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Monday, May 16, 2022

Weekly Post, High and Wild: Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers (#101+)

High and Wild: Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers
by Robert Glenn Ketchum




After receiving my MFA from CalArts, I was invited by Bill Lund, Sharon Disney’s husband, to come stay at the families' Diamond-D Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming. Bill thought I might like to photograph in the nearby Wind River Mountains, which I did, backpacking through them extensively over the next three summers. Welcome to a world of big granite walls and huge alpine lakes!
~Robert Glenn Ketchum




Monday, May 16, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #248 
Wind Rivers, #248:  
After a brief swim session, the afternoon is getting on, so it is time to head down to Black Joe Lake and traverse the far side. We are still 6-miles from camp, but no one seems the worse for wear, and the youngest of us, the two girls, seem to have been invigorated by the cold water, so they lead the pack. The far side of the lake has a very navigable trail, so there will be no arduous bouldering until the climb over the dome at the very end. It should be a relatively pleasant late afternoon hike.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, May 9, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #247 
Wind Rivers, #247:  
With the end of Black Joe Lake in sight and only about 1/2-mile away, the heat of the day is quite noticeable, and when we stop once again for water, the girls (including mom) decide to get naked, and go for a swim. The men are having none of it, but I have to say that at 10,400ft. it was quite amusing to have little naked girls scampering around in the meadows, and splashing in the creek. Of course, LiLi joined the girls, as a lab will use any excuse to get wet on a hot day.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, May 2, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #246 
Wind Rivers, #246:  
At the far end of Black Joe Lake, it is fed by Black Joe Creek, which descends from a basin that hosts several small unnamed lakes that are covered with a good deal of ice most of the year, because they are situated in the shadow of East Temple peak and spire. After our troop traversed the near side of Black Joe Lake, beneath the sheer walls of Haystack Mountain, we followed the creek up into the high basin of small lakes. In this shot everybody has stopped for water, and some snacks, and Talja is snuggling with LiLi, as East Temple Peak and spire loom above us. We are on our way down, and as we descend along the creek, the heat of the day is upon us, and it is surprisingly hot for being at this altitude.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, April 25, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #245 
Wind Rivers, #245:  
After our day of independent adventuring with our individual family members, everyone arrived back in camp around dinnertime. Our guide/camp cook had a nice fire going, and was busy preparing our meal, so everyone settled into their sling chairs, including LiLi, and cozied up to the fire. Grant and Travis look pretty chill here. It is going to be an early evening tonight because we have a 16-mile trek planned for tomorrow, and we will spend the entire day circumnavigating Black Joe Lake, which lies just over the dome behind our camp.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, April 18, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #244 
Wind Rivers, #244:  
About 1/2 the way down the waterfall staircase from Deep Lake, we came upon a large pool where LiLi spotted some fish, so naturally she jumped and began to chase them around. The kids found that amusing so they joined her as well. In this shot, Talja has finally come out because the water is REALLY cold, and she is just having a little camera attitude.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
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Monday, April 11, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #243 
Wind Rivers, #243:  
The day after our adventure on Haystack Mountain, we collectively decided that each family would separate and spend time alone with our kids. Mine wanted to scramble up the waterfall coming down from Deep Lake, and wander around in the gardens on the dome between Deep and Temple Lake. It was not windy this day, and was actually quite warm in the sun. We had a lazy, leisurely lunch, and in the mid-afternoon began to head back for our camp at Clear Lake. I took this shot as we were preparing to descend, and it is worth noting that my kids did bring their hiking boots, but neither chose to wear them. Travis did the entire hike in his sandals, and Talja is wearing her Keen (@Keen) water shoes.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
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Monday, April 4, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #242 
Wind Rivers, #242:  
As we get higher up on the shoulder of Haystack Mountain, the wind gets wilder and wilder. It was actually blowing us around, and howling loudly enough that it was hard to hear each other speak. Talja’s friend was so frightened by it, she began to cry so her mother took she and Grant down to a lower elevation where there was some tree protection. Talja was having none of it, however, and she forged ahead. In fact she is above Travis, and out-of-sight behind a roll in the granite dome. I had pointed out that crack to the left of Travis, and told her that it led to the summit as a free climb, no rope was needed, so of course that is exactly where she is headed. The crack is huge, and once she got inside it, she was protected from the wind, so she climbed 1/2-way up it before I called to her to come back down. She is clearly the bravest of this bunch, neither Travis, nor I, even climbed to the base of the crack.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
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Monday, March 28, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #241 
Wind Rivers, #241:  
We had planned that the day following our walk around the Deep Lake-Temple Lake Basin, would cover less miles and stay closer to home. Sometime during the night, a fierce windstorm blew up on us, and sent the tents flapping. It was not raining, but the wind was streaming through in screaming gusts. It was kind of cool (no pun) as you could hear the gusts coming in, sweeping across the forest around us, eventually blowing through our camp. In the morning, breakfast was a layered-clothing affair as the windstorm continued. For the day's adventure, and because we needed to move around to stay warm, I suggested that we ascend the nearby ridge of Haystack Mountain, easily reachable, and directly behind our campsite. The approach led us through a brief section of trees, and then we emerged on a granite spine covered with boulders, and tundra meadows. It also FULLY exposed us to the wind. The higher we climbed, the wilder it got. Talja and Travis were fearless, even though some of the gusts literally pushed us around. I took this shot about halfway to where we topped out, and Talja took the moment to assure me that we were going all the way.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, March 21, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #240 
Wind Rivers, #240:  
Here is another girl who also has been having fun all day, and now Lili has climbed into “her” chair next to the fire, and she is doing a solo snuggly (although, there is a lot of random petting every time someone passes by her.)

