Lost in the Winds

by Harriet Greene

 

Howie WolkeWind River Range, Bridger Wilderness, Pinedale, Wyoming: 
The West was drier than it had been in years. Two nearby fires were almost under control. Elkhart Park was closed as well as the south entrance to Yellowstone, nowhere near our direction. After thirteen hours on the road we arrived at our friend’s home in Jackson Hole where we would spend the night. Our gear was unloaded, our food figured out, our backpacks packed and our age-old list, checked off, making sure everything was in order for an early departure in the morning.
 
In Hoback Canyon, ten miles south of Jackson, fire-fighting camps lined the highway  and heavy smoke obscured the landscape. As the haze cleared, two sandhill cranes materialized in a meadow and watched us drive by, unconcerned at all the activity around them. 
 
The day was clear, warm and slightly windy when my daughter parked the car in a meadow where cows and their calves watched as the two of us started hiking up the ridge on an unmarked trail until it disappeared; making our way through an old burn, a stop for a snack on a deadfall pine before picking up the path only to lose it again. The going was extremely difficult, climbing over fallen trees and struggling through underbrush, balancing our heavy packs, getting very tired and dejected because the trail couldn’t be found. The two of us pressed on until hours later we arrived at our destination, Lake Jacqueline. Roanne found a beautiful spot ringed with trees, already in shadow. It took minutes for our tent to go up, then much longer to hang our heavy bags of food. My university physics came in handy as I moved up the hill, so the angle wasn’t so acute, and while she held the bag and gave it a final heave, I pulled it up.
 
It was twilight when she heated water for tea after devouring the leftovers from lunch. Our sleeping bags warmed our chilled bodies as we stretched out, thankful to be where we were. My shoulders were sore, my calves scratched raw, and tender hip bones kept me on my back while I experienced a condition well beyond exhaustion. Roanne fell asleep while I listened to the sounds of the wilderness.
 
Suddenly, a far-off rumbling shattered the serenity. I lay still and listened. There it was, a bit closer. It wasn’t long before lightning lit up the tent and the first drops sizzled on our rainfly. Thunder ripped the air, crackled, groaned and boomed overhead while lightning never let up. It rained for about a half-hour, welcoming us back to the Winds and outdoor life.
 
The days passed slowly. On day six at 10:28 a.m. the first jet broke the sound barrier as the two of us roamed over smooth, amoebic rocks around the lower lakes of vast, barren, rocky, wild, 10,840-foot Bald Mountain Basin. The skies were busy thoroughfares as the jets continued hauling humans to and fro across the continent. Oblivious to the momentum of the multitudes outside these wilderness walls, I was amazed one could climb into the backcountry and stop time, or slow it down enough to enjoy the minutes and hours that made up a day.
 
As I sat sketching the fire pit along the trail, the creek sang behind me, the birds called in the trees, the clouds sailed overhead, the sun shone intermittently, the wind changed direction, and the jets continued. Fourteen planes so far. This was jet-counting day, confusing the illusion of where I was; six more jets over dinner, three as our dishes were washed, and two more while doing yoga as the sun sank, leaving the Angel’s wings straddling 11,600-foot Angel Pass etched against a slate sky. A slight smell of smoke drifted south from a fire that had started a few days ago at Green River Lakes. While in our sleeping bags playing gin rummy, four more jets passed. 
 
Having been outside for eight days, I felt weathered - parched, burnt, strong, vibrant. I didn’t experience my usual early morning stiffness and wondered if it was the yoga, my diet, or the vigorous outdoor living that kept my blood pumping at a difference pace, feeding the tissues and cleansing the toxic elements of a sedentary life.
 
The first vaporous contrail appeared over Angel Pass and moments later the thunder of the jet’s engines could be heard. Living from moment to moment, aware of changes in weather, the need for clean water, warm food, warm clothing, the ability to alter well thought out plans, made for a full-time occupation. Here the hours pass more slowly - doing nothing but strolling amidst the rocks and lakes of a ridged landscape, reading in a warm tent, or drifting off into another dimension with a back-drop of chirping birds, a flutter of wings, a distant call of a hawk, the whisper of the wind around a canyon wall or the rainfly - all these pleasures reminded me that life was wonderful, that rest and relaxation were vital, and that simply keeping busy wasted our lives in accomplishing nothing of importance. Our reason for existence is all too often over-looked for a false sense of security promised by societal demands for accomplishment and the accumulation of things. We need so little and acquire so much and in the process miss the wonders of the natural world; the birds actually make music, the wind soothed a troubled brow, the sun warmed us, the moon moved our emotions, and the mountains’ massive presence provided security which we strove for all our lives. Nature provides all if you’re willing to take a risk.

