|I'm on a boat! And I'm not impressed.|
“Ah, fuck it,” we thought. It will be great to have the extra food and gear. Plus, the mules would be our porters for the first 12 miles. Then we were loading it all into a raft to cross Cloud Peak Reservoir. After that, it would only be a few more miles and a few thousand vertical feet to our planned base camp. Carrying loads would be necessary, but we had enough time to make it work. Our goal was to climb a new route on Cloud Peak, the highest point in the Bighorn Mountains of northern Wyoming. We didn't know what we would need, so we brought it all.
After a nice long hike, burdened only by our own body weight, we piled all of our gear and three adult males into a tiny inflatable. While the small motor was being gassed up and primed by our guide, I noticed the fine print on the side of the raft: “Weight limit 600 lbs.” The motor sputtered to life and we shoved off so quickly, I didn’t have time to protest. I felt the water as we motored along and quickly realized there wouldn’t be time to salvage any of our gear if we sank. The desperately cold lake would swallow our gear, along with our dreams. The agonizingly slow speed of the raft gave me plenty of time to think about it. Instead of propelling the craft forward across the water, most of the motor’s energy was driving the front of the raft downwards. In our haste to depart, we had loaded well north of 300 pounds into the bow. Our guide wasn't exactly the nautical type, but that dusty cowboy did one hell of a job manning the motor to keep us from diving like a submarine. I could tell he was also worried about sinking, since swimming in painted-on Wranglers and a Stetson wouldn’t be easy. None of it seemed to bother Spencer. He spent the whole ride snapping pictures and making small talk.