It was another 4 miles down a road to the trailhead we were shooting for. The letters C.D.T., those were just letters, we were making our own way. It wasn’t even close to the official CDT, but it didn’t matter, we were walking into the Winds. A mile into our road-walk, another car stopped. Less time on the road meant more time in the mountains. An elderly woman looked back at us. “Where do you need to go?” She was amazing, dominating. She had a quicker wit than most people half her age, and she knew everything. She knew exactly where we were going, “Oh, I went back there 30 years ago”, she said, “the glaciers are really receding now though, it’s a sad thing to see.” She loved the Winds. She lived just off the road, owned an entire lake it seemed. “Here’s something you’ll want to see”, she stopped the car and pointed to a large rock. We got out to investigate. The side of the rock facing the lake was covered in a huge petroglyph. It wasn’t some simple handprint smear, it was an intricate carving, one that had taken time and planning to create, a god? a demon? both? “Oh, there are a bunch of them around here”, she told us. “There’s another”, she pointed up to a rock decorated with a crisp design even more detailed than the last. “This area was very sacred to the ancient people”, she said, in a tone that told us it was sacred to her too. Our guided tour was too brief, “Well, this is as far as I go.”, she told us, as she let us out just before the trailhead. She didn’t need to be excited for us, she’d been in these mountains, she knew where we were headed, she didn’t have to dream about any of it, it was her reality, her life.click to enlarge
We arrived at the trailhead and started walking. We were each weighed down by 7 days of heavy food, and didn’t make it very far. We called it a night on the side of a ridge, about 3 miles in.
A few miles into the next day, we left the trail. We’d picked the fastest route up to the divide, it was just a matter of following the topographic map. It was great, we could go anywhere it seemed, and anywhere we went, we were the only ones there. We weren’t trodding some path that had been explored by dozens of hikers over the last 20 years, we were just winging it. We climbed through a light rocky forest, then down to a small tarn. Then we went down some steep rocks to a creek, which we followed up a pile of boulders to the plateau of Shale Mountain. click to enlarge
Shale Mountain was a 12,000ft slanted shelf, 2 miles wide and 3 miles long. The surface of Shale Mountain was made from boulders, which were slowly being covered by grass and soil. How long, I wondered, had it been like that up there? It looked like the grass had just started growing, but I knew it was probably a hundred years old. The entire mountaintop had been covered with a sheet of ice during the little ice age, the one that had ended in the mid 1800’s. We hopped from rock to rock for two miles straight – it was the only to get sure footing. Far to our left and right, the edge of Shale Mountain dropped into thousand foot cliffs, we were on the island in the sky, our own private country: population 3. click to enlarge
Ahead of us, the mountain slowly rose, a 50-foot high anomalous stack of boulders marked the summit. On the way, we passed the last remnants of the little ice age – a permanent icy snowbank melting rapidly into a giant serene puddle which was framed by naked rocks. In one place, where the ice had cracked, I walked up into the belly of the dying monster. The sun beat through it, and a deep blue glow emanated from within. A rivulet of pure water drained from the top. It was real water, better than the kind of water they paid for in trendy cafes in Paris. I had all I could drink, more than I could ever hope to drink. I climbed up the summit stack of Shale Mountain. John and Mario were already there, examining a little jar containing a small note-pad – a summit register. Only one other person had signed it that year. The view south opened up, we could see miles of the divide – rolling grey peaks, covered in sheets of ice that got steeper and rougher as the miles wore on. click to enlarge
Our plan A was to walk the divide, south from Shale, a good 15 miles or so to Tourist Creek, then drop down and pick up the CDT once more. The sky wasn’t cooperating though, dark clouds had formed all around us, and it was just a matter of time before they broke open. We were standing quite literally on the highest point for miles – a little nipple of rock on a giant mound. John wrote in the register, “3 CDT hikers, black clouds, gotta go”. Anybody who read it would understand the urgency. We raced off the summit just as it stared to snow. The nearest tree was miles away, we had to be content with whatever cover we could get – our odds of “not being hit by lightning” improved slightly with each step downhill.