 

Bridger-Teton Wilderness


Harriet Greene, graduate of McGill University in physiotherapy, moved to the US in 1970; hiked the Long Trail in the Green Mountains of Vermont and Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire; a trip West convinced her to move to the Rockies where she fell in love with the Grand Tetons and Wind River Range. She found a small log cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and settled in for twenty years. As an avid hiker, backpacker, author, stone sculptor and marble stonecut printmaker, she feels most comfortable in the alpine with a backpack, lost in some deep remote canyon with her youngest daughter. She has published six books, her latest, “Crossing the Boundary: A Return to the Wilderness and Freedom.”

%MCEPASTEBIN%
Ending La Luz run safeguards wilderness
 

Comments 48

Guest - Linny Rhine on Thursday, 22 July 2021 09:48

Harriett,
Thank you for your beautiful reminder how important it is to experience the wonder of our natural world and forgo our materialistic stuff which only give us temporary and fleeting comfort. I applaud you for taking the risk to enjoy the wonders of the wilderness and it's an inspiration for me to do the same.

Harriett, Thank you for your beautiful reminder how important it is to experience the wonder of our natural world and forgo our materialistic stuff which only give us temporary and fleeting comfort. I applaud you for taking the risk to enjoy the wonders of the wilderness and it's an inspiration for me to do the same.
Guest - Harriet Greene on Thursday, 22 July 2021 12:36

Hi Linny Rhine,
Thank you for your comment. I do love hearing from people who feel that wilderness is so necessary in our lives.

Harriet

Hi Linny Rhine, Thank you for your comment. I do love hearing from people who feel that wilderness is so necessary in our lives. Harriet
Guest - Roanne on Monday, 19 July 2021 19:44

I am reminded of the distillation of a moment, in this article. To hear the voice of another's experience navigate her/his soul in the wild, is about as close as it gets to connection with each other. And in that recognition is kinship. And in that kinship is a desire to go deeper and be who we truly want to be.
The wilds do that. Being out there untethered, without "stuff", eating little, moving a lot, exposed to the elements, to natural beauty, to our own thoughts and then to the dismissal of everything except the sound of our own breath getting up the next hill . . . it is luck and determination to pack the pack and get out of the house and into the hills. And then to write about it so I feel the detachment of society and the embrace of nature, is yet another step. Thank you Harriet for letting me in to the beauty.

I am reminded of the distillation of a moment, in this article. To hear the voice of another's experience navigate her/his soul in the wild, is about as close as it gets to connection with each other. And in that recognition is kinship. And in that kinship is a desire to go deeper and be who we truly want to be. The wilds do that. Being out there untethered, without "stuff", eating little, moving a lot, exposed to the elements, to natural beauty, to our own thoughts and then to the dismissal of everything except the sound of our own breath getting up the next hill . . . it is luck and determination to pack the pack and get out of the house and into the hills. And then to write about it so I feel the detachment of society and the embrace of nature, is yet another step. Thank you Harriet for letting me in to the beauty.
Guest - Harriet Greene on Wednesday, 21 July 2021 21:50

Hi Roanne,
Thank you for your comment. I love to hear somebody talk about wilderness. Especially so soon after a backpack trip into the mountains of northern California and hiking 136 miles in 10 days.

Harriet

Hi Roanne, Thank you for your comment. I love to hear somebody talk about wilderness. Especially so soon after a backpack trip into the mountains of northern California and hiking 136 miles in 10 days. Harriet
Guest - Beverly Minn on Monday, 19 July 2021 12:57

Glad I saved this Wilderness Watch email! Quite a thought provoking read. Thanks. Now I have to read your book.

Glad I saved this Wilderness Watch email! Quite a thought provoking read:). Thanks. Now I have to read your book:).
Guest - Harriet Greene on Wednesday, 21 July 2021 21:46

Hi Beverly Minn,
Thank you for your comment. If you do read my book I would love to hear from you.

Harriet

Hi Beverly Minn, Thank you for your comment. If you do read my book I would love to hear from you. Harriet
Guest - Beverly Minn on Thursday, 22 July 2021 08:58

Okay! BTW, where do you live in OR? I'm in Bandon.

Okay! BTW, where do you live in OR? I'm in Bandon.
Guest - Harriet Greene on Friday, 23 July 2021 17:50

I live in Talent. Between Ashland and Medford.