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
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Monday, March 14, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #239 
Wind Rivers, #239:  
After a LONG day of many miles and a lot of elevation gain, a good dinner which included the trout we caught, and a nice fire, capped off the evening. After a hike like that, there is nothing better than a little chair snuggling in front of a roaring campfire. Girls Just want to have fun!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
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Monday, March 7, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #238 
Wind Rivers, #238:  
After another 4-mile overland scramble, we arrived back in camp with trout for all. Our camp cook was preparing other things as well, and anticipating our return, he had started a nice campfire, around which I gathered my weasels for this group shot to mark the end of our first full day. As it so often does in the Wind Rivers, clouds built up in the late afternoon sky, but they never manifested a full thunderstorm, and they dissipated when the cool of the evening settled in. Given a 10-mile+ day, and over 1,500ft of vertical climbing, I thought the next morning should be laid back, and that we would hang closer to camp. Now, however, it is time for dinner, and being cozy around the campfire, chilling in the sling chairs.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, February 28, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #237 
Wind Rivers, #237:  
Temple Lake is a spectacular setting, nestled at the foot of 13,804ft. Temple Peak. Whereas Deep Lake is a dark sapphire blue, Temple is turquoise green, and a much larger lake. It has become windy up here, but we are fishing with lures and not flies, so we can still get in some long casts, and everyone steps up onto a boulder to tease the trout. It gave me great satisfaction to see these young kids enjoying such a day in a very wild place, and feeling completely comfortable with it all. I especially enjoyed my lethally cute daughter throwing out long casts with her pink Barbie rod. OMG!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, February 21, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #236 
Wind Rivers, #236:  
After lunch and sunning at the small lake beneath East Temple Peak, everyone seems rested enough to continue our day of exploration. 700ft above us, over the dome to the left in this picture, lies anther large lake, Temple. So, I decide we should go fish there as well. The troops must rock hop across the creek that comes out of the small, unnamed lake which flows into Deep. Many miles away in the background to the right, War Bonnet Peak and Pingora are visible. We stop to fish briefly at this end of Deep, but do not see any action, so we continue on, and begin our ascent of the dome and terraces leading upward to Temple Lake Basin.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, February 14, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #235 
Wind Rivers, #235:  
All posses should have group portraits if they find themselves in striking settings, and what could be more striking than being at the foot of 12,605ft. East Temple Peak in the Wind River Range. In full pose, my crew hams it up. My daughter, Talja, is to the right in light blue. My son, Travis, sports the cool shades in the wayback to the left. LiLi seems to be the only one not trying to be silly. East Temple looks pretty serious.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, February 7, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #234 
Wind Rivers, #234:  
As my posse, and I, continue around Deep Lake to the far end, it brings us beneath the very impressive East Temple Peak, towering above us at 12,605ft. Deep Lake is huge, and very deep, but just 100ft. or so above Deep, is a tiny, shallow, unnamed lake that sits, literally at the foot of the East Temple summit. I thought such a dramatic perch would be a good place to have a mid-morning snack, so we all scramble up to the little lake, and find some rocks to perch on while taking in a little food, and the warmth of the sun. Travis went down to the lake to get some water, and LiLi followed, having decided to go swimming.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
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Monday, January 31, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #233 
Wind Rivers, #233:  
For our first full day in the Deep Lake Basin of the Wind River Range, I want to show the mom, the four kids, and my dog, LiLi, the entire basin, which they are likely to explore further in the coming days of our 10-day camping trip. Getting an early start, we ascend the staircase waterfall that comes down from Deep Lake into Clear Lake, where our camp is located. Arriving at Deep Lake, a large body of water above 10,000ft, we then clamber half way around the eastern shore of the lake, where there have been fewer visits from people who fish. We all have poles to share, so I want to teach the kids to fish. I guess correctly about the presence of catchable trout, and within 1/2hr., we have four nice ones for dinner tonight. To keep the fish from becoming toxic, they need to be cleaned right away, so I tell everyone what I am going to do, and suggest they might find it a little gross, so they should keep on hiking, and I will catch up to them. But NO!!! If you are a kid, gross is good, so they gather closely around me to see every gory detail. It was especially rewarding to them that the trout made for a VERY tasty dinner that night, as no one, except for me, had ever had trout before.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, January 24, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #232 
Wind Rivers, #232:  
When we dayhikers arrive at our Clear Lake camp), everything has been set up. Talja and her friend are playing at the edge of the lake, and the camp wrangler / chef has begun preparing lunch. The rest of the afternoon is spent hanging out at camp, and swimming in the lake, as most of us are tired after the 9-mile walk in. The next day, however, I intend to show this crew the expanse of this basin, and Deep Lake, which sits another 700ft. above us. Deep also has excellent fishing, so early the next morning, everyone assembles their daypacks, fishing gear, and we are off.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, January 17, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #231 
Wind Rivers, #231:  
6-miles into our hike, we arrive at the first lake, Big Sandy. From here, the trail branches off in three directions. The first goes up into the Cirque of the Towers. There is a stream coming down from there, so we must do a little rock hopping across it, because we are headed for the second intersection that will take us up 3-miles into the Clear Lake basin. The third trail, only slightly further on, leads up into the Temple Peak / Temple Lake basin, which we will approach in a few days from our camp at Clear Lake. Talja, her friend, our camp wrangler, and the pack horses have all preceeded us, setting up the camp and tents, long before we arrive. As we meet the start of our branching trail, the cowboys, and all the pack horses, pass by us on their way back out to the lodge.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
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Monday, January 10, 2022

