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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Stephen Braunlich
Thursday, September 12
View
Mountain man Chuck Streeper.

Mountain man Chuck Streeper.
Courtesy Bob Van Deven

View
The flag that flew over the Capital flies over our camp.

The flag that flew over the Capital flies over our camp.
Courtesy Bob Van Deven

Thursday, September 12, 2002

A great day. We began at 9:30 again and soon hit Roosevelt Meadows. Here we had a surprise encounter. As we hiked alongside groves of willows, and through the grasses, we came upon a camp occupied only by two beautiful horses, appearing to be somewhere in their mid-teens. Our location put us up above the creek, with no view of the near bank. Drawing closer to the camp, our voices carried over the edge of the embankment and a man appeared in worn blue jeans, old sweater, wire-rimmed glasses, and sporting an odd, pioneer-esque wool hat.
Turned out this odd fellow was a true to form mountain man by the name of Chuck Streeper. In 1969 he went out into the woods on a horse for a short trip – and never came back. A native Californian, he has wandered the continent for the last 33 years, needing no map, supported only by his wits and his two horses. He has been from sea to shining sea; going from California to where we won our freedom, Yorktown, VA. Until recently he would stay out year round and never return home, but due to his advancing age (going on 60) he has begun to winter in his hometown 40 miles from Clovis, CA.
Being one who never stopped living life to the fullest, and being a firm believer in lifetime education, Chuck always takes books out with him to learn about the world. While he was out this year, he was reading on the dynamics of building an airplane. He is only 20 hrs from a commercial license, and when his horses (now 24) die, he will build a WWI era bi-plane and go barnstorming. Absolutely amazing.
Just as importantly, he treats education as a valuable thing to be shared. Since he has begun wintering out the snows, he has begun giving presentations to schoolchildren. Chuck sets up a whole village of 11 tepees and teaches about the mountain men and their way of life. Kids learn about the tools of the trade, tan hides, and stay in the village for a day. He also offers lectures, and judging from out conversation, they must be enthralling.
As one can see Mr. Streeper has had an incredible impact on my own being. He is living a life that I can only dream of one day having, and perhaps one day I will. One of the most telling things that he told us, in paraphrase, the following, said while pointing at the start of a trail:
“From this point you can go anywhere in the world. The trail leads anywhere you want it to go, it’s just up to you.”
These are truly words to live by. All to frequently in this life we allow ourselves to become confined. We settle for less than we want. We take jobs that do not bring us pleasure because we place too much importance on doing what’s expected. Thanks to this I now throw out the book. From here on out I will push myself past the limits, personal and societal. Life is too short to not do something, or go somewhere, or stop too short because we do not have the confidence, or we’re told we shouldn’t.
While we did not want to leave the camp, we needed to proceed on, and so continued down the trail, guided by directions given to us by Chuck. As we continued through the fields of grass devastated by crickets, I got to singing in my terrible tone-deaf style. The trails were steep, but I felt, nay wanted, the extra challenge to my lungs. In the tradition of Venturing Crew 1519, I sang Don McLean’s “American Pie”, Sublime’s “What I Got,” and Smashmouth’s “All-Star.” Bob V joined in at points, perhaps inspired to drown me out.
Eventually we passed an old cabin where a sheepherder was staying. Here we knew we were close. The clouds were moving in, and a storm was inevitable, so we pushed on. On reaching the trailhead, we were an hour before the scheduled pick-up, and so rested our feet.
On the ride back, we drove through the beautiful Snake River Canyon. All around us the foliage was turning, and we passed through stunning fields of red, yellow and green. Around us we saw mule deer, and red-tailed hawks. Special above all was the bald eagle that we spotted soaring above the river. A majestic creature, it is the perfect sign of our great country. Drawing close to the end of the canyon, the sun set behind us. The sky burned a brilliant scarlet, more intense than anything seen prior to this moment did. It silhouetted the amazing canyon walls and local ridges.
Back in camp, Lisa Madsen and Ken Chapman, two of the people making this project happen had a beautiful dinner prepared for us. Sated, I showered and fell asleep.
for Thursday, September 12
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Stephen Braunlich
Braunlich sports the latest look in bear collar technology

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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 12
Stephen Braunlich
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Wednesday, September 11
Stephen Braunlich
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Sunday, September 8
Stephen Braunlich
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Wednesday, September 4
Stephen Braunlich
Easy Day in Yellowstone
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Tuesday, September 3
Stephen Braunlich
First Day in Yellowstone
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Monday, September 2
Stephen Braunlich
Long Hard Hike
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Monday, August 26
Stephen Braunlich
More of the same...
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Sunday, August 25
Stephen Braunlich
Bit o' Heaven
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Saturday, August 24
Stephen Braunlich
Humbug Spires
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Friday, August 23
Stephen Braunlich
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Thursday, August 22
Stephen Braunlich
A Pockmark on Progress
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Tuesday, August 13
Stephen Braunlich
Many Thanks
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Tuesday, August 13
Stephen Braunlich
Bushwacking
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Monday, August 12
Stephen Braunlich
Welcome to Aspen Grove
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Sunday, August 11
Stephen Braunlich
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Saturday, August 10
Stephen Braunlich
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Friday, August 9
Stephen Braunlich
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Thursday, August 8
Stephen Braunlich
First Posting
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Thursday, August 1
Stephen Braunlich
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Wednesday, January 9
Stephen Braunlich
Targhee Creek Continued
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