Facing reality has proven difficult this week. I came back from an annual backpacking trip with a group of friends on Aug. 3 and quickly returned to the day-to-day grind of work and life.
Right away, I and my three fellow outdoor adventurers were wishing we could escape back to the relative simplicity of hiking through the wilderness with 50-pound packs on our backs.
We covered some ground — about 35 miles in five days. We made our way up to the Little Goose trailhead the morning of July 30 and embarked onto the trail around lunchtime. For those who backpack — or at least backpack like we do — the first few miles are always brutal. You have to get used to the weight on your back, the elevation and the hiking boots you’ve probably only put on a couple of other times that year. I usually hike in my trail running shoes for short treks, but backpacking requires a little more support and durability. No surprise, my feet did not enjoy the change of environment very much.
We started off by hiking into Highland Park. Two of us had not been there before. The view as you make your way to the top of the hill overlooking the meadow makes the hills you just traversed well worth the effort. We camped there for the night before continuing on Tuesday toward Beaver Lakes. We spoiled ourselves Tuesday night, sleeping on cots and roasting marshmallows over a bonfire.
We also stuck our feet in the creek while we lounged in camp chairs reading different books written by Elizabeth Gilbert. All three of my hiking pals are on the FAB Women’s Conference committee, and the photoshoot that ensued was picturesque and perfect. What better place to experience and be inspired by “Big Magic” than the wilderness of the Bighorn Mountains. We talked about the upcoming event, and each time it came up we all got excited to see what the next few months will hold.
From Beaver Lakes, Wednesday, we hiked toward the base of Black Tooth Mountain. We climbed along boulders next to Kearney Lake Reservoir and made it almost to our camping spot before the rain started. Luckily, it didn’t last long. We set up tents while enjoying the view of Princess Falls (which apparently some also call Sawtooth Falls). We ran into our first fellow travelers (not including some family we knew would be at the base of Black Tooth). They came to Wyoming from Iowa and Minnesota. There were five in the group. In total, we only saw about eight people on the entire eight-day trek.
From the base of Black Tooth, we made our way back toward Highland Park on Thursday. We took a detour to Spear Lake, though. Two of the women in our group did some fishing — for a while catching a fish with nearly every cast. While the fish weren’t huge, the fishing adventure was entertaining to watch from the shore. We made it back to Highland Park just in time for dinner and to set up camp.
Shortly after we climbed into our tents the wind whipped up, making me and my tent mate think we were going to blow across the mountain. Neither of us slept much, but at least the tent withstood the test.
Finally, Friday, we hiked out via Bighorn Reservoir, where a car was waiting for us to drive down the mountain. Oh what a trip it was.
The first week back in reality has been tough. I keep looking up to the peaks lining the western skyline, wishing I could again escape the emails (I had more than 500 unread emails when we got home).
With temperatures expected to hover around 100 Saturday, the mountains are once again calling — if for no other reason than to escape the heat.