GET OUT: Wind River Roving

By on August 23, 2016

Why some prefer a slower pace in the mountains.

A post-rainstorm sunset in the Winds makes it easier to tolerate drenched bodies and gear. (Photo: Ben Blanton)

A post-rainstorm sunset in the Winds makes it easier to tolerate drenched bodies and gear. (Photo: Ben Blanton)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – An ongoing debate has been occurring since the dawn of movement in the mountains. The early European settlers began their mountain treks out West with a plethora of goods, sometimes mules and a heart for adventure. Now, people conquer the Grand Teton in less than three hours, a feat that took the European explorers a few days. In recent years, I’ve found myself in the middle of this deliberation. What’s better? Fast and light, or long and bountiful?

The perfect moment for comparison arrived during a four-day backpacking trip in the Wind River Range. When I mentioned this plan to a friend, he informed me he was planning to run the route in a day. Thus, the note taking began of our two different experiences.

My plan consisted of a venture to Titcomb Basin with some technical climbs in mind. It would also serve as a much-needed escape from the bustle of cars and random humans running into the streets of downtown Jackson.

Following the chaos of my work week, I slept in, packed up in the morning and headed to the store. I purchased avocados, spices, good meat and ample fruits before scurrying along to the Elkhart Park trailhead.

160824GetOut-3_origA dear friend joined me in this little mission, but we entered the black hole between Jackson and Pinedale and didn’t begin walking until around 2 p.m. With heavy packs and snacks to share, we waddled ropes and gear toward Titcomb Basin. This 15-mile approach seemingly lengthened with each stomp, but felt slightly enjoyable after our sore shoulders began to ignore the weight.

We stopped to fish in a random lake on the way, and I felt as though I was in a children’s bounce castle when I took my pack off and walked around the high alpine meadow. In perfect synchronicity, a storm engulfed us just as thoughts of not wanting to walk any farther seeped into my mind. We had no choice but to set up camp and eat some fish.

Unfortunately the rain came faster than expected, but a campfire served to dry out the remains of our socks and wet clothing. The sky showed itself the next morning, and we continued on to the Basin with saturated packs and lots of appreciation for the sun. Although we did some climbing, this seemingly pointless pastime was enjoyable only for the notably cold morning and vast views of the peaks.

A striking sunset marked the end of a fulfilling day alongside the ultimate basecamp at Titcomb. The feast we cooked made the hefty approach worth the effort.

Now let’s revisit my runner friend who did the entire mission, without the climbing part, in one day. A 3 a.m. start with Gu and protein bars in tow, this mountain sprinter enjoyed an incredible workout, some quick Instagram shots, and a nice little truck with all the amenities for camping.

I’ve never attempted the mountain sprint, but I’m sure afterwards it makes a comfortable bed and margaritas feel well deserved. The runner man’s feat exudes awesomeness and appreciation for the human body, but I still don’t know if I’m into it. Maybe it’s because I’m not in extreme Jackson shape, or maybe my brain doesn’t have the desire to look at scenery that quickly. My existence depends on basking in good food, relaxing and soaking up the mountains; these things may never change.

Perhaps that’s the inherent reason why our predecessors decided to conquer the mountains in days, not hours. PJH

About Elizabeth Koutrelakos

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