Thursday, July 30, 2020

Discovering what’s possible

The Wind River has become for us the place of possibility. Running northwest to southeast for 100 miles, over 40 of its peaks reach 13,000+ feet into the heavens. Most of it is designated as “wilderness” and therefore federally protected from development and human impact. This makes the Wind River Range one of the largest road-free areas in the USA. It’s truly a wild place, and you feel that as you walk through it’s remote landscape. It’s the place of possibility. Climbers wonder if they can summit its highest peaks and steepest granite walls. Hikers wonder if they have the endurance to venture deep into its back country to destinations that will require many miles on foot. Backpackers wonder if they can endure the extreme & temperamental weather the Wind River produces. Even in its history, it seems that it has always been a place of possibility for human beings. Indigenous peoples lived in this incredible landscape 9,000 years ago. The Shoshone people lived at 10,000 feet elevation for pinenut harvesting each year. For them, this landscape may have meant the possibility of survival. Much later in the early 1800’s when Europeans visited here, they surveyed the landscape as a way to mark the continental divide and find a way to cross through it. Their expedition became an important part of the Oregon Trail. For these early explorers this range may have meant the possibility of travel. 

For our family, the Wind River Range has also been a place of possibility. We didn’t know coming into this trip if it was possible to actually backpack with a four, six, eight, and ten-year-old. We also didn’t know if it was possible for us to really access the Wind River because of what it requires to travel deep into its alpine basins. Being here has taught us that what’s possible is contingent on passion. Possibility is passion with legs. Our family has a passion for pursuing beauty in creation. It’s not enough for us to see it in a painting or on a TV screen. We want to experience it by becoming a part of the landscape - whether by climbing up onto its “shoulders” or hiking and backpacking into its “heart”, we move our bodies in choreographed unison as a way to connect to beautiful places and one another. It’s the possibility of connectivity and it’s the passion for beauty which moves our family’s 12 legs.

Our third backpacking trip took us to Island Lake and the Titcomb Basin. It required 33 miles of effort and 4,400 feet of elevation gain. For five days we enjoyed this part of the Wind River Range. It was truly our best backpacking trip to date.  Those five days included three hiking days and two “off days.” The kids all hiked really well and enjoyed the experience. The kids also learned what’s possible! 

Base camping at Island Lake

Hiking to Titcomb Basin

For most of our trip we had INCREDIBLE weather, but on one off day we spent the day in our tent under thunderstorms, wind, rain, and hail. We played a lot of games (Uno, Sushi Go, Apples to Apples) ate candy, told stories, read books, and took naps. 

After the skies cleared our hike out was under sun and clouds — perfect!

These are good days. 

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