I live in Talent. Between Ashland and Medford.
Guest - jerry rosen on Sunday, 18 July 2021 18:41

With my sincere thanks...always>>>

FOR A KIND, SAFE, HEALTHY and J U S T WORLD>>>
EACH and EVERY ONE OF US...is RESPONSIBLE>>>
The most DESTRUCTIVE force of nature is...HUMAN NATURE...because it can choose>>>
WIthout REVERENCE for ALL LIFE and ALL THAT GIVES LIFE there can be no PEACE...only pain, suffering, misery, fear and death>>>
OUR M O R A L progress has always depended on and will be judged by how WE treat ALL LIFE and ALL THAT GIVES LIFE...TRAGICALLY...WE HAVEN'T PROGRESSED...yet>>>

With my sincere thanks...always>>> FOR A KIND, SAFE, HEALTHY and J U S T WORLD>>> EACH and EVERY ONE OF US...is RESPONSIBLE>>> The most DESTRUCTIVE force of nature is...HUMAN NATURE...because it can choose>>> WIthout REVERENCE for ALL LIFE and ALL THAT GIVES LIFE there can be no PEACE...only pain, suffering, misery, fear and death>>> OUR M O R A L progress has always depended on and will be judged by how WE treat ALL LIFE and ALL THAT GIVES LIFE...TRAGICALLY...WE HAVEN'T PROGRESSED...yet>>>
Guest - Harriet Greene on Wednesday, 21 July 2021 21:45

Hi Jerry Rosen,
Thank you for your comment.

Harriet

Hi Jerry Rosen, Thank you for your comment. Harriet
Guest - Steve Hylton on Friday, 16 July 2021 20:41

Harriet great article, the jets, they all must have been flying low to get your attention not good in wilderness you must have been under a flight path. By the way I would love to read your books

Harriet great article, the jets, they all must have been flying low to get your attention not good in wilderness you must have been under a flight path. By the way I would love to read your books
Guest - Harriet Greene on Wednesday, 21 July 2021 21:36

Hi Steve Hylton,
Thank you for your comment. The jets weren't actually flying low, nor were they on the same flight path. It was very disturbing.
If you do happen to read my book I would love to hear from you.

Harriet

Hi Steve Hylton, Thank you for your comment. The jets weren't actually flying low, nor were they on the same flight path. It was very disturbing. If you do happen to read my book I would love to hear from you. Harriet
Guest - gregory battaglia on Friday, 16 July 2021 11:33

"....... the birds actually make music, the wind soothed a troubled brow, the sun warmed us, the moon moved our emotions......... Nature provides all if you’re willing to take a risk. Many here might find it odd that a lifer from bustling overpopulated Long Island could ever feel this close to the non-human aspects of living. But two days ago, I sunk all of my knowledge and persuasiveness as a municipal planner into an appeal to convince the Oyster Bay Town Board to call on Jeff Bezos' reps-if not Bezos directly-to downsize yet another massive depot on Long Island, this time paving over 50+ acres. Naturally, I lost.

Not many years from now I will retire and if my health is still intact hopefully exit this overpriced co-op on this now miserable Island. But if I fail to buy or build my retirement home upstate, Plan B is one of the western states, most of which have long thrilled me with their vast expanses of natural beauty. Since my one time out there in a Denver asthmatic research hospital as a boy for 13 months, much of that has changed radically and with it huge drops in affordability in the booming economies of CO, UT, ID, NV, Northern AZ, et al. Worst of all, is my endless fear of wildfires which now thanks to 8.8 billion human-driven climate change more than doubles the risk almost anywhere west of AK and the Dakotas. I guess I just don't have the courage of people like Harriet. And yes, I really do live for my stuff; BIG home theater enthusiast. So I watch reruns of Longmire and Robert Redford produced Tony Hillerman movies.

Though the lava fields of Los Lunas, NM does reflect the usually lower force earthquakes that happen every several years within ~ 50 miles of that town, LL sits in what’s called the Albuquerque basin-putting it quite far from fire prone tree lined mountains. Could this be my place?

