One goal for my western adventure was to climb Laramie Peak. Once a landmark for weary travelers along the Oregon Trail, today it is a popular area for recreation as part of the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming.
There is a nice hiking trail up the 10,274 foot mountain and Johnna and I were stoked to climb it. It’s about five miles up so we set out with packs full of water and supplies but felt no sense of urgency as the forecast was for blue skies all day.
This was the view early in the day.
Lovely, isn’t it? The sky was blue and clear, punctuated with puffy white clouds that my friend calls “Simpson’s Clouds.” It was the perfect day for a long hike.
Around mile three, we started running into rain showers. Just a little drizzle but we could see that a dark cloud was settling over us.
At mile four, the sky turned ominous and the rain picked up.
And then came the wind: wind so powerful that it sounded like a train coming up the mountain and so strong that it could knock you over.
The terrain turns rockier as you near the top, making travel treacherous when the ground and rocks are wet. There’s no cell service here and we saw just one house in the vicinity after traveling for miles without seeing another living soul – even at the campground.
In other words, it would be a long, lonely trip down the mountain to run for help for your friend should someone get hurt. And the rescue undoubtedly would involve a helicopter ride.
We discussed continuing on with our journey and considered sheltering in place if we could find somewhere safe. We had seen a number of natural rock ledges and shelters along the way but none were in sight in that last leg of the journey.
Ultimately, we abandoned our plan and headed back down the mountain toward safety.
It was the right thing to do, even if we were disappointed to abandon our goal. But there will be other trips and other mountains. And we still got in an eight mile hike which isn’t too shabby.
It was a friendly reminder that plans don’t always work out and that sometimes circumstances simply get in the way. We made the best of the day anyway and celebrated eight miles rather than be sad we didn’t make it to ten.
That’s a pretty nice victory too!