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #230 
Wind Rivers, #230:  
There is a mandated procedure to enter a designated wilderness area in the US, and it involves signing-in at the trailhead. There is usually a billboard there, with warnings about dangerous animals, and instructions regarding appropriate camping behavior,..pack it in, pack it out - don’t leave litter, etc. There is also a clipboard whereupon you enter the size of your party, the destination where you intend to camp, and how many days you plan to stay. The clipboard is checked fairly regularly by rangers, and if you have not signed out, and it is past your designated last day, it triggers a rescue party to come find you. Here, my son, Travis, on the left, and his friend, Grant, on the right, have just complied. LiLi just wants to get going, so she is throwing out her “take the f%#ing picture, and let’s get this show started,” look.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2022,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, January 3, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #229 
Wind Rivers, #229:  
Back in Pinedale, the kids and I assembled our packs for the 10-day trip into the Clear Lake basin. We planned to drive from Pinedale to the Big Sandy trailhead, where there is also a rustic lodge and cabins. We would be joined there by a mother and her two kids, a daughter Talja’s age, and a son Travis’ age that he went to school with. We would overnight in the cabins, and the next morning, wranglers would take our food, the heavy gear, and the two girls into the basin on horseback. The mother, I, and the two boys would walk in on the relatively short 6-mile trail. The horses would drop the gear, and leave a camp cook, then they would come back out. A camp cook? Hey, this is to be a Cadillac trip! Here, Travis and I are doing some last minute prep before shouldering our daypacks.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
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Monday, December 27, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #228 
Wind Rivers, #228:  
Fremont Lake is quite large, 12-miles long, and generally about 1-mile wide, so our return to the Lakeside Lodge takes awhile, and with very few other boats out on the water, I thought Travis would enjoy being pilot. Naturally he wanted to do this at top speed, and so Talja decided to stand on the bow and take in the breeze. LiLi’s ears were doing a lot of flapping.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
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Monday, December 20, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #227 
Wind Rivers, #227:  
Talja was the first to jump into Fremont Lake, but the day was hot, so eventually Travis joined her. The lake is freezing cold, however, so after some modest splashing around, they both climbed out to warm themselves on the pads at the stern of our motor barge. Naturally, LiLi is watching over them. Once they arise, it will be time to head back to the other end of the lake, return to Pinedale, and begin to prep our packs for the 10-day trip into the Clear Lake basin.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
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Monday, December 13, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #226 
Wind Rivers, #226:  
At the time, my home in LA had a pool where the kids would swim on most days of the summer. Lili always insists on joining them, and swimming alongside. Unfortunately, the boat deck is so far off the water, if Lili jumped in, we would have no way to get her out, so I hang on to her when Talja jumps, and Lili then races to the padded seats on the bow, where she can see Talja heading for the granite ledge, while she whimpers about not being able to swim with her. Talja has no problems with the swim, and hauls herself out on the warm granite to sun for a bit, before starting the swim back. It is pretty clear she is getting into the adventure of being in Wyoming.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
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Monday, December 6, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #225 
Wind Rivers, #225:  
It takes the better part of an hour for us to wend our way into the far end of Fremont Lake, positioning ourselves beneath 2,000ft. walls that rise up into Elkhart Park, where the hiking trailhead begins. The day has now grown hot in the direct sun, and Talja has stripped down to her bathing suit. There is no wind to push us around, so I kill the engine, and we drift for awhile, as everyone takes in some rays. After a half an hour of that, we are hot, and Talja announces that she wants to go swimming. I assure her that the water is REALLY cold, but that does seem to dissuade her one bit, and she asks me if I think she can reach a nearby granite dome that extends into the water with a gentle slope. She swims well, but could cramp up from the cold, so I tell her she can do it, but I also prepare to start the boat up and get her, if she seems to be having a problem.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
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Monday, November 29, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #224 
Wind Rivers, #224:  
On our first morning in Pinedale, I plan some “indoctrination” fun for my kids. Jus outside of town lies the VERY large Fremont Lake which extends twelve miles back into the Wind River Range. Be sure to click the link to understand the perspective. The lake is a popular destination for swimming, fishing, sailing, and motoring about, which is what I plan for us to do. It also hosts a lodge, and the Lakeside Restaurant, so we go there for breakfast to let the day warm up a bit, and then we visit the lodge, where we can rent a power barge. I say “barge” because this is NOT a speed boat, but rather a platform on big pontoons, that hosts a bow deck, a back deck, and a canopy shaded bridge. Still it has decent speed, and standing on the bow deck, Lili, and Talja, are enjoying the ride. (Lili is telling me she wants to drive, but that is not happening.)

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
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Monday, November 22, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #223 
Wind Rivers, #223:  
Our trip into the Wind River Range when Travis was 8yrs.-old must have left an impression, because when my daughter, Talja, turned 8yrs.-old, Travis came to me and said he thought we should take her on a similar trip. At this point, I am just a few months shy of 60, and I am wondering if this is a good idea, but he did have my interest. I was also divorcing their mother, and I thought that perhaps a GREAT road trip would be a good way to spend time with them, so I set about some planning. We now owned a black lab, named LiLi, but that should not be a problem, because for 3yrs. in the early 70’s, I backpacked all through the range with my first black lab, Belle Star. It also happened that a couple we made friends with through school, had a son Travis’ age, and a daughter that was Talja’s, and, they too, were getting divorced, so I asked the wife if she wanted to meet us in Pinedale, and join in a gang-camp. She was quite fit, and thinking about moving to Aspen, so she liked the idea and said yes. I took my tribe to Sun Valley first to get in some local day-hiking with my old friend, Gordon Williams, whom I wanted my kids to meet, then we continued on to Pinedale, where we spent a couple of days adjusting to the altitude, while staying at the Log Cabin Motel, the spectacular grouping of cabins that I staged my backpacks from in the 70’s. Here is my entourage in 2007, on the porch of our cabin.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
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Monday, November 15, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #222 
Wind Rivers, #222:  
By the time our 10-day journey came to a close, and we started our walk out, Llama master, Travis, was in complete control. Normally each of us would lead one Llama, but he wanted to be the whole show, and I was happy to let him do it. We passed many backpackers, and horse-packers, who were going into the range, as we were heading out, and everyone had some comments about what a cool young man he seemed to be, and how polite on the trail, he and HIS Llamas were. This is the final picture of our trip as we are quite close to the Elkhart Park trailhead entrance/exit, and behind them in the low gap of trees, lies the heart of the Wind River Range. Once we got out, the Llamas were picked up, and we drove from Pinedale to Jackson Hole, where Travis was astounded by the “antler arches” that marked the entrance to the town square park, and just before lunch, he witnessed a “shoot-out” on main street. A good time was had by all.