The dark rocks on the north side of Shale were the size of small cars and motorcycles, in every conceivable sharpened angular shape. No solid soil was visible beneath. I had the feeling that the entire mountain was just a mess of giant broken chunks, hundreds or thousands of feet deep, all stacked and balanced on top of one another. We hopped over dark gaps in the rocks, and balanced along their rough broken edges. I looked over at my companions as they glided effortlessly over the pile, not even thinking about any step, just moving, balancing, bouncing, drifting, picking their way along. We’d been doing it a lot. I’d never thought of rock-hopping as a skill, but apparently it was, and we were all champions at it. For one of the few times in my life, I felt somehow special. I was good at it. It wasn’t anything I’d consciously worked at, but there it was… I was having a blast. One bad step would have meant a certain serious injury, but it never even occurred as a thought, just as one doesn’t think about tripping down a staircase.
The snow quickly turned to a light rain. Sharp sonic booms echoed through mountaintops, plan B had definitely been the right choice. We spied a giant boulder that leaned on one side, there was a space underneath – out of the rain. We waited there for the storm to pass. We were near the shore of a small lake where the terrain was still dominated by dark jagged rocks, the sky was various shades of grey, constantly moving and reforming. The surface of the lake was still, the sparkle of fine raindrops faded quickly into the glass. The lake was young for a lake, but to us, everything was ancient.click to enlarge
As we descended from the lake, lower in elevation, the rock gave way to more alpine grass and flowers. We were re-entering a land where things could actually live, survive, and even thrive. The plants were always pushing that upper envelope, but they could only go so far. Lower, the grass and soil became dominant, a few sharpened tips of giant rocks poked out here and there, a reminder of what was underneath it all. Pikas perched themselves on the tips of rocks like little decorative fuzzballs, announcing their presence, “meeep”… “meeep”. click to enlarge
We continued, following our map, constantly re-examining it to make sure we were still on course. Just above us, clouds had covered the highest mountaintops. The clouds were whipping through and past the rock, swirling, breaking up and re-forming. An occasional crack of thunder gave a us a hint of what was going on behind the grey blanket. Again, we were glad we’d taken plan B. We passed by a series of tranquil lakes, framed with lush grass, grey rocks and alpine flowers, late in their bloom. It was summer, a brief time for the mountaintops. A month ago, the snow had finally melted, but in another month the next winter would start. We were still headed downhill. click to enlarge
We finally got low enough to intersect a trail. We passed a couple big backpacking tents, set up behind rocks. The first few dwarf trees appeared, the same species grew to 50 or 60 feet down low, but at elevation, they were barely higher than we were. We ducked under a few of them to dodge another rain squall… a pretty dismal shelter, but better than nothing.
A group of horse-packers were ahead of us on the trail. We assumed they had the same destination we did – Faler Lake. The horse-packers were having trouble with one stubborn greyish-white horse. The horse was loaded down with two gigantic boxes of… who knew what? all the stuff from which I was happy to be away, I supposed. They coaxed the horse, they tugged its reigns, they beat its backside… it moved a couple feet. They left it there on the side of the hill, alone, it was torture for a horse. It just stood there. “Was he scared of the lightning?”, I asked one of the packers. “Naw, he’s just tired, he don’t want to go anymore.” The horse wasn’t stubborn, it was utterly exhausted, it had lost all desire to move any further. In its mind, any degree of beating was better than one more step forward. I felt sorry for the horse. When they finally managed to get it down the hill, they unstrapped the boxes. Deep stretch marks were visible where the boxes had been tightly lashed down.
The hike down to Faler Lake was a postcard, a painting. It was unreal. The slope of short brown grasses led down to the lake, a blue fragment surrounded by sheer cliffs. As we hiked down, a bald eagle soared past, screeching, “I am free”. It was almost too perfect a scene to actually be real. Perfect how? It was that one great clip from that movie, the one that they played over and over and over, and it never got old… it was perfect like that.click to enlarge
We got down to the lake and found a place to camp, back in some trees. We sat in a small patch, eating our noodles and watching the horses graze. The packers were on the other side of the hill, near the lake, making a fire and setting up their army tents, I assumed. One of the horses was tugging desperately at a leg strap that kept it close to a tree, it didn’t understand. Another had already managed to free itself from its bonds. “These people…”, Mario shook his head, “They should at least brush the horses.”
The trail ended at Faler Lake, but the next morning, we kept going, beyond the end. The way was steep, very steep. We followed a wooded slope, next to a creek that raged down some rocks, down through the forest. The sound and feel of splashing water dominated. We found some small cairns on the right side of the stream… it was somebody’s secret route, their favorite place. The cairns didn’t mark a trail, just a way to weave through the woods without walking over cliffs. The forest flattened briefly at another lake, more isolated than Faler, perhaps even more majestic. It hardly seemed possible.
