Running in the Hills-Hiking in the Winds Part 1
From Great Outdoor Store
Any time spent on a trail is time well spent. Recently, I got the opportunity to spend some time on the Centennial Trail and then back in the Wind River Range with my husband Jeff, my brother Matt, his wife Lisa, and our two dogs Buck and Sydney. Jeff did most of the planning for this trip—including a spreadsheet on calorie consumption and an extremely thorough gear list. This trip was months in the making. Jeff and I haven’t been back country camping since 2007, when we went back into the Winds with our friends Thane and Brenda Paulsen. Matt, Lisa and the dogs had never been in the back country, so in addition to getting in shape all of us needed new packs, boots, trekking poles, sleeping bags, and a new can of bear spray.
After getting geared-up (more on that later) the four of us and the dogs did a shakedown hike with our new Osprey packs at Newton Hills earlier this summer. Because of the wet spring, the trails out there was pretty torn-up. Going uphill with a pack full of 5 days worth of supplies was challenging, but I kept thinking that the trail out West would be in much better shape in early July. My biggest concern for the Winds were mosquitoes. We've had trips back there cut short because of them. Little did we know that the muddy conditions on the horse trails at Newton Hills were going to be excellent practice for the Winds.
The packs aren't completely stuffed, but they were heavy enough.
The plan was to meet Matt and Lisa in Pinedale the day after I ran the Black Hills 50 mile race in Sturgis. This race seemed like a good idea this winter when I was suffering from cabin fever, had all the time in the world to train, and needed something to look forward to. Reality hit a few weeks prior to the race as I struggled to complete a fifteen mile training run, so I dropped down to the 50K. For some reason 31 miles seemed doable. And it was doable until about mile 15 (shocking, I know), but by then I had caught up to my friend Natalie Stamp who was running the 100 mile race. We stuck together through the heat, hills, and humidity until I caught my second wind during the final leg of the race. Natalie finished her 6th 100 miler like a champ with her son Brady pacing not long after I crossed the finish line. I have no photographic evidence of me crossing the finish line, but I do have a cool mug to prove it.
In the words of Robert Frost,
the woods were lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.
So, we hung around the finish line for what felt like two minutes and hopped in the car for a four-hour drive to Casper. I booked a random dog friendly hotel on the drive and we rolled into the parking lot around 10pm. After a lengthy check-in process, we got to our room and found this on the door. I didn’t care and figured it had probably been thoroughly cleaned.
We only stay at the nicest places. Turns out it was a meth bust.
We got an alpine start the next morning and made our way to Pinedale. Matt and Lisa had been living it up in Cheyenne, so they did not get an alpine start. This gave Jeff and I time to purchase more stuff for our 5-day hike. We stopped at Great Outdoor Shop to get the lowdown on trail conditions heading back into Titcomb Basin from the Pole Creek trailhead. The staff made it sound like we would have no problem with mosquitoes, but we might run into a little bit of snow. We got to the trailhead around 2pm and started sorting gear with the intention of getting a start on the hike yet that day. Several groups of people were coming of the trail as we were sorting and they gave us a little more accurate report of the conditions: snow. Lots of it. This new intel slowed the sorting process to the point of “hey, let’s just camp at the trailhead and start in the morning”. The campground at the trailhead was empty, so we picked a spot and made it our home for the night.
Note the deet. The mosquitoes were a little aggressive at the trailhead campground.
Tune in next week for Part 2 of Running in the Hills-Hiking in the Winds!
The look on Buck's face is a bit of foreshadowing.
Nancy is a sometimes ultramarathoner, back country hiker, and sailor. She spends most of her free time in the garden and tending to barnyard animals. Her travels have taken her to a few corners of the world, but Mexico is where her heart is (and her sailboat). Nancy's been a member of the GOS team since 2002.