Thursday, July 4, 2013
Into the Wild.
This morning I took down my tent and left the rustic campground where I had been staying. Earlier in the week I had followed a dirt road into the Wind River Wilderness of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. This route followed the rushing, and sometimes slow, meandering Green River to its source, a large emerald-colored lake. On a bluff overlooking the water, the Forest Service established a site for backpackers and outdoors enthusiasts to overnight. I chose a site in it which came equipped with a special metal box in which to securely place a cooler. This apparatus is necessary to discourage eager-food-sniffing grizzly bears from joining the party. Shortly after arriving as dusk was falling, I examined the lake. It lay nestled beneath groves of pines and firs, verdant meadows of wildflowers and huge towering basalt peaks, which were still streaked with snow. Like a speck in a serene ever-changing kaleidiescope of reflected color, I placed myself on its water in my pontoon boat and fished for wild rainbow and German brown trout.
The following day I decided to venture out alone on an extended day hike to a remote spot in the back country, to a place where a large feeder stream had chiseled its way through a large rocky outcropping to create a natural bridge. The "moderate in difficulty" trail crisscrossed so many different environments, including spots where I had to wade across crystal clear streams to continue my way. I walked over 12 miles through the most pastoral countryside I had ever hiked and returned completely pooped. I thought often of my son Adam who had given me a quality backpack for my birthday and heard his admonishments to drink lots of water from its built-in pouch. Also I heard the approving voice of my friend Bill, the relentless backpacker, whose example encouraged me onward, and would have approved of my performance. Most of all, I listened to my inner voice of determination, along with all the sounds of birds, wind, rushing or gurgling waters. I wanted to achieve this at my age. This was my time.
Now I am back in civilization in Jackson, a thriving tourist resort on steroids. I am back from what may be the apex of this adventure and I feel joyful. Yet new challenges lie ahead. I need to buy supplies and find a place to stay tonight. It is 4th of July weekend and camping grounds are full. It is time for me to move on, test my fate, and continue to celebrate my independence.