We kept heading down, past that lake too. The slope slightly flattened. The forest became a tangle of broken and fallen trees. It had burned a number of years ago, who knew when? The fire had created a maze, a barrier to all but the determined. That was us, we only had one way to go – forward. There were no complaints, I relished picking my way through the busted trees. We reached a natural bridge, where the river ducked under the earth, then back out the other side. Trail again. Then I remembered, walking didn’t have to be tough. The trail was like driving on smooth pavement after a life on a gravel washboard. We were sailing once again, the Winds were blowing and there was more to come.
I looked back toward where we’d come. The valley was perfect, a wide river wound through the tall green grass, jagged mountains were all around. I looked over the river and saw a small grassy knoll that rose slightly above the valley floor. It was where I needed to be. Obstacles had no meaning anymore, I waded through the thigh-high water and climbed up the knoll just to view the view. We’d just walked from “there”, I thought, all the way downhill from Shale Mountain… a day ago, from Canada, 2 months to the day. I knew why, but couldn’t explain it even to myself.click to enlarge
We were following the Green River, headed upstream, back “up there”, further south. The river flowed like a giant liquid emerald – glacial silt reflected the sun making the water glow a surreal aquamarine, as if enchanted by elves. Above us, peaks were everywhere. We slowly bent around Squaretop Mountain – every angle more revealing than the last. The trail was perfect. It was a snake, smooth and elegant, we rode its back, slithering through the woods on a magical mountain tour. click to enlarge
We took a break under some trees near a small creek. A couple hikers passed by, then a couple the other way. They were just more mountain wildlife – homo modernus nyloni. A couple of forest service workers passed by, dressed in camouflage green. We made up some excuse to talk to them. They had secrets, I thought, they’d been out there long enough, they knew something I needed to know… They had just blown up a dead mule, an aspect of the job they found both disgusting and humorous. What else does one do with a mule carcass laying on the trail? I didn’t ask where they’d put the dynamite. I was busy concocting a plan C, and asked them about it, “Hey, we were thinking of going up Knapsack Col & down the other side, do you think that’d work?” I had found that most government employees I met in the woods – national parks and national forests, etc, – either didn’t know much about off trail travel, or didn’t think that anyone was capable or deserving or responsible enough to try anything even slightly risky. These two were different though, they understood our motivations and our dirt. “I think it’d work, I’ve never done it, but it seems possible…” one of them figured. They were plum cool. They also suggested climbing Fremont Peak when John asked, “which peak would be killer.”
We passed the stench of the mule carcass… somewhere back there, it was nothing more than scraps of protein morsels the forest would soon consume. We climbed into the evening, into the sky. The clouds raced close above the treetops. We found a perfect campsite – a cleared area underneath a thick group of tall trees. I set up my tarp, my 3ft x 9ft home. The wind made soft music through the branches above as I took deep breaths and pulled my sleeping bag around my face. 2 months, was that all? At that rate, I figured, I’d live forever.
The sky was clear in the morning. I could feel that the weather had turned. Every morning was clear, but there was some intangible feeling about the start of days destined to stay that way. Maybe I’d tuned into the barometric pressure or something, I wasn’t sure. We climbed back above the trees, occasionally glancing back, down the gigantic valley that held the Green River. The river was just a shimmering line in the bottom of a vast undulating land.
A group of people were headed down from the pass above, Cube Rock Pass. The first one was sitting on a rock, staring ahead and breathing hard. “Tell the others I made it.”, he said urgently. “Ok”, we responded. We kept heading up. More homo modernus nyloni came down, “This is the worst trail I’ve ever been on!”, one of them exclaimed to anyone within earshot. Another warned us in a worried tone, “You’ll never make it through here, the trail is wiped out, it’s really easy to get lost.” 20 yards later, we came to an area where more gigantic boulders had slid down, obliterating any sign of a hiking trail. But it was barely worth a footnote in our books. We clamored over them, and reached smooth tread a couple minutes later. “Was that what had them all flustered?”, we asked each other. We got to the top of the pass and basked in the sun. I took off my shoes and felt the 2-inch grass permeate my souls.
