Into the Wind Rivers: Part 1

Granite Wonderland D.O.G.

Granite Wonderland D.O.G.

The Wind River range in west central Wyoming has long been one of my fantasy places. It seems like every time I see a stunning photograph in a magazine and wonder “where is that?!” it’s always the Winds.

The Photographer at Photographer's Point

The Photographer at Photographer’s Point

The Wind Rivers did not disappoint but the visit was somewhat bittersweet; I so longed to shoulder my backpack and disappear into those mountains for a few days, but my older dog Bowie just isn’t up to long hikes anymore. For his age, he’s in great health, excellent shape and high spirits. He has almost no grey and you’d never guess he’s 11 – he’s certainly not counting – but he’s slow and gets sore after a few miles and is easily dehydrated. At a burly 85 pounds, he’s 2/3 of my weight and I’d have a hell of a time evacuating him if he had some sort of geriatric crisis.

I so want to keep walking thataway!

I so want to keep hiking thataway!

Entering the Fitz Wilderness near Dubois

Entering the Fitzpatrick Wilderness

Wind Rivers Bouquet

Wind Rivers Bouquet

A beautiful cairn. Pink limestone and orange lichen

A beautiful cairn. Pink limestone and orange lichen

Trail marker on the way up Whiskey Peak

Trail marker on the way up Whiskey Peak

When I adopted Bowie ten years ago, the summer before my senior year of college, he was a yearling ball of manic energy and draining his bottomless reservoir is what got me into hiking and backpacking. In a decade of daily walks, Bowie and I have traveled thousands of miles together in 49 states (he missed out on Hawaii) and the thought of not having him panting at my heels is heart wrenching.

D.O.G. on the summit of Whiskey Peak- 11,157 feet

D.O.G. on the summit of Whiskey Peak- 11,157 feet

Tumbledown

Tumbledown

Ahh the Winds!

Ahh the Winds!

It’s hard watching him slow down, but I’m determined to give him a graceful retirement. He’s not up for long hikes, but he loves a good mosey where he can stay in the shade and wade in the water and follow his nose, usually towards something disgusting. At least once a day, he likes a thorough roll in long grass, something he’s enjoyed since his wild puppy days. After all these years, his antics still make me laugh and before he somersaults onto his back, he always checks to make sure I’m watching.

At Lake Louise

At Lake Louise

Tricky finding a route down to the water with all the steep granite walls!

Tricky finding a route down to the water with all the steep granite walls!

Nice Gneiss!

Nice Gneiss!

Bowie’s declining but I’m as strong as I’ve ever been and my mountain legs love a lot of miles. As does my 6 year old former wild dog Dio; we’re hiking junkies, he and I. Anything under five miles and 1,500 feet of elevation gain is a tease, a warm-up. So I’ve been leaving Bowie in his climate controlled, memory-foam equipped, rolling dog house while Dio and I set off on epic day hikes, powering through double-digit miles.

Torrey Creek.Only in Wyoming would this raging torrent be called a mere creek.

Torrey Creek.Only in Wyoming would this raging torrent be called a mere creek.

Self Portrait with Torrey Creek

Self Portrait with Torrey Creek

In three day-long hikes, we hiked nearly 30 miles in the Winds to Lake Louise and Whiskey Mountain from the Torrey Creek trailhead near Dubois and to Photographer’s Point from the Elkhart trailhead near Pinedale. All those miles and we barely scratched the surface of that glacially-carved granite wonderland. Oh well, there’s a time and place for everything. Someday, I’ll be back! Too many photos for one post. Stay tuned for part two from Photographer’s Point…

Granite Basin, Lake Louise

Granite Basin, Lake Louise

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in Big Sky, Montana. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
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18 Responses to Into the Wind Rivers: Part 1

  1. Lavinia Ross says:

    Beautiful country, Mary! Your photos and stories take me to places I may or may not get to see in this life, so I enjoy reading about them. Thank you for sharing.

    I love Dio’s story. Glad you found each other, and he came along with you and Bowie.