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Monday, November 8, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #221 
Wind Rivers, #221:  
Of the many things my 8yr.-old son accomplished in our 10-day Wind River Range adventure, summiting an 11,000ft.+ peak, catching his first trout, and building a lot of self-confidence, I believe the most important to him was becoming Llama master. Pack Llamas are VERY friendly. They have been bred to serve, and carry. They loved attention from us, and they always wanted to be with us. They did NOT like being left in camp when we went day-tripping, and they were always excited to see us return. Travis grew up with our Rottweiler, Gretchen, whom he loved, and when she passed away, I think he missed communicating with animals, so this camping trip was his chance. On the first day we were on our own, and our friends had left us, Travis wanted to feed and care for the Llamas, and I was glad to have him enthusiastic about something, rather than be intimidated by the vast wilderness around us. Here he is serving up some dinner by hand, because he liked feeling their soft, fuzzy noses.

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Monday, November 1, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #220 
Wind Rivers, #220:  
Seneca Lake is huge, nearly 2-miles long, and the northern end of it is paralleled by the well traveled trail to Island Lake, so a lot of backpackers fish that part of the Seneca shoreline. However, if you look at the link I have provided, you will see the smaller lake at which we have established our new camp, in the middle at the bottom. It is my plan to traverse the edge of the dome in the center of this image, and reach the southern end of Seneca (upper, left), which is hardly ever visited. So, the next morning, Travis, and I, have breakfast, pack a lunch, hobble the llamas, and explore what turns out to be an effortless traverse that brings us directly to the southern edge of Seneca. It is a warm, beautiful day, and we catch trout every time we throw out a line. Catching what we need for a trout pig-out that night, we munch our lunch, scramble around a bit on the nearby domes, and then head back along the traverse ledge to our camp. Llamas don’t like to be left alone, so they are very excited to see us return, and while Travis feeds them, I cook up some hefty trout for a yummy dinner.

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Monday, October 25, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #219 
Wind Rivers, #219:  
If you are going to go out for an all-day hike in the Wind River mountains, you have got to start the day with a hearty breakfast. While Travis is finishing off his oatmeal laden with raisins, I am preparing scrambled eggs, and spicy sausage, thanks to the freeze-dried wonders of Mountain House meals. After breakfast, we are going to break this camp down, and drop about 750ft. from Tommy to a small group of lakes below us. These little lakes are way off the main trails, and as a consequence, they have never been stocked so they don’t offer up any successful fishing, but from the lower lake group, we will have access to Seneca, a huge trout-filled lake that rests in a nearby granite pocket.

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Monday, October 18, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #218 
Wind Rivers, #218:  
My 3yrs. of long summers backpacking in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, (detailed by this blog) left me with a profound love of wilderness, mountains, and high altitude adventuring. My ensuing career took me to a LOT of adventurous places, but none of them stuck in my mind like the Wind Rivers, and yet, I was so busy, I never got back to hike in the range again. Life seemed to fly by, filled with many successful projects, exhibitions, and books. Then I married for a second time, and did something I never thought I would do,..have children. When I was 48yrs. old, Travis Gaard Ketchum was born. In his first 8yrs., my wife and I took him, and our daughter, born 4yrs. later, camping many times, but always to places that were campgrounds with facilities. When Travis turned 8yrs. old, and I, 56, I decided he should have a high altitude, wilderness experience, and I should see the Wind Rivers one more time before I got too old. My wife trusted my judgement, I hooked up with another dad who had a son of the same age, and instead of backpacking, we rented llamas to carry the weight. We four, and our four llamas, drove to the 9,000ft.+ trailhead at Elkhart Park, and began our walk in. The other dad and son could only stay 4 days, so we “adjusted" to the altitude, and never went above 9,500ft. When my friend and his son left, Travis was apprehensive, and wanted to go as well, but I told him we had come a long way, and we were fully prepare for ten-days, so I thought we ought to stay. That night, while sitting on a rock watching a GREAT sunset, a “magical” elk came into our meadow quite near us, and, then and there, Travis made up his mind to go for it. The next day we took our two llamas to a small, high lake called, Tommy, at 10,500ft. We had a great campsite immediately adjacent an 11,600ft summit, which we climbed the next day. It took me two years to summit in the Winds. My 8yr.-old son did so on his fifth day. After the climb, standing in our camp, I took this picture of Travis, with the summit behind him, so he might always remember his youthful accomplishment.