We had to make a decision, would it be dragons or the chart? Somewhere up a slope of grass and rocks and glaciers was knapsack col – a notch of a pass, one that the maps didn’t show in much detail. It appeared there was a small glacier on the other side. We weren’t positive we could get through safely, but I was willing to gamble. I knew we’d figure something out. I wasn’t foolish, just confident, I knew the difference. John wanted to save his knees for Fremont Peak the next day. My knees weren’t a factor, I wanted to do both. Mario felt more like I did. “I go there”, he said, pointing to the mountiantops. So, we split up. The world was big, but the trail was thin, we’d see John again on the other side somewhere.click to enlarge
Mario and I stepped off the trail, and onto more giant megahedron boulders. Their size dwarfed all the previous “baby rocks” we’d walked on before. They were the size and shape of dead elephants, of buses and busted suburban homes. We were hiking in 3 dimensions, all directions, the maze continued around a small lake. We had to go backward to go forward, go up to get back down. It was the only way.
We stepped off the boulders and quickly encountered… a trail – a footpath beaten into the ground by generations of professional wanderers. The path led the way, up, up, past a roar of thick water, into the trickle of the fairy streams which poured out of the soil like as much magic – gifts for us mortals. The path wound up to the Col, a little notch above. Sheets of dirty ice decorated the mountainsides all around – rapidly melting glaciers covered with rocks, dying in the sunlight. It was a glorious death though, one for which they were worthy. Two travellers came our way. They’d met the old man on the mountaintop, and he’d sent them back, filled with words they couldn’t hear, and wisdom they could never understand. Mario immediately knew – they were Dutch. There, of all places, halfway ’round the globe from Holland. I wanted to be Dutch too.
We reached the top of the col, the pass. The world was below. I felt timid and small, I opened myself to the mountains and they swallowed me up. I was nothing, just a transient fleck of fleshy earth dust. If I could have lived forever, I thought, I would have been a rock on top of a mountain, watching time pass in eons like seconds. There. I immersed myself in the moment, I knew that for me, pitiful little me, the moment couldn’t last. I HAD to remember it all, every sense. The mountains were so lucky, I hoped they knew it. Ahead of us was a giant cirque of rock and ice. A 2000 foot vertical wall of cracks dominated the far side. Jagged peaks jutted above others and others – a parade of pinnacles that nearly encircled us. There was but one way down, all the everything drained down a hissing snakestream far below.
The way down led over a sheet of ice. It wasn’t too steep, but I had no way to gain traction. I tried every resource I could, but each step was a slip. Finally, I gave in to the slip and crouched down, I aimed for a adequate place to land. Tiny rivulets of glacial water streamed down the top of the ice – little clear ribbons, one next to the other, marching one way, forever downhill. They had it easy. But, I didn’t have it too hard. The slope of the ice eased and I was able to step onto solid rock before too long. In order to continue, the fastest way down was straight down. That way wasn’t steep, but it was all ice. The glacier wasn’t crevassed, at least not severely, but sliding down the snow and ice didn’t look inviting, I just knew, we had to traverse over the rocks, around the side of the ice. Plus, it looked like there’d be a great view that other way – I had my priorities!
The rocks on the side of the glacier were also giants, but we could see beneath them. Ice. We were far from solid ground. The boulders were new, they had only recently tumbled down onto the glacier, at least more recently than the ice had formed. The ice was melting, which meant the ice was moving, which meant the boulders were moving, shifting, slowly. They were not like the stable boulders we’d been cheerfully hopping through earlier. From the outside, they looked the same, they felt the same, but they were not. Each step required more thought, more caution. Progress was trickier, but we focused. The ice dimmed, further and further under the rocks… were we off the glacier yet? We stepped onto a small patch of soil, a plant or two. Ground again.click to enlarge
I couldn’t see the dragons, they were flying behind my head, turning when I turned. One of them let loose a huge hunk of the mountain from above a glacier, across the cirque. The rock tumbled down the steep ice, tearing up a cloud of snow, smashing into fragments, spinning, out of control. The thundering cracks and rumbles were delayed by the distance and refracted by the mountains, it sounded artificial. Dramatically, the gigantic boulder rolled down, down, finally crashing into its brothers, finding its new home. Each rock had been born of the same circumstance, each of these millions of rocks, alive and moving. “That is why I want to go here.”, Mario said, pointing underneath us. I had temporarily forgotten about the dangers of the fall-line, I had just wanted a view. The dragons were testing me, warning me, being nice this time.
We picked our way down more steep rocks and short cliffs. Finally, the slope abated, and we didn’t have to be as careful. We could just relax and enjoy the view of the towers all around. Near the base of the 2000 foot vertical wall, a small city of tents had sprung up, a few people wandered about. They were headed up to Gannet Peak the next day, or maybe it was going to take a couple days, I wasn’t sure. Gannet was the highest point in Wyoming, and that fact was an irresistible advertisement to anyone who loved climbing mountains. The group was from, of all places, Wisconsin. They were in a little over their heads, but they knew it, they were learning things, being cautious. Gannet wasn’t a super-technical climb, but it did require a knowledge of glacier travel techniques – rope, crampons, ice axes, knots, etc, etc, etc… They were excited for us, I was excited for them, for us too… I wanted to hug them. I didn’t care who they were or what they were doing, male or female? Whatever. I was just happy. I understood Azure.
