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No campfires, but many memories

Life usually gets in the way of everything I plan. Some would say I let it, others would say I need to learn to say no.

This weekend, “life” simply took a turn and caused a change in events.

I’ve written, several times now, about a trek to the top of Cloud Peak scheduled for this summer with friends.

The idea wasn’t mine. A friend and colleague had been talking about it and said she’s always wanted to do it. I helped push to make that happen.

We had decided to make the trek early this spring and have been planning and taking smaller hikes on and off throughout the summer to prepare.

Today, she will make the climb.

We’ve read books, studied maps, had our fair share of self-doubts and rallied over wine to decide that yes, we can do this.

It will likely be hard, as we haven’t trained nearly as much as we should have. But, it will also be full of memories. And while I won’t make the summit (it will require one more day than I can devote to the trip), I’ll be with her in spirit the whole way. I hope she’ll share photos.

I’ve never wandered into the Cloud Peak Wilderness and I cannot wait to experience the quiet and the solitude that comes along with no cellphones, no rumble of ATVs in the distance and no dust being stirred by cars inching down back roads.

I will miss having a campfire. They aren’t allowed in the wilderness above a certain elevation. There is just something about a campfire that signals an outdoor experience. Whether it means cooking your meal over the open flames, roasting marshmallows or gathering ‘round to stay warm on a cold night — it’s what comes to mind each time a camping tale is told.

They remind me of the YMCA camp I often attended growing up. At least once a week the camp would build a huge, Lincoln-log kind of campfire. It roared and crackled as ghost stories and tales of pirates, Indians and pioneers unraveled from our camp leaders’ brains.

Then all of us, campers of all ages, would have to walk back to our cabins in what seemed like the black of night after surrounding the blinding, curling flames. We stumbled on exposed roots and jumped at the sound of a snapping twig in the trees beyond the trails. We nearly ran to the cabin door once it came into view.

Those were the days.

While there will be no campfire this weekend in the wilderness, there will likely be tales told and laughter shared.

We’re so lucky to live where we do, where outdoor adventures are right outside our door.

About

Kristen Czaban

Kristen Czaban joined The Sheridan Press staff in 2008 and covered beats including local government, cops and courts and the energy industry. In 2012, she was promoted and now serves as the managing editor for The Press. Czaban has a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

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