Pick Your Path

Through Unnamed Hills and Outcrops

Story and Photos by Troy Tetreault

Hundreds of cattle mooed in unison a thousand feet below me. Rounded up by their ranchers, they spread like an alluvial fan across the Garden Creek Gap in southeastern Idaho. I was on my first foray of the day, to Old Tom Mountain, which stood behind a couple of false summits guarded by cacti and insecure talus. I needed to reach the top before I descended back to the gap for an evening of climbing with my friends—a tough ask, given the terrain. 

It’s odd for me to envision myself, a New Yorker, working his way up an untrailed Idaho ridge in September 2021, surrounded by sage and several hundred cattle, but in hindsight I’ve come to appreciate how I got there. I can now split my recreational pursuits during that time in graduate school at Idaho State University into two distinct parts: before and after getting into rock climbing. I look fondly on the climbing I did in the state, but it was the moments I spent outdoors before these treks that served as the foundation for my appreciation of all things Idaho.

Coming from upstate New York to live in Pocatello, I was immediately interested in places like the Tetons, trips to Salt Lake City, and closer-to-home forays to the City of Rocks and Craters of the Moon, all of which I sought out for solo adventures. Running down the main road at the City of Rocks, catching the setting sun on the Snake River Plain at Craters, and getting into some of the highest peaks of the Teton Range were among instant memories I made.

Yet I quickly realized that while it was fun and fruitful to go into full-on adventure mode during the weekends, something was missing. Something I had in my home mountains in the Adirondacks: a sense of belonging.

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Troy Tetreault

About Troy Tetreault

Troy Tetreault earned a masters in biology at Idaho State University, where he investigated alpine plant-pollinator community change in the face of climate change. He now lives and works in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. You can follow his climbing, backpacking, hiking, and other adventures on Instagram @troyhikes.

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