As we continued down the the drainage, a giant pair of glacial lakes filled the valley below – Titcomb Lakes. The lakes glew blue and green in the sunlight that filtered through the clouds. We took a break in some soft short grass nearby. I didn’t want to move, didn’t want to walk any further. Whatever I’d been looking for on the hike, I’d found it… I just had to stay there a while and figure out what it was. Time had other ideas though, it was constantly pushing ahead, and as quickly as I’d decided to stay, I got up and continued down, on trail. I looked back every 5 steps though. The view was ever-changing, unbelievable. What was it about a view that awakened a fire within us? I wondered. I did not know the answer, I figured I’d never know, I just enjoyed the warmth of the flame, it was roaring. click to enlarge
We intersected the trail again, the CDT… or was it another trail, no matter, it headed where we wanted to go. John was right there, right then, completely through unplanned timing and luck. We said our hellos and headed toward Fremont peak.
The land was rolling, glaciated. True boulders, isolated rocks weathered into rounded shapes, dotted the landscape. Some other time, glaciers had covered the land, the boulders had fallen onto the glaciers and been carried by the slowly meandering ice. When the ice melted, the rocks settled to the ground. That ground still held the scars of the glaciers – it was solid rock, smoothly carved and shaped into lakes and hills. Plants had taken root, made thin soil, multiplied where they could. It would have been a bizarre landscape in any other setting. But there, it was everywhere, miles and miles of it, bounded by sharp peaks on one side, and a green sheet of forest on the other. click to enlarge
The pikas were talking to each other. I swore… planning some grand party or revolution. They chattered away in their one-word tongue, “meeep”, as the light silently faded. We spent the night in that place, 11,000 feet above the sea, 2700 feet below Fremont, waiting for the sun to spin around and give us another day.
Early the next morning, we headed up the mountain. The climb up was a gigantic decision matrix. There were a thousand correct paths, it was just a matter of choosing one. We drifted apart, each finding our own way, alone. The slope tilted up, my hands came into play. It was never really technically difficult or dangerous, just glorious. The world opened up beneath as I pulled myself through the field of rocks. I reached the top of Fremont Peak – population 5, elevation 13,745 feet. Two others had started out before us. The tip was small. The other side of the mountain was a vertical cliff, dropping straight down a hundred feet to a flat sheet of ice. We were on the divide, a ridge of similar peaks and cliffs extended northward. Gannet peak stood out among them, only 59 feet higher than we were standing, but… higher. There was a giant metal cannister under one of the rocks – a summit register in proportion to the peak. It was filled with names, dates, words, thoughts, memories, occasions, photos, praise, everything and anything people thought was important enough to leave. I left a few words, a few memories, and a few minutes of my life – time I was glad to donate, but then I thought, maybe like fishing, time spent on top of a mountain like Fremont didn’t count.click to enlarge
We headed down from Fremont. We had to put in some miles. There was still a CDT to be hiked, and there were many mountains ahead, we knew it, we could see quite a lot of them on the way down from the top of Fremont. Titcomb lakes laid below, two giant splotches of blue, they looked large, but not as large as they truly were. The land to the west gradually flattened to the horizon. The winds were big, but they were all in a line, hidden by huge tracts of rolling forest and desert to their sides. People didn’t know about the Winds, how was that possible? In a way I was glad that it was.click to enlarge
We circled around rock-bound lakes, up through more glacial hills and boulders. We passed occasional hikers, on their own trails, headed this way and that. By the early evening, the adrenaline had worn off, we were beat. We stopped for a break at a tranquil lake just inside the tree line – the first trees we’d seen in two days. In some other setting, the lake would have attracted throngs of fans, sported summer homes and cottages along the length of its shore, and been featured in magazines. In the Winds, it didn’t even have a name, it was just Lake 10,175 – distinguished only by its elevation. A hummingbird moth – an unlikely creature, more bird than insect – whizzed past my face while my body did nothing. “If only they could see this place… see this moth…”, I silently pondered and shook my head. The break lasted all night.click to enlarge
The next day was a work day, we had miles to cover. We were going through a section of the winds that saw little traffic. Most other hikers came east to the mountains, then back west to their cars – a day each direction. We were headed south, across the grain of the sparse human traffic, with the grain of the divide. There was nobody out there, just occasional lonely signposts, secretive mountain fauna, and the faded prints of quickly forgotten travelers. The trail wound around the mountains, traversing the flanks of a giant ridge to our left, the divide.click to enlarge click to enlarge
We drifted away from the highlands, into thicker and thicker woods. I stopped to filter some water from a forested lake. It was gigantic puddle replenished each year by rains and melting snow, then sucked dry by the sun and earth sponge underneath. The sparkle of water hid the true dryness of the place. The lakes were warm and stagnant. A dozen miles to the west, the land was sagebrush, desert. John put it bluntly, “This water tastes like ass.”
