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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…