Our 2016 Wildsam Travel Fellow, Kristen Blanton, spent ten days this summer in CO, WY and MT. This week, we begin sharing her dispatches, starting with a note about why such travels mean so much.
STORY I - STORY II
The call of place tends to reveal itself gingerly to me. It comes slowly, but then I feel it in my gut. When deciding where to go for this solo, 10-day trip through the States, I asked myself one question: Of these regions, which would make me most uncomfortable? The answer was the stretch of America I call the Western Parks. Hiking alone for endless miles in Glacier National Parks bear country, riding shotgun to wildfires, exploring new terrain, clocking nine-hour driving days, all alone, through secluded landscapes and sleeping in tents and hostels and abandoned parking lots, peeing in fields - because why not - no rest stops for a hundred miles. All of that and more had me saying no. Not that place. So, when it was time, I asked for a plane ticket to, yes, the Western Parks.
"In these road moments I feel like the kid I can’t remember ever being. I can get back to her."
The road is a nostalgic tool. Beartooth Highway in Yellowstone National Park had me rolling windows down, shitty tears streaming, belting all those father-daughter country songs of my childhood. And then I'm remembering the muck that I labored tirelessly to suppress for decades and without warning there it is, it’s sitting on my lunch plate in Dubois, Wyoming, mocking me the form of a BLT. And it’s good, better than good really; because in these road moments I feel like the kid I can’t remember ever being. I can get back to her – to embracing the sounds of a creek’s song, to walking the blistered miles just to see that place, to really feel it. I stumbled upon landscapes that spoke to me, and every inch of me screamed, Stick your face in the cold hard earth and weep. And I did. -KB