Wind River Mountain Festival
by Terry Allen
July 27, 2016
The First Annual Wind River Mountain Festival held on July 22 Ė 24 in Pinedale, Wyoming celebrated our area as Gateway Community for the Continental Divide Trail. The Gateway gives access to 19 of the highest peaks in Wyoming, over 180 glaciers, over 3000 lakes, the headwaters of the Green River and over a half million acres of a federally-designated wilderness.
Laura and Josh Hattan of the Great Outdoor Shop in Pinedale worked with dozens of unpaid volunteers, community organizations, and over 53 sponsors to make this event a resounding success. Food, drink, music, wilderness skills demonstrations, educational presentations, and specialized outdoor product vendors created a full schedule for the four day event.
Cameron Ashley, who worked the brat booth with his brother David, has made festivals and fairs a lifestyle. "Iíve been living on the road for a year and a half," he said.
Ryan the Pirate stood in front of me with a patch over his left eye and silently asked me to take his picture. "I lost it to a shark," he said. A while later Ryan stood in front of me with the same pirate grin but with the patch over the right eye. "Iíve been drinking Ginger beer," he said, as if that made things more clear.
Nate Lloyd representing The Special Olympics was helping Maddox get set on his bike. "Now that biking is in the Olympics, we have a sport in all four seasons," he said. "There will be a cycling event here in Pinedale this fall." Maddox said his goal was to get good enough to take the training wheels off.
Tate Johnson walked around the festival with a strange pack on his back that seemed 20 feet high. "It is a tool to help packers understand the value of packing smaller and lighter," he said. "They put on this pack, navigate this obstacle course and they get the message pretty quick that a heavy pack can wear you out and cause accidents."
Jack Henry of Pinedale makes some pretty nice knives. "About a year ago I decided to make my own knife," he said. "I found a piece of mild steel in my basement. I drew a sketch and made my first one."
I went by Matt Davidís booth to see if a Buffalo burger looked any different than beef and I wondered where he gets it. "Weíve got a guy up north that poaches them for us," he said. "I spend a winter testing the bourbon that goes into my Sweet Bourbon Glaze."
Connor Baily and his friends spent at least a couple days submerged in the creek grabbing Bullheads. "We get paid one dollar each," he said. "Fisherman like to use them in the winter for ice fishing, so we freeze them."
The Watermelon camping crowd, called Camp Grow, came from all over. Vermont, Utah, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Lander, Jackson and West Virginia. Wyatt Morris said that the melons in Alabama are between 50 and 60 pounds and are waaay sweeter than what we get in Wyoming.
Wilderness Ranger, Blaine was setting up a log for a young man to saw. "There are no wheeled or motorized equipment allowed in the wilderness," he said. "It has been that way since The Wilderness Act was passed in 1964."
The National Outdoor Leadership School had a booth set up and explained their purpose." We mostly cater to the 16 to 23 age group," he said. "A large part of our efforts are in conservation education."
Early Sunday morning on the final day of the festival, trail runners and hikers met at the amphitheater to go up to Sacred Rim and Photographers Point, take-down crews packed up festival tents, a couple dozen yoga athletes stretched in the sun, Sierra Hattan waded the shallows of a little Pine Creek backwater looking for minnows, a man from Amarillo, Texas fly-fished a deep pool, and Pinedale returned to nature.
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