This is my love letter to Wyoming. The land of wild winds and rattlesnakes, snow-covered peaks and dusty desert roads, and untouched rocks that sprout like islands from a sea of wild sagebrush.
For those of you who don’t know, I spent two months during the summer working as an activities guide at the Magee Homestead in Saratoga, Wyoming. I guided hikes, mountain bike rides, climbing trips, and ultimately facilitated the outdoor experience of the various guests at the luxury resort ranch.
When I came home to Florida at the end of August I felt a little lost. I had made Wyoming my home and it was hard to let go of what my life had become out there. I’m the kind of person who uses writing to process my thoughts and emotions, but I had originally told myself that I wouldn’t write a blog post about my time in Wyoming. July and August of 2018 have become foundational building blocks of the person that I am today, and were months full of lessons learned, friendships made, tears of joy and sadness, and my heart pounding hard in my chest. But, I thought to myself, those things are only relevant and impactful to me.
How can I write about Wyoming when most of the moments that resonate in my heart are the small things? Things like the feeling of dirt on my face and wind in my hair as I rode on a ranger and chased the sunset with friends. Every little thing feels monumental; every glance across the dinner table, every laugh, every belay is so full of meaning and love that it seems wrong not to document it. But at the same time, they’re still little things. Things too small to bother writing about, unless I plan on making 20 blog posts about my time in Wyoming.
Every time I sat down to write this post I felt overwhelmed and unsure of what I wanted to say. So I’ve decided to forget about whether or not people would want to read this post and to stop worrying about if the things I say will come across as important to you as they felt to me.
I decided that in order to write this post I need to change my intended audience, and dear reader I’m sorry to say that this post isn’t for you. It isn’t even really for me.
It’s for Wyoming.
The cowboy state. A land so deserted that the entire state has one cellphone area code and the pronghorn antelope almost outnumber the people.
The old me never had Wyoming on her must-visit list of states; my heart was drawn towards Utah and Alaska and Washington. Ya know, the cool states. But among countless other things, this summer taught me that Wyoming deserves way more credit than it gets.
Mountains and deserts, two of my favorite things, collided head on in the wilderness of Wyoming. I lived and worked in a dry desert full of sage and cactus, but within 30 minutes I could find myself sitting among the wildflowers with my feet in an alpine lake at the base of a snow-covered mountain. In Wyoming I didn’t feel like I needed to forsake one of my loves in order to enjoy the other; instead I could climb in the desert and hike in the mountains in the same day.
There are moments in Wyoming that I’ll never forget: ambling up Route 26 and watching the Teton Range grow larger in the window; being kissed on the cheek by a hummingbird while resting on a trail; rappelling into an orange canyon and looking down at my feet to see vibrant green water 400 feet below me; waking up in my tent next to one of the alpine lakes in Medicine Bow National Forest and watching the sun hit the mountains; shoving my taped hands into the perfect cracks at Vedauwoo.
However, not every moment was a big, spectacular event. There were days when I held back tears and picked cactus spines out of my bare feet, and nights when I struggled to go to sleep because of the pressure in my chest caused by the elevation. And at the beginning of my trip there were moments when I felt unbelievably alone.
I struggled so hard to write this post because I didn’t feel like it was possible for me to accurately convey my experience, my emotions, my life over the past two months: it was just too much. But now I know that these places and memories don’t just belong to me – they belong to Wyoming and to every person who travels out into the wild west. If you watch the morning light hit Medicine Bow peak or stand up through the sunroof on a dusty county road or even play pool at Dukes in Saratoga, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Moments like that aren’t entirely mine, they can be yours too.
I hope everyone had a wonderful summer, and I’m happy to be back home with my laptop (that I conveniently forgot to bring out west). I can’t wait to fall back into the rhythm of writing on Forest Tourist, and I think you’ll enjoy the stories that I have to share.
Was this helpful? Have feedback for me? Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos in this post were taken by me.