I spend much of my life online, something I once reveled in, but have always sought to balance by disconnecting and going outdoors. This year, 2018, I made the longest solo backpack trip I’ve managed since Ann sagged me on the Continental Divide Trail in 2004. On that trip my longest stretch between resupplies was eight days, an experience that transformed me mentally and physically in ways I never anticipated. Last August I wondered what I was in for this time when Ann dropped me off near Cove, Oregon for six days on my own in the Willowa range. There were much different questions in my head on this trip. How would my mind handle being offline? Does time alone in the mountains always heal and refresh, and how does that happen when it does? I took a notebook to record any answers that might come to me. Here are the pages from that notebook and some pictures from the trip.
I try climbing at Mores Mountain, then head for Ann’s parents house in Nampa.
We contemplate the reasons good visits can wear us down, and climb a few fun routes outside Lander, Wyoming.
Don’t get worried if there’s a delay in posts after this, the next phase will take me far from the internets.
I describe Vedauwoo slab climbing, piece a fine muddy trail loop together, and ponder the mosquito season.
We are among the creatures who emerge to play today before we drive down the hill for a quick freshener.
Having completed our backpack trip we join Ann’s parents at the Thomas canyon campground. We rest during a day of rain storms that leave the peaks dusted with snow and temperatures noticeably cooler, then make a day of joining two rugged canyons over a fantastically rocky pass.
Our last segment is less grandiose than prior days, but intimate and full of small surprises. On our first ridge we meet a party of northbound hikers from Reno who agree to let us take the vehicle they left at Harrison pass back to Lamoille canyon for them. Return trip problem solved! Here and there a spring appears among the aspen, rock formations sprout from hillsides, and fresh rain showers blow through.
Most of the day is spent traversing the magnificent, rocky Overland creek basin. Water sources appear, as well as bright autumn aspen.
We soon encounter the 12-mile waterless segment of the trail along the crest. Ann gets footsore before it ends, but we have enough water to stop for the night. Mountain goats, soaring hawks, and the smell of sweet anise all grace the day.
At last! Ann and I head out for our first full week off in two years. Our destination has been tempting us for years: the Ruby mountains. We get on the road early so we can get a few miles of hiking in before nightfall. Most people hike this trail northbound, but we’re bucking the trend. We’re not even sure whether Ann’s parents will be able to pick us up at the other end. Some cell phone signal or trail fortune will be needed to get us back to our truck in four days.