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Monday, October 11, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #217 
Wind Rivers, #217:  
Another dangerous aspect of falling was not just that the process of getting back up was incredibly tiring, but as we grew more tired, we made more mistakes. Falling also had another dangerous feature. If the fall was bad enough (such as the one shown here), you could easily bury a ski tip, and get torqued around injuring your knees, or possibly breaking a leg. All of us took some brutal falls, many of them, but the gods were kind, and late in the evening we all reached the flatlands tired, but uninjured. Courtney had a radio, and signaled the ranchers we were out, so they would come and pick us up, which presented the final challenge. Some of the snowmobiles were used to tow the numerous sleds. The others towed us, once again like water-skiers. Going in, this stunt was terrifying, but we were morning strong, and not worn out. Now we were exhausted, AND carrying packs, so although nobody fell, I reflect on this as the most dangerous thing I have ever done on skis. I was SO glad to reach the ranch, dump my gear, and head for my hotel room. What a day!

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Monday, October 4, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #216 
Wind Rivers, #216:  
Towing a sled was a nightmare, but sometime, if the downhill line was treeless, you could lower the sled in front of yourself, until it came to rest below you, and then you could ski down without it chasing behind you. Nonetheless, wearing a full pack made us top-heavy, and it was extremely difficult to stay centered over your skis. Most of us fell repeatedly, and if you fell forward, you were buried facedown by the weight of your pack. To facilitate getting up, you would have to take your pack off, tamp out a place to put your skis back on, and then re-shoulder your pack. This could happen repeatedly every few feet, meanwhile you are sucking snow, sweating, and getting colder. It makes for a very long day.

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Monday, September 27, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #215 
Wind Rivers, #215:  
We arose early this morning, as we needed to ski many miles to reach the flats where our rancher friends would meet us with snowmobiles. The entire day would be downhill, and WAY more dangerous than skiing off of 11,500ft+ Mount Baldy. There were many factors that played into the danger of our retreat. For one, we had been out for 10-days, and we were tired, having expended a lot of energy to ski and stay warm. Secondarily, we were going to spend the day skiing downhill with full packs, which is an exhausting struggle to stay over your skis, and not go down. Lastly, we were all dragging sleds, also heavily laden with gear. This image gives you a good idea of the danger in that. Gravity pulls the sleds downslope, even if you are traversing to control your descent. It is not just a matter of skiing around, and through, the trees, you must also navigate so the sled does not get pulled into a wind hole around a tree base.

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Monday, September 20, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #214 
Wind Rivers, #214:  
We arrived back at our camp at about 4p.m., immediately beginning meal prep, and the reorganization of our now consolidated gear. Tomorrow we will have a long, difficult, and dangerous ski out, and will need to get started early, so all packing has to be done before we retire tonight. Except for a few emergency snacks, breakfast the coming morning, and lunch for the next day skiing, we tried to eat all the other food that was left, as no one wanted to carry that weight back out. Dinner lasted quite awhile, and was a complete pig-out.

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Monday, September 13, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #213 
Wind Rivers, #213:  
Around noon, it was finally time to strap on our packs, and head back to the tent camp that we established as the first site of this expedition. In this shot you get a good sense of the load each of us carried. The food weight was now gone, but there was still a lot of fluffy gear to be shouldered. In this background, you can also see 11,500+ft Mount Baldy, that we summited and skied down from yesterday. Our downhill run took us along the ridge that slopes to the right, and although we did do it, now it seems crazy that we would even try. Ahhh! The collective conscious of a determined group!

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Monday, September 6, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #212 
Wind Rivers, #212:  
As the morning wears on, some high clouds begin to drift in, but it does not look like rain, or snow. Nonetheless, our leisurely crew begins to collect itself for the ski back to our tent camp, several miles away. This is a great perspective of the entrance to our massive snowcave, which I am actually sorry to be leaving. It is much warmer and more comfortable than the tents.

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Monday, August 30, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #211 
Wind Rivers, #211:  
Eventually, we finish our downhill journey off of Mount Baldy, and return to our campsite / snowcave. After a big meal, and the consumption of more alcohol, everyone tucks in for the night. When we arise in the morning, we are greeted by a clear, and relatively warm day. Our mission for the next 24hrs. is to leave this camp, and return to our tent camp, which is not a very long ski away, so no one is in a hurry to begin the journey, and we all kick back in the sunshine, using it to dry out our gear. In this shot you can see many innovative “structures” created by skis and poles.

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Monday, August 23, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #210 
Wind Rivers, #210:  
Well, we are all having fun MOST of the time. That flat light can be tricky, as I pointed out in the last post, and here, one of our merry band has just faceplanted. A faceplant is not only sobering because you suddenly have snow in your sleeves, and down your neck, but because we are all wearing packs, you can be pinned in difficult positions. This guest is struggling to get up, because his ski has buried its tail, and he can’t pull it out. I actually went to his aid, and freed the tail, so he could roll over, and get to his feet.

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Monday, August 16, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #209 
Wind Rivers, #209:  
Oly Skinner (left) is still stylin’ his parallel turns, as is Monte (right), while the rest of us are just trying to get by. The slope has grown less steep, and the snow conditions are good, but the light flattens out as the passing clouds blow through, so it is easy enough to misjudge the terrain and catch a tip, or an edge. Even so, we are all having fun.

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Monday, August 9, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #208 
Wind Rivers, #208:  
Moving farther down the slopes of Baldy, the terrain begins to be less steep, so, likely fueled by the celebratory birthday beers at the summit, the Skinner brothers do a little showing off. Oly, in particular, has been making me a bit crazy, because he has been skiing flawlessly, so I have some revenge when he is the first to take this rock ledge jump, and does a full-on faceplant - note the snow dusting on his clothing. Courtney follows suite, and as you can see is touching down here, after a few seconds of being airborne. He, too, faceplants. Hahaha! I guess you can only be so perfect. In the end, the mountain gods punish us all a little bit, but no one gets hurt, and a good time is had by all.

