I am deep deep in the backcountry. At least that is how I feel. I am sitting on the shore of the last of the Born Lakes, a solid white rock wall reflecting sunlight on my face. Really, I am only about an hour or so run from the trailhead. But something about this place, about the White Clouds in general, feels so remote, so wild that all you need to do is go a couple miles in and you are a hundred miles away from it all.
It may be the fact that the trailheads are, themselves, remote. To get back in the White Clouds takes a bit of commitment. Coming from Stanley, I wait until I have an entire day to point my wanderings towards those peaks. Still, it is something more than that. It is the high alpine crumbling rock and the clear cold lakes. It is the tall, rugged peaks, so bare that the story of their formation is exposed in layers and curling patterns all the way up their side. And it is the stillness.
The White Clouds possess a stillness of another time, a stillness that has been around for years –created naturally and protected under the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. So that now I can go on a run in the stunning White Cloud Mountains and see no one. Only pebbles and dirt and clear moving water. Only small flowers and glittering pines and flitting birds. I can shuffle to the top of a ridge, look down on Ants Basin and see delicate marshy grass, shallow lakes, and a single clean trail.
Now, sitting at Born lake, letting the sweat on my brow dry before the beautiful traverse back and the up and over to my car, I reflect on how lucky I am to live where I live. To live in a place surrounded by uncompromised beauty. A day like today reminds me of this and I am grateful.