Caren Ware's Blog

October 27, 2012

Not all who wander are lost.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 10:06 pm

Just some of us. The Wind River Range is south of Jackson.   Its southernmost trailheads are about a three hour drive.   It is a pretty drive.  The drive takes you across a high prairie that makes wide Wyoming…wide Wyoming.  You have to share the dirt road with herded cattle.  Also, very Wyoming.  The range sets far back from any highway and is larger and more looming than the Tetons.  The Wind River Range has granite; more rock than Yosemite, and just as striking.  The small town of Pinedale is the nearest settlement.

The trees are autumn.  The sun warms during the day and when it disappears behind a cloud, or a mountain, or for the night the temperatures drop wildly.  They call this the Wind River Range for a reason.  It has these thermo swirling pockets of wind, followed by silence and stillness.  The gusts can knock you off your feet with a pack on.  I choose to hike from Sandy Lake trailhead past Big Sandy Lake, over Jack Ass Pass, and into Tower of the Circques. The Cirques are an amphitheater of granite mountains with a reflective lake in the valley. The reward of hauling self, and pack, and goods, and a good tent is the perch it gets to go on.  There are so many boulders, but with wooded flat spots to establish a panoramic view point for a camp. Picking a spot to camp is like picking the perfect Christmas tree.  It has that same kind of fun.

I wanted to test my new lightweight, but roomy tent I had gotten at Teton Mountaineering as a perk for timing their race.  I had a purple colored water bottle and matching purple covered Jet Boil stove.  It felt cute.  The ‘camp’ was simple and serviceable, and surprisingly warm inside the tent.   It was so, so good to just be out, in the wind and the last glimmers of summer, well, more like fall.

Thankfully, another outdoor retail worker was off and wanted to make the same trek.  We treated it as a solo trip, each carrying all our own gear and setting up camp independently so we could see if we had all the right stuff for a long trek.  It was a good test to see if everything was working.  Had it not been for his presence in that valley I probably would not have figured out how to set up my tent.  He came to my rescue.  The tent was retailed in his store and the grey strings matched on one end while the orange on the other.  Ohhhh.

Though we wandered the valley solo and spent our days poking all over the circques, it WAS nice to know that there was another human being.  But oddly, it was nice to know just one.  Had the valley been full of climber camps and lots of people, it would not have had the draw and refresh that it gave at this moment.  The idea that we were here in contempt of approaching snow, denying the threat of a season change to keep us out made it.  Tickled.  We had this entire part of that range to ourselves.  I liked my gear and would have been quite comfortable save my thermo rest pad had a hole and I got the consequence of sleeping on hard ground.

As we hiked out we chatted about nothing in particular and everything that makes being in the outdoors great.  He is young, and energetic, and hopeful of the life that this area can open up for him.  He was raised on a farm on the east coast and proceeded to scare trout up stream and catch them with his bare hands.  That was impressive.

There are many days, almost daily, that I take a rollercoaster ride between being in total awe of this place, that it is good to be here,  and then  I drop, overcome by the pioneering spirit it is asking me to have to be here , as a female, alone.  The family, relationships, and potentials I left behind.  Oddly, being here is for them.  For me, for them.  Becoming more in tuned.  And guess what.   Chatting along a trail, I find that another, though different circumstances, different life, different age, also has questions, and struggles.  I am not alone.

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