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Monday, August 2, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #207 
Wind Rivers, #207:  
The Skinner brothers are starting to piss me off because they make the downhill skiing look so effortless. Not one of them has yet taken a fall, all three of them are linking good parallel turns, and as you can see here, Oly is in perfect parallel form on a long traverse. The weather is scuttling by, providing some dramatic lighting, but except for an occasional flurry, it does nothing to interrupt our downhill adventure. We are now about halfway home, so ski on!

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Monday, July 26, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #206 
Wind Rivers, #206:  
Oly Skinner, and I, watch as two very different ski styles are on display before us. Farthest down the slope, Monte Skinner is rocking some successive parallel turns with grace. However, the person behind him is snowplowing, and side-stepping around their turns, which is a great way to assure an eventual faceplant, and most of us do one, or two, in our decent.

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Monday, July 19, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #205 
Wind Rivers, #205:  
All three Skinner brothers, Courtney, Oly, and Monte, teach skiing at the local downhill ski area in Pinedale, and they are the best skiers amongst us. Even though we are working with boots less stiff than traditional downhill ski boots, we still can maintain some decent edge control, and here, Oly is sporting pretty good parallel form, linking a smooth series of turns. I am the most cautious of the group because I have two cameras hanging around me, and if I go down hard, I could break a rib. I need to make these pictures, however, if I expect to get this story into POWDER magazine (which I do).

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Monday, July 12, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #204 
Wind Rivers, #204:  
With the last beers in hand, and all of the gear repacked, we are about to step into our skis once again, so Oly climbs the summit cairn for a parting shot. We are also showing off our various ski and binding set-ups. You will note that although we have been skiing cross-country style to get here, none of us has cross-country skis. All of our equipment is downhill, with a variety of unique bindings that allow us to ski cross-country with our heels “free” (not locked in place), but then they can convert, locking the heel down so you can ski downhill style as well, which we are about to do. A couple of last gulps, and we are off! (We are DEFINITELY off!)

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Monday, July 5, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #203 
Wind Rivers, #203:  
Pictures have been taken, snacks have been consumed, but there are still several unfinished beers, so we continue to imbibe while slowly packing our gear, and preparing for the ski down. The passing weather opens and closes the view, and it also flattens the light, which will make skiing tricky, but for the time being, we are just enjoying the fact that we summited. Courtney Skinner is to the left in blue, and Oly is sitting in front of the summit cairn, a structure of rocks constructed to mark the true summit. This cairn also holds a summit “diary” located beneath a couple of the big stones on top, and people reaching the summit traditionally sign-in, date their visit, and say something. We are the only ones to sign-in during the winter.

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Monday, June 28, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #202 
Wind Rivers, #202:  
Many different snacks, and several beers later, we are about to end our 50th birthday party for Monte, and step back into our skis for the descent, so I take one last look over the edge of the north face of Mount Baldy and record some of the summits in the Cook Lakes Basin, faintly emerging from the clouds. Most of these peaks are in the 11,000ft-12,000ft range, and during summer backpacks in this basin, I have climbed around on many of them. Seeing them like this in the winter is a VERY different take. They are much steeper than Mount Baldy which we have ascended, and to my view, they look pretty intimidating.

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Monday, June 21, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #201 
Wind Rivers, #201:  
At the summit of Mount Baldy (11,500ft+), the 50th birthday party for Monte is underway, and the beer has been broken out, so I join the festivities, and we take a lot of pictures of each other, while we snack and guzzle. Every so often, however, I venture over the the edge of the north face, and peer into the basin below us, where the weather show continues. Working with my telephoto again, this image gives me a sense of scale because of the spare trees. The expanse of the basin is huge, and this is about 1/20th of it!

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Monday, June 14, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #200 
Wind Rivers, #200:  
I was building a portfolio of work that would eventually be published as “WINTERS: 1970-1980,” and so I switched cameras to shoot in B&W. This moment of weather passing over us on the summit of Mount Baldy (11,500ft+) gave me 3 images that made it into the portfolio. This first one is a telephoto of the event shown in the last post. Cloud shadows, and Fool’s Holes are racing across the distant basin, as the weather blows through at a rapid pace. Just FYI, "Fool’s Holes" is an adventurer’s terminology for the bright spots of sunlight. A “fool” would see them and say, “Oh, the weather is breaking off.” NOT likely!

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Monday, June 7, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #199 
Wind Rivers, #199:  
There are still two skiers behind me when I reach the summit. The others that arrived before me have shed their packs, put on their parkas, and they are breaking out the food and beer. Just as I arrive, a low level snow squall engulfs the summit, and we all disappear into a momentary fog of flying flakes. From our current vantage point, looking off the opposite side of Baldy from that which we ascended, it drops steeply into the Cook Lakes basin, where I have often camped in the summer. As the cloud surrounding us passes by and lifts slightly, I get my first view (above) of the basin below, bespeckled by Fool’s Holes and cloudshadows that are racing across it. The scale of it all is breathtaking.

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Monday, May 31, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #198 
Wind Rivers, #198:  
Oly Skinner is making his last push here, and I will be about 10mins. behind him. There is more wind at this altitude, and we are all occasionally pelted by flurries of snow, but because we are working to climb, no one is cold, and most of us are skiing in sweaters or thermals. I will ski to the left, then kick-turn, and follow Oly’s ascending track. By the time I do that, Oly will have joined Courtney and two others on the exposed rock summit, where we will eat, drink, and be merry for awhile, before skiing back down.

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Monday, May 24, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #197 
Wind Rivers, #197:  
The last traverse is finally upon us, and the summit quite near. It is a good thing, too, because the weather has become sketchy. Not only are there clouds blowing through above us, periodically they blow right through us. Visibility is marginal momentarily, and we are pelted by blobs of wet snow. It is no big deal, as long as it does not get worse. Courtney Skinner, who is in the lead here, says the exposed rocks on the highest point to the left is the summit, and they expect we will now all be there in just some minutes.

