Total Miles: 1794.1
The first time I saw the grassy hillsides sloping upward into dark green forest, I was 24. Hours earlier on the same cross country drive that moved me to Seattle, the flatland plains of the Midwest had stretched impossibly far into the distance, away from either side of my car as it zoomed down the interstate loaded with every one of my worldly belongings.
When I exited off the highway and passed through the first small town in Wyoming, it was the width of the streets that first struck me. It seemed wide enough for a tractor trailer to turnaround in, right there in the middle of Main Street. Beyond the timid row of old west storefronts, the golden grassland began to roll into increasingly larger hills that we soon were driving between. Around the bend, a herd of cattle had taken over the road and seemed in no hurry to relinquish it. I’d never seen free-ranging cattle in my life before then, and it seemed to complete the picture: this was the West.
That memory is indelibly linked to my impression of Wyoming, and having now walked across the entirety of the state, I can say that it’s not an unfair depiction. Like much of the mountain west, it’s characterized most by its vast open spaces, its mountains, and its omnipresent cattle.
Having left the trail yesterday only 20 miles away from the border of Colorado, today was a procession through the memories of the past several weeks as we saw some of the best that Wyoming had to offer—the Great Divide Basin, Yellowstone, and the Wind River Range most of all. And in spite of the Labor Day weekend snowstorm and the epic piles of blowdown that it left in its wake, they will merely be footnotes to the story of this portion of our hike.
When we reached a tree with a Colorado and a Wyoming license plate tacked one above the other, our time in Wyoming had officially come to an end. It seemed a fitting place to cook dinner, with part of us in one state and part in the other.
As the sun dipped further on the horizon, the sunny but cool day began to feel decidedly like the autumn day that it was. The crispness in the air a reminder that winter will soon arrive to these mountains, and that we are likely the last to pass through here before a blanket of snow begins to build that will last well into early summer of next year.
So long, Wyoming. Hello again, Colorado.