Barely visible in the rugged landscape, a lone archaeologist takes the high road back to camp after a long day in the Teton Range.  Photography by Matt Stirn

Do You Love Camping in the Mountains? So Did People 11,000 Years Ago.

Barely visible in the rugged landscape, a lone archaeologist takes the high road back to camp after a long day in the Teton Range. Photography by Matt Stirn

Barely visible in the rugged landscape, a lone archaeologist takes the high road back to camp after a long day in the Teton Range. Photography by Matt Stirn

Daylight was fading in Wyoming’s remote Wind River Range, and I turned on my headlamp to look for one final piece of firewood. I was 13, on a weeklong camping trip with friends, and we had set up our tents at the edge of a vast alpine meadow at 11,500 feet. As I reached for a branch something flickered in the light—a tiny arrowhead resting in the grass. I wondered how it had gotten to such an isolated place, and then I hustled back to the campfire. I never expected that I would return to this spot, years later, and make a startling discovery.

The Wind River Range’s varied terrain, stunning vistas, and sense of isolation have long attracted backpackers, climbers, and skiers seeking a quieter and more mysterious alternative to the crowded Tetons in nearby Jackson Hole. What many don’t realize is that these peaks formed a nexus for mountain communities long before the invention of Gore-Tex, freeze-dried meals-in-a-bag, or titanium chopsticks. In fact, Native Americans began venturing high into the alpine zone and establishing camps nearly 11,000 years ago.

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