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Monday, May 17, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #196 
Wind Rivers, #196:  
This is a good example of how we spaced ourselves to minimize any risk of an avalanche. There are three of our party in this shot, and the lead skier, and I, are very close to the summit now. It is a good thing too, because as you can see, the weather seems to be changing, and we are hit with occasional flurries of snow. No one has any plans to retreat, though, as we have come this far, we ARE going to celebrate Monty’s 50th birthday on top of 11,500ft.+, Mount Baldy. I can taste those beers now, they are just a sip away! The ski down should be amusing.

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Monday, May 10, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #195 
Wind Rivers, #195:  
As the terrain grows ever steeper, I am sure we all wish there was a ski lift, but since there is not, we just keep angling upward with our lines of traverse. We all stop now and then for water and snacking, but our pace is pretty steady. There is definitely weather blowing over us, so we are collectively determined to get this climbing done sooner rather than later. Since we have come this far, no one wants to be turned back now. Besides we carried all those beers to celebrate Monty’s birthday, and we fully intended to drink them on the summit cairn. Time to bear down and push up, it is not that much farther and then party can get started.

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Monday, May 3, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #194 
Wind Rivers, #194:  
And so it begins! Slowly, ever upward using big, long traverses to the point where something blocks you, then you kick-turn and crisscross back. It is a meditative, methodical process, and everyone is spaced apart so that if someone sets off a slide, it won’t take out the person below them. The snow is VERY firm from windpacking, however, so I doubt we are going to see anything slide today. Notice in this shot how completely on the surface crust his ski is, there is no sinking in whatsoever. There is no powder to be found, so the ski down is going to be like skiing on spring snow. The wind has picked up a bit, and some clouds are blowing in, but it does not feel like storm conditions, so we are pretty sure we will summit, perhaps in the next two hours.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #193 
Wind Rivers, #193:  
As we glide past the last small dale of alpine trees, we come to the base of the actual summit. It has not been hard working our way through the foothills, but what comes next is an entirely different animal. The new terrain is exclusively rock and snow, and it is steep. Some clouds have drifted in as well, and the light has become very flat. At this point, no one doubts that we will summit, but the day is changing, and we are now moving into early afternoon. It is planned that we will have lunch on top, so before we hit that upslope in front of us, everybody waters up, and I break out a couple of Heath bars to munch on. The trick now is to draw a traverse line as steep as possible without any slippage, and keep switchbacking across this face until we hit the exposed rock at the top. Assuming we make that, I begin considering the ski back down, which could be very amusing,..or not! This will certainly be an adventure.

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Monday, April 19, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #192 
Wind Rivers, #192:  
Rather than trees with meadows of snow spaced between them, we now stand at the very foot of Mount Baldy, and are confronted by small patches of alpine trees, and vast pitches of wide-open, snow-covered slopes. The snow beneath us has been very firm, and there is no evidence of any avalanching in front of us, so we are now going to begin the upslope traversing that hopefully will take us all the way to the summit without any accidents. The Skinners have a good deal of experience in doing this in the Wind Rivers, so the rest of our group seems very comfortable with their decisions, and no one appears nervous or frightened. From this vantage, however, it is clear how steep our ascent is going to be, so my only concern is the amount of work in front of us. Excelsior!

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Monday, April 12, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #191 
Wind Rivers, #191:  
After a snack break at the top of the first foothill, we track the last section of substantial trees, as Mount Baldy summit continues to glow above us in the sunlight. Once through this section, patches of trees will become smaller, and farther between as we begin to rise. Snow conditions are perfect, and the temperature is warm enough that everyone is skiing in sweaters or wool shirts, and no one has put on a shell or a parka. Between the food, and the exhilaration of the approach, we are jacked, and striding at a good pace, so we should hit the lower slopes of the summit in about 1/2hr. Then the work will begin.

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Monday, April 5, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #190 
Wind Rivers, #190:  
The slowly ascending saddle as we pick our way through the trees, finally opens up considerably, and offers all of us our first direct view of the summit of Mount Baldy. It is going to be all up from here, but the snow conditions are so excellent, it has taken us little effort to come this far, and no one seems tired. In fact, we are pretty much jacked up on adrenaline as this climb is about to start. Baldy is still glowing in sunlight, beckoning us on, and our skins are biting into the packed snow track so no one is slipping. It is full steam ahead. At the top of the first rise in front of us, we will stop for water and snacks, and after that respite, point our tips at the 11,500+ft summit and begin our traversing upward. Even with skins, we will not have enough traction to just go straight up, so the line of attack will be a series of linked traverses, each rising as steeply as what traction we have will allow.
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Monday, March 29, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #189 
Wind Rivers, #189:  
With Courtney Skinner breaking trail, and Mount Baldy gleaming in sunlight before us, we head toward a low saddle in the trees, to the right of the granite dome in this shot. As you can see from the ski tracks, although there is several feet of snow beneath us, we are not pushing through deep powder because the surface has been wind-packed, which makes for great skiing conditions, so we are gliding along in timely fashion, and not wearing ourselves out before we even start the climb. The sky has intermittent clouds, but it appears that a good day is to be had by all. We are off to see the Wizard!
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Monday, March 22, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #188 
Wind Rivers, #188:  
Monty Skinner's 50th birthday has arrived, and although there is a broken cloud cover, it appears that it will not prevent us from our attempt to ascend Mount Baldy, so we fix an early breakfast and begin to prepare our gear. Our daypacks host extra clothing, food, avalanche protection devices, shovels, and most importantly, we each carry several cans of celebratory beer with which we plan to toast Monty, if we summit. All of our other equipment will stay in the snowcave. There is a certain restless eagerness in all of us, with a lot of ski, binding, and boot adjusting going on, as we all prepare for the task ahead. Shortly we will be on our way.

