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SHERIDAN — As a child, he was a curious lad who asked too many questions — a self-described pain in the neck. Time and again, annoyed adults gave him the same advice: Take a hike.
He heard the phrase so often, he figured it must be a good idea and started hitting the trail around age 4. Douglas Lorain has been taking a hike ever since, logging more than 32,000 miles in western North America and authoring 10 hiking guidebooks along the way.
Approximately 4,000 of those 32,000 miles have been in Wyoming, Lorain said. While in the Cowboy State, he wrote “Backpacking Wyoming,” a dog-eared treatise referenced by countless wilderness wanderers.
As the summer hiking season begins, the Wyoming Wilderness Association has invited Lorain to conduct a statewide tour — Kicking off the Hiking Season — featuring workshops and hikes with Lorain. The tour will begin in Sheridan with a presentation from 5-7 p.m. Friday at Solitude Clothing and Mountaineering, 38 South Main St. Saturday will feature a six-mile round trip hike in the Rock Creek recommended wilderness between Sheridan and Buffalo.
According to Carolyn Schroth, associate director of programs for WWA, the hike will include plenty of wildflower viewing and a trek to the area burned by the Gilead fire last summer.
It is three miles of uphill climbing and is described as difficult.
The Rock Creek recommended wilderness comprises 34,000 acres of land in the Bighorn National Forest that was originally part of the allocation for the Cloud Peak Wilderness in the Wyoming Wildlands Act of 1984 but was left out of the final designation. The Forest Service recommended the area for wilderness protection in its forest plan in 2005, and efforts continue to urge Congress to designate Rock Creek as part of the Cloud Peak Wilderness, according to Schroth.
Lorain’s tour will continue through June 8 with presentations and excursions in Casper, Lander, Cody and Jackson. The Wyoming Wilderness Association is offering 18 total outings this summer around the state, with several in the Bighorn National Forest for a variety of hiking levels and interests, Schroth said. Outings include opportunities for families, flower enthusiasts and painters.
“We host an outing program every summer,” Schroth said. “It’s our way of bringing people into places that we feel are priorities for our attention and efforts for protection. We focus on diverse offerings both in the places that we go to and in the themes for the various hikes.”
Lorain said he has not hiked in the Rock Creek recommended wilderness before, and he is looking forward to traversing new territory in one of his most beloved hiking destinations.
“The Bighorns are the first real mountains that you get to when coming from the east,” Lorain said. “Tall cliffs, snow fields, lakes, everything that you could want in a mountain range is there. They have the best high elevation canyons of anywhere I’ve ever hiked. The Bighorns offer a jaw dropping, classic western mountain experience.”
Lorain’s presentation Friday will outline his “Backpacking Wyoming” book and highlight the best places, in his opinion, for mid-range backpacking trips around the state, particularly noting less traveled trails. (Just a tip: Three out-of-the-norm areas in the Bighorns that Lorain recommends are Emerald Lake in the north, Lake Angeline in the east and Cliff Lake in the northwest region of the range.)
Lorain will also share stories — giardia and grizzlies in Wyoming — and practical hiking tips like this: “One of the most important things that people forget when they’re packing for a trip is common sense. It doesn’t weigh anything, but people find it too heavy to bring.”
For more information about the hiking tour and the Wyoming Wilderness Association, call 672-2751 or visit www.wildwyo.org.
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