Fitness

Explore the mountains of Wyoming with outdoor adventurer Elise Sterck.

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Growing up in rural Wyoming, I had a very outdoorsy upbringing—the backcountry was my backyard and my mom really motivated me to have an independent spirit and love adventure. To this day, I love being able to do what I do—go on these adventures and share my experiences with my followers through social media.

Even when I’m out there exploring faraway places like Iceland’s vast mountains or Utah’s vast deserts, I still have a soft spot for Wyoming because it’s home. Having a chance to show my following its hidden gems is an experience I jumped at—and the perfect sidekick to bring along? My mom, of course. This would be our home-on-the-mountain-range moment!

Getting ready a few days before, I was “the trip mom,” making sure we had all the right gear. Since there was already snow on the ground, the most important thing for me was staying warm. I’m all about versatile, lightweight layers like The North Face ThermoBall™ jacket, which is easy to move in and keeps you comfy in wet conditions.

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My plan was a three-day backcountry camping trip to one of my favorite lakes in central Wyoming. It’s a region that still feels completely untouched and undiscovered in a very real way. This lake in particular is a shimmering oasis surrounded by huge granite walls that few find—partly because it’s an eight-mile hike in with a fair amount of elevation gain.

The morning of our hike in, we had a casual start and made it to camp just in time to get our tent set up and have hot cocoa at sunset. The valley was just as gorgeous as I remembered it—and soon the stars were out. Since it had been a long day and we were both exhausted in a good way, we turned in early.

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The next morning, the sun was our alarm clock. Outside the tent, it was a clear day, but the air was still on the numbingly cold side of crisp.  However, it was easy to forget the chill because the mountain peaks were so perfectly reflecting on the calm glassy lake like a mirror. (It also helped having warm ThermoBall™ layers to keep us toasty.)

After breakfast, we explored every nook of the valley, marveling at the fall colors and snapping pics. One of my favorite things about traveling with someone else is seeing a place through their eyes. As daylight dwindled, the last rays of sun guided us back to our tent. Mountain evenings like this allow your mind to drift far away and yet be more present.

After another chilly night in the valley—which would have been unbearable without the right gear—it was time to head back to civilization. We packed up early and, after making our way back into town a few hours later, we stopped for burgers at a local brewery. It was the best way to end a backcountry trip!

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