A small group of backpackers arrived at the lake – they were done for the day at 3pm. It had been a long walk from their cars to the lake, from their sedentary lives to that temporary other one they were just figuring out. As usual, I asked them where they were headed. “Oh, we’re going all the way up to Europe Basin”, the man said, He looked proud, strong, “It’s a long way up there”, he boasted, trying to convey his sense of pending accomplishment. “That should be great.”, I replied. I looked it up on the map later, 11 miles. I was happy for him, he was pushing his own limits in his own way. They never asked us where we were going, or where we’d been. But it didn’t matter.
We finally found rest at 25 miles. 3 miles short of our original plan, but far enough – it was always time for a new plan. We set up camp on the grassy shore of a large lake in the unnamed zone between mountains and desert.
The next morning, we continued over rolling grassy hills. The craggy ridge of the divide was visible in the distance. The trail faded away, we were left with occasional cairns, small piles of rocks in a sea of grass. I rolled ahead, Mario and John disappeared.
I came down to a green grassy valley, where a herd of a thousand sheep was grazing. In “the wilderness”. In 1963, congress passed the Wilderness Act – designed to set away land from the impacts of man, to preserve bits of what was once everywhere. Most designated “wilderness areas” were rough and rugged land, rock and ice and thick forests, land that people hadn’t yet pushed each other into. The Wind River mountains were covered with a network of intertwining wilderness areas, areas that stretched all the way north to the Tetons and Yellowstone. But before 1963, back a couple hundred years, people had been grazing sheep in the lush mountain valleys in the summers. The wilderness areas were a compromise, the livelihood and traditions of a few people depended on grazing rights, and that trumped any other priority. Their grazing rights were their identity, without sheep, without access to the land, they were nothing, they would cease to exist. But, they mostly hired cheap South American and Basque shepherds – those were the people actually out with the sheep. The people who held the grazing rights? They owned the sheep, collected the money, and occasionally drove jeeps or rode horses out to check on things. They’d convinced themselves that they were really doing all the work, that the land was their ancestral home. But, I felt their real connection to the land went straight through a bank.
The trail became a stock-driveway, littered with sheep shit. A few cows wandered here and there, thrown in for decoration, why not. The lakes began to really taste like ass, they’d been reduced to giant watering holes for the sake of business as usual – shores of hard-packed dirt and churned-up mud.
John and Mario showed up, they’d taken an unexpected detour somewhere back in the fields – the scenic route. We’d hiked 20 flat miles by 3pm. A few more miles and we popped out at Big Sandy Lodge.
We were tired, the lodge was quiet. It consisted of a series of cabins and one main building. A few quiet people worked there. The clientele of the lodge was mostly hunters and fishermen. We were there in the off-season. We had sent a package to the lodge from Dubois. We’d mailed it on a Monday, via priority mail, to Rock Springs Wyoming – where the lodge’s owners lived – the package hadn’t arrived. The owners had just been in Rock Springs the previous day – no box… sorry. There wasn’t anything they could do. We had no new supplies, and we were a good sixty miles from the nearest paved road. They offered us a box full of things that other hikers had left behind – a tube of tomato paste, some couscous, rice. It wasn’t enough. We ate a quiet dinner at the lodge, and thought about our fate. There was only one choice – we had to get out, had to skip ahead.
There was a trailhead parking area about a mile from the lodge. We walked there. The lot was filled with cars. The trail beyond the cars led to what was probably the most popular group of mountains in the Wind River Range – the Cirque of Towers – a group of mountains we now wouldn’t get to see. Oh well. Certainly, we figured, somebody would be hiking out of there the next morning, we’d get a ride to some town… somewhere in Wyoming, we’d figure things out as we went.