[i]"....... the birds actually make music, the wind soothed a troubled brow, the sun warmed us, the moon moved our emotions......... Nature provides all if you’re willing to take a risk.[/i] Many here might find it odd that a lifer from bustling overpopulated Long Island could ever feel this close to the non-human aspects of living. But two days ago, I sunk all of my knowledge and persuasiveness as a municipal planner into an appeal to convince the Oyster Bay Town Board to call on Jeff Bezos' reps-if not Bezos directly-to downsize yet another massive depot on Long Island, this time paving over 50+ acres. Naturally, I lost. Not many years from now I will retire and if my health is still intact hopefully exit this overpriced co-op on this now miserable Island. But if I fail to buy or build my retirement home upstate, Plan B is one of the western states, most of which have long thrilled me with their vast expanses of natural beauty. Since my one time out there in a Denver asthmatic research hospital as a boy for 13 months, much of that has changed radically and with it huge drops in affordability in the booming economies of CO, UT, ID, NV, Northern AZ, et al. Worst of all, is my endless fear of wildfires which now thanks to 8.8 billion human-driven climate change more than doubles the risk almost anywhere west of AK and the Dakotas. I guess I just don't have the courage of people like Harriet. And yes, I really do live for my stuff; BIG home theater enthusiast. So I watch reruns of Longmire and Robert Redford produced Tony Hillerman movies. Though the lava fields of Los Lunas, NM does reflect the usually lower force earthquakes that happen every several years within ~ 50 miles of that town, LL sits in what’s called the Albuquerque basin-putting it quite far from fire prone tree lined mountains. Could this be my place?
Guest - Harriet Greene on Saturday, 17 July 2021 15:05

Hi Gregory Battaglia,
Thank you for your comment. I lived in the great state of NM for about 10 years not so long ago. The light is remarkable, the mixed cultures, a relief, and the grand landscapes, outstanding. I too live for my stuff - the wilderness! And film! My husband Marty is a film director, has written and produced his own independent movies. Film is such an important part of our lives.
Why not take a trip to LL and see how you feel? You'll know immediately if this is your place!

Harriet

Hi Gregory Battaglia, Thank you for your comment. I lived in the great state of NM for about 10 years not so long ago. The light is remarkable, the mixed cultures, a relief, and the grand landscapes, outstanding. I too live for my stuff - the wilderness! And film! My husband Marty is a film director, has written and produced his own independent movies. Film is such an important part of our lives. Why not take a trip to LL and see how you feel? You'll know immediately if this is your place! Harriet
Guest - Deborah Williamsoon on Friday, 16 July 2021 06:57

Wonderful read! Thanks so much for the much needed respite from the 40 hour work week.

Wonderful read! Thanks so much for the much needed respite from the 40 hour work week.
Guest - Harriet Greene on Friday, 16 July 2021 22:34

Hi Deborah Williamsoon,
Thank you for your comment.

Harriet

Hi Deborah Williamsoon, Thank you for your comment. Harriet
Guest - Thomas H Small on Thursday, 15 July 2021 18:44

I have read this truly beautiful post about Wind River Range, Bridger Wilderness, Pinedale , Wyoming
from what I have seen on the photos, it looks like truly beautiful country up there in the Rocky mountains.

I have read this truly beautiful post about Wind River Range, Bridger Wilderness, Pinedale , Wyoming from what I have seen on the photos, it looks like truly beautiful country up there in the Rocky mountains.
Guest - Harriet Greene on Friday, 16 July 2021 22:32

Hi Thomas H Small,
It is truly beautiful and would take your breath away. A must visit.

Harriet

Hi Thomas H Small, It is truly beautiful and would take your breath away. A must visit. Harriet
Guest - Denis Tidrick on Thursday, 15 July 2021 18:07

I spend time outdoors. I particularly like the Ozarks (Arkansas and Missouri) and Big Bend in Texas. I also like scuba diving or snorkeling in the Gulf of Mexico. Age and COVID-19 are now the limiting factors. Go out, engage, and enjoy!

I spend time outdoors. I particularly like the Ozarks (Arkansas and Missouri) and Big Bend in Texas. I also like scuba diving or snorkeling in the Gulf of Mexico. Age and COVID-19 are now the limiting factors. Go out, engage, and enjoy!
Guest - Harriet Greene on Friday, 16 July 2021 22:29

Hi Denis Tidrick,
Thank you for your comment. I agree.

Harriet

Hi Denis Tidrick, Thank you for your comment. I agree. Harriet
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Tuesday, 27 July 2021

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://wildernesswatch.org/

Contact Us

Wilderness Watch
P.O. Box 9175
Missoula, MT 59807
P: 406-542-2048
E: wild@wildernesswatch.org

Minneapolis, MN Office
2833 43rd Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406

P: 612-201-9266

Moscow, ID Office
P.O. Box 9765
Moscow, ID 83843

Stay Connected

flogo RGB HEX 512   Twitter Logo gold   Insta gold

Search

Go to top