Can you believe we have walked over 70 miles between our two trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness? Our first trip was in early September with a total of 8 veterans and our second trip was early October with 10 total veterans. Thanks to all of our supporters, followers, and partners for helping us get the word out.
Both of our trips took the same amount of time (4 days and 3 nights), they took the same trail (headquarters pass to Gibson Reservoir), and they had the same purpose (do difficult things and gain all that comes with it). they could not have been more different. They were both very amazing trips with people that soon became friends, but it was the people that made each trip unique.
The first day is up and over Headquarters pass (roughly 2000ft up and back down) and about 9 miles from start to first camp. We were also carrying our heaviest loads for the first day, because we have an elk steak stew to eat for the first night around the campfire.
After waking up from the first night, we already see who slept well and who did not. It does not matter how you slept, we have a mission to complete. We start every morning with a fire, coffee, breakfast (Alpen Fuel), yoga, and most mornings we add breathing and meditation. Then, it is time to put our packs on and finish our movement to the next campsite. We typically hike for 50 minute intervals but the terrain and weather help us to adjust if necessary. Lunch on the second day is over a beautiful bridge on the North Fork of the Sun River (pictured below). We can warm up some food or just eat snacks and we dive into the next topic of discussion (these discussions are different for each group).
After lunch, we pick back up and get to our next campsite. By this time, everyone is ready for a dip in the cold river, and we usually see a few people jump in and most will at least soak their feet. We have hiked almost 20 miles to get to this point and we are starting to notice any weaknesses in our boots, feet, packs, or ..... fitness level. Another meal around the campfire and we have noticed that this is about the time that people really start to connect and open up. The team leaders love to talk about how night 2 of our trips is one of the most fun. You start to see the hard work pay off and veterans start helping veterans. It is in our nature. It is trained into us from the beginning. We can not help but care for the person sitting next to us. For some of us, it has been dormant for a while and it takes a little to wake it up, but for all of us... it is a relief to feel the "brotherhood" again.
You can see from this video that we were lucky enough to catch a beautiful trout on our last trip of the year. It was awesome to show everyone how to clean, cook, and eat a fish in the backcountry. We had some left-over onion and garlic from our elk stew the night before. It made for one of the best fish that any of us could remember eating.
Wake up for the third day and it is more of the same, but it seems to get easier and make more of an impact every morning. Yoga, breathing, meditation, cold water immersion, and warming back up. We pack up and begin the hardest hike of the trip. You see on day one we are pretty excited and have very fresh legs. Day two we are still pumped from the day before and are excited not to have a bunch of elevation to climb. Day four is the last day and we are pushing to go have a burger and beer. Day 3 is the hardest by default. It is hard to find the motivation, but we all find it!
Camping on the last night is in our most primitive spot, but also it is where we find the most wildlife and have our best conversations. Both trips heard the bugling of elk at some point from this campsite. The first trip was hearing bugles all night and into the morning and the second trip got to hear it while doing our morning yoga.
We would love to share the details of the conversation that happens around the campfire, but it is reserved for those that have the guts to join us on one of these trips. Trust us... this is where you NEED to be.
Our last morning sees the best yoga, breathing, and meditation of the trip. We are refreshed and ready for the last 9 miles of the hike. We spend the vast majority of this hike following the Sun River and Gibson Reservoir. There is a cliff that we stop and contemplate jumping into the crystal clear water, and there is a final stop that helps us put a bookend on this amazing adventure. To find out everything from our trips you must join us. There is a tab on the top of this page that says "register." click that and fill out the form if you would like to join us in 2024.
Finally (as long as the vehicles are in the parking lot) we hop in and drive to Augusta, MT. We want a beer and a burger as fast as the wait staff at the Buckhorn can bring it!
You can make sure that these adventures keep happening by becoming a monthly donor today. Our monthly donations are the biggest piece of our mission and help us run the day-to-day operations. With out our monthly donors just like YOU, we can't continue the mission of bringing veterans into the wilderness of Montana. If you have read this entire post, you are exactly the kind of partner we need! click the button below, and join us today!