Wyoming

Wyoming Boat Ride Filled With Hope

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I thought I had heard all there was to know about Wyoming when I rode down the Snake River yesterday on a boat with a 31-year-old male tour guide paddling. It was the last day before I left and probably will never return to this place again. I have loved it but there are other places I want to explore before old age won’t allow it.

Wearing flip-flops and shorts on a chilly day, the tour guide started telling me about the typical day of people here. Before the boat ride, he had already been out for a long run, now he was standing up for three hours using his shoulders to wield oars through a winding lake, and afterward, he would be kayaking down the river.

All in one day, just another day. He told me he’s only a typical outdoors person there. Locals go out and run into nothingness on paths for hours, go work somewhere usually for tourists, then go to the Jackson Hole downtown saloons and party until late into the night. The next day they do the same things again endlessly and constantly.

The guide said awhile back he had a job plowing snow from 2 am until 10:00 am then would go for a long run, kayak, back to the saloons, and on and on.

“Don’t you get tired?” I asked.

“Yes I’m tired a lot,” he said.

“There aren’t many mellow people here,” said another tour guide. “Everybody’s pretty extreme.”

Jackson Hole sponsors a triathlon each year called “The Picnic.” Contestants swim across the Snake River, run to the top of the Tetons some 10,000 feet high — yes a treacherous mountain cliff — run back down the mountain, then bike back to the town of Jackson Hole. Some people just do The Picnic for fun whenever they just feel like running uphill alongside a super steep mountain cliff.

It was at this point I realized I was in a place unlike any I’ve been in my life. Marathon runners are just ordinary, non-descript athletes. Athletes here go on ultra marathon odysseys of 60 miles and more.

Routinely.

Locals wake up, get outside, and tackle big tasks that match the enormity and awe of the mountains sprawling all around. They go big. They stretch the limits of human endurance. They think differently about getting exercise. It’s not just to get in shape. It’s to extend into mental and physical conditions almost none of us consider. This is what they do. This is who they are.

It’s their way of life. It sounds borderline insane but also invigorating and makes you feel your one-hour workouts each day aren’t really fully actualizing.

They test the limits not even to show off, it seems, but more to take on the outdoors in a struggle to find out who can outlast the other. It’s not people competing against people; it’s people against the outdoors in a struggle for who can outlast the other.

Our tour guide talked about the hard parts of being in this place which is so far from everything yet loaded with extreme daily routines.

“Every year three or four of my friends die,” he said.

This happens during various activities such as skiing, boating, running, or hiking up incredible mountain cliffs.

This guide told us how he was studying geology at the University of Wisconsin when, with one semester left to graduate, he bolted to Wyoming and changed his whole life from a video game player to a Wyoming outdoors person. “I had a Renaissance,” he said.

It’s been tough at times paying bills, but overall he loves being in one of the world’s most gorgeous places.

“There’s something about having oars in my hands that I liked from the first time I did it,” he said.

I then started thinking about my own life and how it has all been on the East Coast, a place the tour guide said he had never been. I could have chosen what he did, gone west, not done the typical life of getting an office job, getting married, having kids, and waiting 35 years to get to Wyoming on the vacation of a lifetime.

But I didn’t. I wasn’t right or wrong nor was he. We all choose our paths.

On the boat, I looked at the snow-covered Tetons and tried to figure out why they made me feel something emotional. I realized they are about hope. Those who look at them feel hopeful about their life and the afterlife.

They feel hopeful that their existence has meant something, that there is a purpose to this mystery we call life.

I stared and thought that maybe Heaven was on the other side of those mountains.

Or that maybe Heaven is within the mountains themselves.

Sammy Sportface

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Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here: Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page
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Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:

Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out

Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page

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