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Spend a few days in mountains to appreciate the past
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 00:00

High atop a mountain in the Wind River Range, the only buzz heard is created by a swarm of mosquitoes.

Cell phones won’t work, computers are too heavy to carry and playing a portable music device would defeat the purpose of the trip.

It is on this mountaintop a person can reconnect with him or herself and appreciate a simpler style of existence we often lose sight of.

I spent three days hiking with my family in the mountains bordering Lander, Wyo., living like our ancestors did when they settled the great American West.

I didn’t realize it while pounding out miles of trail at elevations sometimes exceeding 10,000 feet, but spending a few days in the woods provides a perspective on life forgotten in the information age where comfort and accommodation is just a button push away.

I’ve backpacked many times before, but a trip to the Fremont County museum the day after I returned introduced a new perspective on my excursions into the woods.

While touring the museum, I saw pictures of pioneers living daily the way I chose to live for a mere three days.

White men, women and children walked with loads of possessions on their backs while traveling in the unsettled territory. They hauled water from the streams and often slept in makeshift structures while building their homes with their own hands.

American Indians also lived off the land constructing tepees they carried with them as they trekked from place to place following a buffalo herd.

None of them could shower daily.

There was no antibacterial soap to stop the spread of germs.

Contact with family and friends only occurred in person.

At night, they sat around a campfire telling stories and singing songs, not around a television staring mindlessly.

Modern technology, however, makes backpacking into the mountains a much more comfortable experience than the settlers had.

Tents, a tiny camp stove, dehydrated meals, sleeping pads and headlamps would seem luxurious to people from the past.

Even with my camping conveniences and comforts, we were still in the wild unplugged from the madness of modern society.

Not all people appreciate the outdoors or choose to spend time hiking grueling trails with blisters on both ankles, but most would benefit from a few days of complete disconnection. It teaches a person to appreciate our way of life today and understand how hard the lives of others were on the journey to where we are now.


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