Just imagine. Before turning in you step outside. The cold is bracing, refreshing. Listening intently, you quiet your breath. There isn’t a sound, just the faint stir of wind in snow laden pines.
As eyes adjust to the night the sky becomes alive, rivers coursing through the pulsating glow of the Milky Way. Orion hovers above, hunting, oblivious to your gaze. The snow before you shines as if lit from within. The only darkness is the mountain face towering above you, as if the rocks have cut out a piece of sky. You trace the jagged outline of the ragged spires, the mighty Nokhu Crags.
This is the view as it was in the days of the first mountain men: A simple cabin, the scent of wood smoke from your fire, the sound of silence.
You turn and step in to family and friends, sound asleep. The morning coffee on the porch will be heavenly. You’ve learned that “no-khu” is from the Arapahoe language, “neaha-no-xhu”, meaning “eagles’ nest”. Ne a ha! What a fine nest this is.
You’re resting in the warmth of the Nokhu Hut, one of two simple cabins in the heart of my favorite mountains, the Never Summer Range. It is a comfortable walk on snow shoes, a mile and a half up the Lake Agnes jeep road off of Colorado 14 about two hours’ drive from Cheyenne. Some choose to make the trek on cross country skis.
The cabins, owned by Colorado State Parks, are managed by Never Summer Nordic. Well equipped with pots and pans, dishes, propane for the range and lamp and firewood for the stove, they sleep six. Water is made by melting snow on the stove. The privy can be exhilarating.
Lake Agnes is a steeper mile above the cabin, a majestic glacial cirque carved out of these golden volcanic mountains. A charming island emerges through the ice. Mt. Richtofen towers above at 12,940’, the highest point of the range.
The adventurous back country skier can find fresh powder between the peaks. Others enjoy snow shoeing about, cross country skiing on the roadways or playing non-video games, watching the kids frolic in the snow.
Never Summer Nordic also manages eleven yurts, circular canvas and wood structures, on the western side of the Medicine Bow Mountains in Colorado further along Colorado 14 above the small town of Gould. Six are reached by snowshoe or ski only; five can also be reached by snowmobile. A multi-day trip can be made going from yurt to yurt. For information call (970) 723-4070 or go to http://www.neversummernordic.com
The Medicine Bow National Forest rents four winterized cabins, big and small, in the Snowy Range of Wyoming. They are accessed by snowmobile or snow shoe: Brush Creek Work Center, the Snow Survey Cabin, Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station and the Keystone Ranger Station. Information and reservations are through http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/recreation/rentals/#medbow or call (307) 745-2300.