THE WIDE WEST
With a String of Twelve Packhorses in the Rocky Mountains
IN THE FILM Jeremiah Johnson, there is a moment when the trapper, standing on the crest of a high mountain, realizes that he could go either north or south, but it wouldn’t make any difference. “I’m free,” he says, “and the Rockies are a big, wild land.” As I was watching the movie, 1 decided that I, too, would travel to the Rockies one day.
With two expeditions behind me a summer canoe trip and a winter dogsled journey I felt I wanted to experience the succession of the seasons in the field. I would live in the mountains for a year or more, using whatever transportation was appropriate to the season and terrain, traveling through the Rocky Mountains from Wyoming to Alaska, a distance of 4,300 miles, along the wilderness valleys of Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon. It would take a year with a twelve-horse pack string in the warm-weather months and with two teams of sled dogs when t here was snow.
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