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Stepping to a high point, a degree panoramic sweep elicits a chuckle; the erratics ranging from small boulders to house-side blocks appear to have been strewn across the landscape as if a giant had tossed dice. Soon the fishing lines were swinging overhead, then followed the catch of small mountain trout. The rest of us struck up a conversation with passing through-hikers Speedy and Dream Walker, two young women from Germany who marveled at what they consider to be the most beautiful part of their trek.

Afterward the icy waters of the outlet creek had to be forded, numbing our calves and feet. We encountered a Forest Service work crew of ten upgrading the trail. Allison and Alex explained that they worked eight days then were off six which gave them time to explore the region.

We expressed our gratitude for all their hard work. Now, I have seen guitars on packs before so Beaver's load was no surprise, but croquet clubs? John and Catlin explained that they liked to take advantage of the sun drenched green meadows for a relaxing afternoon competition. The wind and rain attacked just as our tents were up and our meals ready to eat. We plunged for shelter and embraced the cozy dry comfort. Peeking out as the storm subsided, Tin Cup invited us to view a double rainbow arching overhead.

Next morning we were able to dry our equipment as we parted company. Passing by Shadow Lake we saw a family with four small children toying with the frigid waters and were impressed that such small tykes had come so far into the back country. Lonesome Lake sprang into our view as we descended Texas Pass, monolithic Pingora Peak pointing its conical bulk skyward in the background. A gentle riverside trail led to our exit. Now, closer to an access road, countless outdoor enthusiasts streamed by, climbers laden with ropes and hardware, horseback riders and day-hikers out for a stroll.

Pete's wife was there to meet us. His son Shaun sprinted to his dad and leaped into his arms.

MIKE FINK - KING OF THE RIVERS

We all assembled pack at Pinedale. Several had to leave but some of us drove out to an overlook that evening to await the blood moon. Driving back home was a trip down memory lane. This was the fifth time I had gone through Yellowstone; the first time was on our honeymoon fifty years ago. As I reflected on the past and the present I thanked God for all His many blessings, faithfulness to vows, opportunities to experience His miraculous creation, the amazing revelation that we can know our Creator and life itself.

The awareness was all the more acute as I had just learned of the passing of one of my dear students from my first years of teaching. May everyone discover the comfort and the blessings awaiting all who seek. Don Johnson. Floater was a mountain-man-thru-hiker-horse-whisperer kind of person. Buckskins and go-light gear and a handlebar mustache were all things he wore well. Floater rendezvoused and reenacted long before his journey through the Continental Divide in But something larger than himself drove him to take on the challenge of that 3,mile trek from Mexico to Canada.

He got some practice by first thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail , but it was the Rocky Mountains that really called to him. Or maybe it was the calls from his long-distance hiking buddies that egged him on. The four of them hiked through the New Mexico deserts and Colorado snowfields for months, long awaiting the crown jewel of the Wind River Range. Mother Nature and a negligent campfire had other plans.

The wildfires that temporarily closed the Wind River Range for that week forced them to an alternate route, hiking along the highway a far distance off from the spectacular peaks. Not that anything could ever get Floater down — after all, he had snickers and ramen and a rain parka that he called a tent. And the comradery of kindred spirits, cultivated through long miles and boyish banter. The comradery that carried them on through the entire length of the Continental Divide Trail.

How could the youngest and strongest hiker of the crew be the first to go? But he met death as a companion in his life journey, rather than a feared stranger.

Why else would they choose to celebrate his life on the tops of the Wind River mountains, with exhilaration rather than despair? But somehow the 9 of us all ended up in Pinedale, WY on the same date in the same cabin, ready to honor Floater with a memorial hike from Green River Lake to Big Sandy trailhead. And feeling every ounce of his presence as my brother and I embraced at the sunrise summit of the Cirque. We knew that we made the right choice to take the long way home, over Texas Pass, putting in a few extra hard miles, just as our dad would have done.

We were given the time and the terrain to help us remember how close our family love is intertwined. As Clark reminded us on Hat Pass, our lives live on through the stories that we continue to tell. And stories need context and time and trust that can come through experiencing wild places.


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It felt OK to cry there. As I transitioned back into the modern world of airports and cell phones, I texted Tin Cup:. Thank you for guiding us through the journey. These are blessings, just as was my friendship with your father. Love, Cup only 1 person called me Cup. Brush and Trees and Sticks and Stones.

Rocks and Summits and Valleys and Meadows.

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Rivers and Deserts and Sunsets and Sunrises. Rivers and Desert and Sunsets and Sunrises.

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Halfway On Mountain Man Mike's Journey

Growing up in Pinedale as a kid, we were always camping and doing outdoorsy stuff, but never hiked in the Winds. Even after getting married and moving back to WY it was still three years before some friends from Jackson invited us to go on a 3 day hike with them in the Wind Rivers. I was sick of hearing about people visiting from across the country or even the world just to hike the mountains in our back yard… and we never had. The time came when we all piled in a car and drove to the Elkhart Park trailhead about 20 minutes outside of Pinedale, WY. Turns out we were all out of shape, which made me feel better.

A long centipede-like line of huffing and puffing people laughing and stopping every 45 min. The goal was Island Lake, which to us was a daunting 11 miles in. Along the way we gawked at the beautiful landscapes surrounding us. We knew Pinedale was beautiful, but when we were finally up that high in the mountains, with nothing surrounding us but dense nature, we felt small and empowered all in one. Although the leader of our pack was pushing us on, most of us started getting fatigued about 7 miles in. Setting up camp commenced somewhat like a game.

A race to find the best spot. Proudly I showed off the perfect camp spot to my husband right before the guys went fishing and the girls popped open a bottle of scotch someone brought and proceeded to gossip. Here I will tell one of my favorite, most horrifying and amusing things about going hiking with a large group of people. Your bathroom spot.

Picking it is not quite the problem as there are many nice ones…making sure others do not stumble upon your spot especially when you are USING it is another matter.

Campfire Stories | storiesfromthewild

They were mostly young, in their twenties and thirties. Daring, curious or rebellious, each of them chose to leave the familiarity of the settlements to take part in the first commercial enterprise of the American West — the beaver fur trade. Hat makers in the US and Europe made their best felt hats using beaver fur, and this demand created economic ties between remote trapping grounds and the rest of the world. Though commerce, the fur trade connected cities, frontiers, and Native Americans. This industry also needed enterprising men like Glass to live and hunt among the mountains for years at a time.


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The mountaineers developed skills to live in the west of the s. They gained a mental picture of the country that was much more accurate than the sketchy maps of the day. They learned to communicate with the Native people, and to recognize friends and foes. The mountaineers learned how to survive more than a thousand miles beyond the settlements with limited supplies, a rifle and a few tools.

The story tellers among them would let you know that in the Rockies the mountain men lived a tall tale every day. By the , a renewed interest in the Rocky Mountain beaver fur trade prompted Saint Louis capitalists to look westward.

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William Ashley, Lieutenant Governor of Missouri, as well as businessman and militia general, decided to enter the fur trade in Andrew Henry was, at that time, one of few men with personal experience running trapping and trading ventures in the Rocky Mountains. As partners in a new fur company, Henry would command in the field and Ashley would handle logistics and finance. The plan was to establish a fort on the upper Missouri, supply it by keelboat, and use it as a base from which to send trappers out into the mountains.

The company would primarily harvest furs directly rather than depend on Indians to bring furs in to trade.