A few weeks ago, while I was nursing weak lungs and a festering disappointment about my failed Tour Divide, I received a text from my friend Danni in Montana, who I've missed and haven't seen in at least two years. She asked if I wanted to join a group of friends for a backpacking trip in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, playfully dubbed "Fat Camp." I was unsure about my health and the logistics of wedging another trip into this already-packed year, but at the last minute decided I couldn't bear to miss it.
"I SO want to join you," I replied. "Otherwise this will be the worst summer ever, seriously."
"I'm really pathetically fat and out of shape, so don't worry even if you still have pneumonia," Danni wrote.
I hate going hungry, more than I hate struggling under big backpacks, so I packed an enormous amount of food. I thought my supply was reasonable for five days, but I was still thinking more in terms of the Tour Divide, when I was mowing through 5,000-plus calories a day. Out here, even with difficult terrain that pushed our 11-mile days into the 5- to 9-hour range, 3,000 calories were about all I could stomach. I ended up with nearly three days' worth of extra food, but it's nice to know I can carry what I need for a week or more in the backcountry.
At the airport, my pack weighed 28 pounds before I added water, bear spray, electronics, and fuel. It was an unwieldy thing, and I have been spoiled by bikepacking, which lets the bike do the carrying and only requires extra leg work from me. Having all that weight on my upper body threw me off kilter. I stumbled and fell a number of times during the first two miles, which descended 2,000 feet into the Long Lake valley. Near the bottom I fell hard on my left arm, spraining my wrist. This minor injury would bother me a lot for the next two days, but healed just in time to negotiate the most difficult scrambles of the route.
We found a beautiful, secluded spot just below the lower Titcomb lake to set up camp for the next two nights.
Fremont Peak and flowers. So many flowers!
Thanks again, ladies!