So after those brief days back in Lander we were on the bus heading nevously toward the Winds. The bus ride was unique. No one really knew what to expect or how to relate to the other 14 people on the bus, let alone try to figure out who the heck were the three weird people (our instructors) at the front of the bus so patiently enjoying the scenic ride.
We pulled into a massive dirt parking lot filled with cars and with an amazing view of some lake. After rushing to unload the packs off the top of the bus and eat as much food from the lunches we had packed we began to relax alittle bit. The anxiety of Lander, packing, meetings were all done with. All we had to do now was hike....or so we thought. Our last moments in the parking lot were filled with applying sun screeen, checking and double checking our packs for things we needed and things we had deemed useless at the last moment. We broke into 3 smaller groups each one with an instructor. That first day I was with Clair. Once we had gone through the tedious project of making sure each group was self sufficient we seperated ourselves by about 15 minutes and began heading up trail in the general direction of our first camp. To be honest the first few miles seemed like a breeze, my mind wandered to a place of boredom for a bit, hiking on a trail walking at a pace that seemed snail like, I figured I was going to rock this with my eyes shut. (turns out I should have been looking closer.....). That day and the day or two after that were mostly navigated with the help of our instructors but with our input and leadership. After 3 miles or so we split from the trail and began cross country (and bush wacking) up a stream bed to the lake in which we would camp by. According to past trips and one of our maps there was an unofficial trail that lead uphill on the east end of the lake. we however never actually found that trail until much later. So we began hiking, climbing, crawling over downfall and brush in the direction we thought we needed to go. This navigating required we cross back and forth across the trickling stream (notice that in my account of the broken hand it was a roaring river.....lol). This was when the hand thing happened (see other post for details). Once we regrouped, i had some pain meds in me we continued on a game trail for awhile.
After taking a break in a beautiful meadow looking up toward sharp granit peaks and yellow aspens we crossed paths with another team that had found the trail and was cruising up to first camp. Following their lead we jumped on the trail and moved to camp. The most interesting part was after breaking my hand and bush wacking a good majority of the day we were the first group to camp. Which wasnt accepted until we all had hiked about a mile in the surrounding area and looked under every rock in amazement that we were the first ones there. Once everyone roled in we began the lessons on finding a campsite, finding kitchens, and even a wonderful depiction of the 7 Ds of dumping by the one and only Clair Parish. It was an interesting first night. no one really wanted to cook something for fear of ruining it, and everyone was trying to outdo the other groups dinner. we all ended up eating hot calories while the Instructors has some burritos or something (who knows!). The evening was filled with dips in the lake (not by yours truely, though it was a good way to ice my hand) as well as eating all the blue berries we could that covered the entire camp area. With blueberries being some plentiful in that spot it could be expected that bears were close by. though the sighting of one never happened we were reminded of their presence by the massive claw marks in a pine tree at the center of the kitchen areas. (comforting eh....). So i just described the first day, and it took forever. so for the sake of my fingers and the fact that most days blended together highlights will do.
As the trip progressed, breaking into hiking teams became more and more of a breeze. Though it became a large game of "not mine" when caring the bear fence came up. It wasnt so much the weight that made everyone cring with fear, it was more the awkward height of the thing off your pack that made it a garruntee that you would catch every branch, bush and other solid object when trying to manuvuer around them.
(Pause for now)