Well the Slatons can’t sit still for too long, so we’re packing up and getting ready for a backpacking adventure.
Pinedale, where we’ve been staying, is a great hub to take little side trips. It was just over an hour drive to the epic Green River Lakes. And it’s just a 20 minute drive to the Elkhart Lake trailhead that takes us deep into the Winds. From the trailhead we’ll hike 16 miles to Island Lake where we’ll set up base camp. Then we’ll spend a couple of days there taking day hikes into the Titcomb Basin and Indian Pass.
I cannot wait to see Andrew’s images from this hike. I know they’re going to be insane. It’s impossible to take a bad picture of the Wind River Mountain Range. Once we get above tree line, it’s just pretty much pure granite. Massive slabs of rock jutting up toward the sky. Really handsome mountains. And epic. Have I mentioned epic?
We’re spending today getting ready for our trip. We both have some good ole’ faithful packs that we’re organizing. Andrew carries the bulk of the weight, the tent, pots, butane fuel for cooking and other stuff. He carries all of this as well as his really heavy camera gear. I don’t know how he does it. He does have crazy strong legs.
I’m going to carry the bulk of the food: granola bars for breakfast, apples and peanut butter for lunch, snacking nuts, and salty chips as well as Annie’s Mac and Cheese for dinners. There are few things better after a long day of hiking then some salty, filling pasta and cheese. We keep our backpacking food at a minimal because we simply can’t carry that much weight. And every little bit adds up fast. Water is not an issue because there are plenty of rushing streams and rivers to fill up our Nalgenes with. To get water in the backcountry you just want to find a place where the water is flowing fast and not stagnant. We got iodine tablets to drop in the water to sanitize. Just one tablet per Nalgene and you’re good to go.
A couple of years ago I got some really fancy hiking boots and they have given me blisters on every hike without fail. When backpacking, one of the most important things to take care of is your feet. Once you get a blister it can seriously ruin the whole trip, where every step is painful. Since we’ve been on the road I’ve been hiking in my lightweight tennis shoes and it’s amazing. No blisters! No pain! I’m never going back to the heavy hiking boots. Which, it turns out is more of the trend lately. When we meet other backpackers on the trail, they’re all wearing tennis shoes. Cheaper, light weight and easy to replace. A good pair of hiking boots can cost up to $200, phew! so the tennis shoes are much easier to stomach cost wise.
We’ve been going for 8-13 mile hikes almost every day. I’ve never felt so physically prepared for a trip. On our past backpacking trips we’ve driven pretty fast up to the mountains and started hiking right away. We were crunched on time and wanted to fit a lot in our trips. This was kinda really hard on me because I wasn’t acclimated yet. And combine not acclimated with my thyroid issues and you have one hot mess of a lady. I would get so dizzy on the trails and barely had any energy. The vistas were always worth it in the end but it was really hard on my body.
Since we’ve been on the road, we were able to for the first time, take our time getting up to the mountains. This has made such a huge difference because it’s allowed my body time to get adjusted. This reminds me of one of my favorite things about the mountains, they’re wild! Untamable! And they will humble you low. Just when you start to get a little cocky, the altitude will hit you out of nowhere and literally take your breath away. And I prefer being able to breathe.
As you can imagine, when we’re deep in the mountains there is no cell reception. I love a break from social media but it does always kinda worry me a bit about emergencies. While hiking, Andrew and I always talk through different situations and what we would do if drama arises. You’re always a bit on edge deep in the mountains, the place where Grizzlies still roam, a phone call is hours and miles away and food is limited. There’s something wild and primitive about it. Which Andrew and I both love. I love that there are still protected places in the US where you can get away and tap into that on edge survival mode. It’s exhilarating.
I’ve talked in previous posts about city noise and how the rush and busyness can start to wear on me. I feel like every time I go backpacking or hiking or leave the grid it’s a reset for my brain. It brings every thing back to neutral and balance. It’s extremely refreshing. And once you start doing it, it’s addictive. Where all you think about are those winding trails through the aspens and up to the mountain lakes.
We leave early tomorrow morning and will be back in five days. So happy trails and see you on the other side of the mountain!