  2. Kim says:

    I know it’s hard to watch Bowie grow older. But you are doing the right thing. You are a good Mom.

  3. It’s always hard to watch a beloved dog grow old. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. But he’s had a great life with you.

    I’m trying to train my dog to be less “run wild in every direction” so we can take him on short hikes with us. It always feels weird not taking him when we go out into the wilderness.

    Now that you mention it, most of the gorgeous pictures I’ve seen are of the Wind River. Now I want to go even more.

    Do you think you will get another dog anytime soon?

  4. Love your pictures! If you get a chance to spend more time in the Winds you should check out the Cirque of the Towers, it’s absolutely breathtaking and a world-famous climbing spot. (It’s a pretty rough 10-ish mile hike though.)

  5. bonsai eejit says:

    Reblogged this on Bonsai Eejit and commented:
    One of my favourite blogs, great scenery, gnarly trees, happy dogs and adventure. What a way to live….

  6. mvschulze says:

    Beautiful pictures, inspiring place. Your bond with Bowie is so well portrayed. My 11 year old Shih Tzu is also showing some slowing, but remains right with me in love and spirit. A 5 mile hike in the Ramapos was common when she was younger, and I rarely had to show her the way back on the return, instead it would be she guiding me, always looking back for approval…Best friends forever. Love you blog, your life! Marty 🙂

  7. shedgepeth says:

    I always feel “naked,” hiking without both of my ruffs! I too, have an 11 yr. old and she is slowing down as well. It pains me to not take her, but know in the grand scheme in her quality of life it is better. Happy trails (and tails!) to you!

  8. Caitlin says:

    Your dogs are so lucky to have you as their mom. It hurts to watch them age, but they couldn’t have asked for a better life. The Wind River Range is incredibly beautiful and your photos really capture it. Someday I’ll make it down there but for right now I’m enthralled with the Bitterroot Mountains. So many hikes, so little time.

  9. hobopals says:

    I’m in the same boat. I can’t take Jack to remote areas any more. I’m letting him live out his time in comfort–he is my world, at this point. You are so fortunate to be young. I can no longer hike, either, and most likely never will, again. So, Jack is at my side as we live quiet lives. Thank goodness I have blogs like yours to read, remember, and wish, and take some of the sadness away.

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  11. The Boy Scouts in my neighborhood always went to the Wind River Mountains every other summer, usually on days-long backpacking or kayak trips. I *always* wished I had been able to go, damn Boy Scouts! Gorgeous photos!!

  12. cparrish says:

    The 100 mile long wind river range used to be my patrol as a wilderness forest ranger. On foot, 10 days at a time in roadless wilderness, it seems like a bittersweet dream, but it was so stunningly real.

  13. furrygnome says:

    Must be nice to be young yourself and rush through those ‘double digit’ hikes!!

  14. I’m in the same boat with my guy. He’s about a year older and last winter was hard on him (PNW coast, lots of rain, damp, and cold), and he lost a lot of his stamina. I’m working on getting it back so he can at least accompany me on some easy hikes this fall when it cools more. And like you, I’m determined to make his final years, however long it is, happy ones.

    Does Bowie make you feel guilty about leaving him behind or is he cool with it? My furball somehow knows the difference between errands and adventures (even if all I do is grab my keys) and gives me a wretched look of betrayal and hurt for the latter.

  15. Linda P. says:

    Our 11-year-old, 70-pound golden retriever did have a geriatric crisis two weeks ago, one that was his last. I can verify that it was hard enough getting him the few steps to the nearest door and out onto the grass three times a day, much less carrying him any further. You are doing what is right for Bowie. When we agree to be companions with our dogs, we accept the knowledge that their declines will come much sooner than we’re ready for them to come, and it hurts, but our lives would be so diminished without having shared them with these wonderful creatures. You’ve given him such a wonderful life, and you’ll give him the best retirement that he can have, too! Like hobopals, my mobility has suffered, too, and my trusty Trek mountain bike will soon go up for sale. I learned lessons from my dog about how to accept a change that came sooner than anticipated.

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