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John Bernhisel October 09, 2012 TWEET COMMENTS 2

Key Exchange

The easy way to do long point-to-point runs

For years I backpacked and ran trails throughout Northern Wyoming's Cloud Peak Wilderness Area, named after the stunning ...

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Photo by Duane Raleigh

For years I backpacked and ran trails throughout Northern Wyoming's Cloud Peak Wilderness Area, named after the stunning 13,167-foot mountain of the same name. Later, I wanted to extend my forays across the region's spectacular Big Horn Mountains, the limiting factor wasn't fitness or desire— I just didn't feel like lugging the bulky camping equipment and required food for such long point-to-point runs.

So I concocted a new tactic—the load-lightening solution would be to pair up with a friend for a "key exchange" so we could do an entire trail in one day.

My 18-year-old daughter, Alyson, and I planned a 20-mile run through the heart of the wilderness area from Lower Paintrock Lake to West Ten Sleep Lake. I convinced my friend, Alan, from Las Vegas, Nevada, and another friend to run the same trail on the same day, but in the opposite direction. So on a summer morning, our two parties drove our cars to opposite ends of the trail, arriving at 8 a.m. The plan was to rendezvous at the halfway point and exchange car keys. Since the two trailheads are nearly 100 miles apart by road, shuttling a car from one trailhead to the other would have burned up precious daylight hours we needed to be on the trail.

After driving an hour east from Shell, Wyoming, to Lower Paintrock Lake trailhead, my daughter and I hit the trail, each carrying a small waist pack containing food and a few emergency supplies (toilet paper, small flashlight, map, emergency blanket, whistle, rain shell, dry socks and water filter) weighing less than four pounds.

Starting out with great enthusiasm, we cruised up the trail and made several river crossings over the No Wood and Ten Sleep rivers. As we ran through a meadow of wildflowers, a grazing cow moose eyed us suspiciously and took a protective stance in front of her young calf until we were at a safe distance away.

 

 



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