The first week of August, I set out with a group of tight-knight friends to discover the Wind River High Route. Variations of this route have been mapped extensively and most notably by Andrew Skurka and Alan Dixon and Don Wilson (we followed the latter route). The route – mostly above treeline – runs the length of the Wind River Range following the continental divide as closely as possible.
Over the course of six days, we covered 80 miles (about 30 miles on trail, 50 miles off trail), climbed over nine passes and crossed two glaciers ... racking up 20,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain. We ate four cheese cake desserts, skirted innumerable lakes and granite walls, and marveled at the stars and wildflowers, which happened to be in full bloom.
Photos don’t do justice to the journey. Every single moment seemed to reveal a view, smell or sound (does true silence count as a sound?!?) so amazing that it felt my human senses weren’t adequately equipped to process it. It was almost other worldly, dream likes, something out of a beautiful fairy tale, but one with no particular plot line other than one song-inspiring moment leading to another song-inspiring moment.
Which is not to say this route is easy. It’s not. The third day – which followed on the heels of two big pushes to make sure we crossed the glaciers in the afternoon when the sun had softened the snow allowing our lightweight, minimal tread running shoes better grip – proved particularly challenging for me. It involved incessant boulder hopping and a seemingly circular route. My full-body-tired mantra became, “Every step gets me closer to my sleeping bag.”
Mind blowing beauty and total exhaustion aside, what I most valued was the inward journey that ran concurrent with the outward one. In this day and age, it’s rare to completely turn off the cell phone and step away from distractions. Taking on something so routine and monotonous – walk, eat, sleep, repeat – finally allowed me to think ... fully, deeply, creatively, insightfully, joyfully. And above all else that was the most enduring gift of the Wind River High Route.
Here are 25 of my favorite photos from the trip, in no particular order. They were taken by both myself and Abby Broughton. I hope you enjoy and feel inspired to get out on your own excursion, no matter how big or small.