cloud peak Newsletter
Fall Tidings, 2019
It is hard to believe it, but fall is upon us - bringing with it fuzzy mules and a fresh fall buck here and there to beckon in the changing season and to keep dozing riders on their toes. We at Cloud Peak Expeditions have welcomed the change of pace from a full-tilt galloping summer into a more leisurely autumnal trot and are taking the opportunity to take stock of the many gifts this summer brought.
First, it is with a wild mountain yip that I express my deep and sincere gratitude to all those who took a giant leap of faith into the saddle and rode into the hills with us this summer. What a joy to have come to know each of you and to witness the magic of the mountains together. Each river dip, lake plunge, meadow trot, or mosquito musing left tracks all over my heart and will inform the ways in which this mule-loving and mountain-minding dream will continue to unfold in the years to come. Your presence, spirit, curiosity, and love for wild things have impacted me in profound and abiding ways.
We ran five successful trips this summer, each of which was my favorite. Though the themes were varied - Creative Writing, Women’s Empowerment, Backcountry Baking (and burning), and Advanced Wilderness Skills - Pearl the mule’s shameless trail-lunch-thievery was a constant in each—as were the earnest conversations about how to do good by this wild world.
The gifts of the mountains, and the brightness of being they inspire, is perhaps best articulated by the intrepid souls who were brave enough to show up with such inspiring authenticity and grace:
“I could not have ever imagined how the trip would truly turn my life around. Having to trust myself and my body, learning how to care for my mule, the outrageous beauty of the Big Horns, and the bravery and tenderness of the other women all collided into an experience I'll never forget. I laughed until I cried, I shared pieces of my heart I couldn't even articulate before, and I learned to appreciate the natural world and take responsibility for my role in it. I returned home with a much needed perspective shift and some new lifelong friends. It's not an exaggeration when I say, every day I'm reminded of lessons I learned loping through the meadow, tacking my horse, jumping into ice cold water, or sitting around the fire swapping secrets.” –Sammi L., Womxn in the Wilderness Expedition, 2019
"Learning how to cinch a saddle and hitch a pack onto a mule in a grove of pines, or piercing through a creative essay in a meadow of swaying grasses surrounded by grazing horses made the lessons of this trip some of the most meaningful learning experiences of my lifetime. Getting to live, wake, work, travel, problem-solve, and sleep amongst horses in wild spaces makes it possible to gain rapid literacy in complex skillsets that are otherwise inaccessible. Cloud Peak Expeditions is not only a capable, well-established and high-quality outfitter, an incredible experiential outdoor classroom, and an environmental stewardship program, it is also a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in unique harmony amongst powerful animals in stunning wilderness spaces with the insightful and open guidance of a trusted leadership team. As a participant, you will be challenged, you will be seen, you will grow. You will learn more than you could ever anticipate. You will have incomprehensibly beautiful moments that you will cherish for a lifetime. And. You. Will. Have. So. Much. Fun.” -Hannah B., Writing in the Wilderness Expedition, 2019
A founding goal behind Cloud Peak is to ground both our thinking and our actions in an ethic of reciprocity. The lessons in humility, awe, and wonder the mountains offer us are incalculable. How are we giving back to these wild places and beings that give us so much? Once we begin to foster a sense of belonging in wild places, how are we taking care of the home it offers us?
As part of our effort to honor these questions, we are pleased to donate a portion of our profits to local conservation efforts. In addition, the Cloud Peak family answered our call and bolstered our efforts—one of our trip participants went so far as to fundraise for local conservation organizations for her birthday. What’s more, a generous donor and lover-of-all-things-wild has matched our efforts and doubled our impact. A powerful reminder that our individual actions can result in a substantial collective impact. This year, we are excited to make a donation in the amount of $1,262.00 to Sheridan Lands Trust, an outstanding nonprofit that works tirelessly to protect and restore the wilds of the Big Horns. Our contribution will help support current initiatives to complete conservation easements, build multi-use trails, and fund research about the Northern Big Horn Mule Deer Migration. Pearl is very excited about the forthcoming certificate that will welcome Cloud Peak Expeditions as the newest member of Sheridan Land Trust's Visionary Circle. She told me to hang it on the gate.
And, finally, we are beyond excited (like really and truly giddy) to welcome the following mares into our now all-female-herd: Belle, B, and a little four-year-old sun-loving mustang filly. We think we’ll name her Parsnip. Or maybe Lobster. Time will tell.
As I write, flocks of sandhill cranes are making their strange haunting call as they stitch together gathering storm clouds on their long journey South. The aspens are putting on their brightest displays, beckoning us to bask in the last broth of sun before the season turns in earnest. I am looking forward to coming days spent by the fire dreaming and plotting for next season’s mountain encounters full of equal parts reverie and revelry.
It took 40 hooves, 11 tails, 48 hands, and countless more hearts to make Cloud Peak Expedition’s first official season meaningful, joyous, hilarious, and fun. An enormous and heartfelt thanks to each.
Happy fall and happy trails,
Founder, Cloud Peak Expeditions