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Monday, March 15, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #187 
Wind Rivers, #187:  
We all sleep well in the warmth of the huge snowcave, and when we emerge in the morning, it is apparent that it had been a very cold night. Everything metal is encrusted with rime-ice, and it is 14˙ colder outside the cave than within it. The sky is not clear, but slightly hazy, although there does not seem to be any serious weather approaching, so camp immediately begins to buzz with the prepping of breakfast, lunches for all, and each of our daypacks. We all carry ample food, and water, as well as some birthday beers, so if we summit, we can properly celebrate Monty’s 50th. We have extra clothing as well, plus avalanche lines, pieps, and snow shovels. The daypacks are not unusually heavy, but they are definitely stuffed with fleece layers and parkas. While skiing today, most of us will wear longjohns, vests and shells. The climb will keep us comfortably warm, and we all want to avoid sweating into our base layers, which would then chill us rapidly, anytime we stop. In this image, the peak in the distance is Mount Baldy, and we hope to assemble on that point about the middle of the day for a birthday “party.” (The red skis in the middle are my downhill, The Skis, with Rohrer bindings, state of the art for back in the day. Today the top-of-the-line Rohrer binding is $521. WHAT!)

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Monday, March 8, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #186 
Wind Rivers, #186:  
The huge snowcave The Mole has dug has grottos to store our packs and small gear, and benches above the floor on which we can sleep. There are some lanterns for light, and in some places, spoons have been stuck into the walls to support single candles. It is relatively bright, and warm, so much so that most of us are in shirtsleeves with a vest, and we have taken off our heavier fleece, and parkas. There is some modest consumption of alcohol, and a lot of discussion about the next day, as we are all anticipating that decent weather will allow us an attempt on the 11,500ft+ summit of Mount Baldy. If it is clear in the morning, it is a go for sure, and the lower slopes of the mountain are less than one-mile from our encampment. Sweet Dreams!

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Monday, March 1, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #185 
Wind Rivers, #185:  
Having chosen a location for our Camp #2, it is now time to have our crew member nicknamed, The Mole, go to work on building our snowcave. He, and one other in our group, have carried wide-blade, non-collapsing shovels, strapped to their backpacks, exclusively for this purpose. Because the snow deposit we have chosen has been created by small avalanches, and snow sluffing off of steep granite domes, this snow is really compressed, so the cave will be very stable, and easy to carve out. The wide blade shovels are used to punch a square into the snow wall, and on the last punch, a mere flick of the shovel pops out a near-perfect brick of snow. While The Mole keeps doing this quickly, another in our merry band loads the snow bricks onto a sled, which Ole Skinner is managing, and he drags it out, dumping those bricks nearby, and returning to the cave entrance as quickly as possible. It is getting to be late in the afternoon, and this will be a big cave, so they want to get it finished before it gets dark. Outside the cave, others in our group work on carving out a kitchen with benches, and the remainder of us have teamed up with Monty and Courtney to do dinner prep. The cloudy weather has cleared completely, and we all know that means it is going to be a cold, clear night. It will be great to be inside the much warmer cave while we sleep.

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Monday, February 22, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #184 
Wind Rivers, #184:  
The blustery winds have actually been blowing the dark clouds away, and as we stand pondering our view of Mount Baldy, the sky clears, and the sun comes out, illuminating us, and giving us a glowing view of the summit we hope to ascend tomorrow. First things first, however. We have come to Camp #2 without our tents, in anticipation of making snow caves,..actually ONE huge snow cave, as Courtney thinks there is enough snow, and we will all be warmer, sleeping together. For such a large cave, we must find a substantial deposit of snow, more than just what has fallen on the ground. The location of choice is the small chute between the two exposed rock faces to the left side of this image. Deep snow has built up behind the screen of trees, because of what has sluffed-off the rock walls, and been transported downhill by small avalanches in the chute. Now the work begins! Among our crew is an assistant of Courtney’s, a big college kid, occasionally referred to as, The Mole. This is his moment. The big shovels come out, and the gear is taken out of the largest sled. Courtney, and The Mole, do some snow depth probing, determine the best location, and the digging begins. At the start, there is only so much room in which to work, so the rest of us just stand, snack, and stare, at the spectacle of the snow cave being created.

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Monday, February 15, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #183 
Wind Rivers, #183:  
The weather appears most ominous about 2pm. because it has not only grown darker, and now a wind has arrived. However, fearless leader, Courtney Skinner, says that we are nearly at our destination, and he expects we will arrive (wherever “there” is) by 3pm, so on we go. As we cross what he believes is the last lake, we are buffeted by some substantial gusts that are blowing ground snow around, but not bringing any snow from the sky. At the end of this last lake, there is a modest rise, and then we confront a small open space with few trees, surrounded by snow-covered granite domes. As we ski towards the middle of the open space, Mount Baldy comes into view, and it is not all that far away. We have arrived at Camp #2, now we just have to create it.

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Monday, February 8, 2021

High and Wild:  Three Years of Wandering in the Wind Rivers, #182 
Wind Rivers, #182:  
As we approach our lunch break moving from Camp #1 to Camp #2, the sunny morning gives way to ever-darkening clouds, and it looks like it might snow. The temperature has dropped also, so when we do stop for lunch, everybody’s layers come out. The food break refuels us, and jump-starts our body heat, so once we step back into our skis. Most feel rested, and immediately get warmer with our activity. There is almost no climbing involved in today’s ski. Our line of approach crosses several lake surfaces and then slips through narrows between the rolling hills, which are probably the frozen over surfaces of streams that connect the lakes together. T