorge filled with water gnawed sandstone pockets. Near the top of the trek you will see white rock; this layer is known as the Temple Cap formation. Beyond Echo Canyon walls drop sharply, giving way to spectacular views. At the trails end, looking down into the canyon is a spectacular display of stone sculptures contrasted by the bluest of skies – thanks to the clean air of southern Utah.”

There was so much to see, and the views kept changing along the way.

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Lisa pointed out that the four one-mile sections up alternated between comfortable and steeper/more challenging. It reached 93 degrees in the park that day, and I had to call breaks to catch my breath on the final mile (but I think the twins secretly cheered when I did). Lisa, of course, looked fresh as a daisy.

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Here is the stunning view that awaited us at the top:

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After lunch, we were ready to walk up the Narrows River. It was fun to watch so many people of different ages, shapes, sizes, and nationalities bobbing and laughing in the river. I was glad I took Lisa’s suggestion and used one of the walking sticks left by earlier waders, otherwise I might have ended up in the drink.

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After picking up some fantastic brick oven pizza from the Pizza Wagon in the town of Hurricane, we headed to the yurt. It’s quite a ride in! It was later than anticipated, so we were fortunate to have an almost-full moon to light our way. The yurt is a camper’s paradise with very comfortable accommodations. (Thanks so much, Kenny and Heather! I’m sorry you weren’t able to join us, I would have loved to meet you.) Elden built an admirable fire; s’mores were consumed and we enjoyed a camp song the twins learned at Camp Kesem. The next morning brought a quick rainfall and Elden snapped a shot of this gorgeous rainbow:

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Yup, it was pretty tough having to wake up to that view… Absolutely amazing. What a great place.

We returned to the park and hiked to the three Emerald Pools. Late in the season, they were lower than Lisa had ever seen them, but they were still very beautiful.

And then wham, bam, it was time to hit the road and get me back to the airport for my return flight to Missoula.

I can’t thank Lisa, Elden, and the girls enough for accepting me into their pack for a weekend and sharing this wonderful adventure with me. I was made to feel so welcome, and I came away with some lovely memories. Many, many thanks.

As a reminder for how my weekend came about… World Bicycle Relief made an excellent decision in choosing Lisa to be a Team WBR Ambassador. Lisa has surpassed her original fundraising goal of $20,000; her current total stands at $23,726, enough to buy 177 bikes. So many lives will be changed!


  1. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.25.2014 | 9:12 am


    Dye me green-with-envy that you got to meet the clan AND hike Zion!!!

    Thanks for the write-up!

  2. Comment by zeeeter | 09.25.2014 | 10:25 am

    Fantastic write-up, and a cool reminder of our own travels through the park in July – the emerald pools surprised us with 90+ temperatures at the bottom pool, and sleet at the top ones – in July! The narrows never fail to impress – good times!

  3. Comment by The Hammer/Lisa | 09.25.2014 | 10:43 am

    What a great write up Heidi! It was an awesome weekend-one I won’t forget! I’m so grateful to you and your generous contributions to WBR and all of Elden’s fundraiser! You are fantastic person-Thanks for making our weekend so enjoyable!

  4. Comment by Corrine | 09.25.2014 | 1:11 pm

    Great write up! It sounds like you had a fantastic weekend. I’m so glad that you won and had an incredible adventure!

  5. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.25.2014 | 1:36 pm

    Great write-up and photos, Heidi. Glad you had the opportunity!

  6. Comment by MattC | 09.25.2014 | 5:31 pm


    Way to go Heidi!! You did all of us FOF’s proud! Someday I MUST get to that area and see it for myself…(I actually need a place to retire to during the winter in about 8 years…and the St. George area is on my list to check out)…can you LIVE in a yurt during the winter there?

  7. Comment by KateP | 09.25.2014 | 5:55 pm

    What a great adventure writeup! And what gorgeous yarn. I couldn’t believe it when I saw yarn on the feed reader. I though it had sent one of my knitting blogs to the wrong folder!

  8. Comment by davidh-Marin,ca | 09.25.2014 | 9:33 pm

    Heidi, a great story, and a wonderful tale. Only appropriate that you won and had the opportunity to add your story to all the yarns Fatty has been spinning for years.

  9. Comment by Liz M. | 09.26.2014 | 11:34 am

    Thanks for the write up! Love hearing from the winners of the Fat Cyclist contests. And the photos are breathtaking. Glad you had such a great time.

  10. Comment by Heidi | 09.26.2014 | 12:11 pm

    Thanks for the lovely comments! The fantastic photos are courtesy of Lisa and Elden. Elden mentioned that we’d seen about a tenth of the park, and I’d love to go back to explore more.

    Thanks, KateP! I update the shop twice a month. I have a Grant Creek Yarns group on Ravelry with 300+ members, and you’re welcome to join us.

    @MattC, I think living in a yurt in the winter would be very doable – in Hawaii!

  11. Comment by PNP | 09.26.2014 | 2:12 pm

    Heidi, your yarns make me want to start crocheting again. What beautiful colors!

  12. Comment by esteefatty | 10.4.2014 | 1:03 pm

    Love your spinning Heidi. My spinning happens on an Erotel Roberta wheel. Got a batch of hand paint silk winding on my bobbin now. Thanks for telling your story!

  13. Comment by Heidi | 10.4.2014 | 6:16 pm

    Ah, if only! No, the skeins are mill-spun.

  14. Comment by esteefatty | 10.5.2014 | 6:34 pm

    It’s your color combinations and dye work that make those skeins truely fabulous.


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