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CCH employees encourage folks to fall in love with the Great Outdoors

CCH employees encourage folks to fall in love with the Great Outdoors

Looking to enjoy the great outdoors while pushing yourself to take on new challenges? If you’re up for it, consider checking out the Solitude Trail with Campbell County Health Cyber Security Expert Navar Holmes.

Constructed in 1920, this loop of mostly wilderness in the Bighorn Mountains spans some 60 miles through the Cloud Peak Wilderness. Navar has been hiking the Solitude Loop trail for 22 years and during that time he has done the whole loop 11 times—usually heading out the last week in July and early August to spend four to 16 days on the trail. The first time he was on the trail he completed it in four days! Several other CCH employees have joined him as well including John Arnold, Tony Chambers, Cassidy Hunt and his two sons, Ed Matuska and his two sons, and Robert Quintana and his boy scout group.

The trail winds its way by many well-known destinations in the Bighorns including Lake Geneva, Mistymoon Lake, Lake Solitude and the bases of Cloud Peak and Bomber Mountain.

Solitude Trail in the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

“The Solitude Trail still offers something every time I go out there,” says Navar. “On the trial, you move in and out high traffic areas—so sometimes you see people, and other times, you don’t. But, I’ve ran into people from all over the world – Europe, South America, United Kingdom, and Canada to name a few.”

Navar also explains that he likes how different parts of the trail are structured differently. He explained that when you come up Geneva Pass, hikes can come across old mining structures and shafts, and while passing the Crater Lake area, you are traversing on summer hunting lands that of Native Americans. And, as you come around the east side of the mountain (near Buffalo, Wyoming), there’s pockets of old pine trees that are three feet in diameter that seem like they could be 150-200 years old.

Solitude Trail in the Bighorn Mountains

“For me, being on a trail gives me a feeling of what it was like long ago, and it helps me appreciate the advances and lifestyles that we lead now-a-days,” says Navar.

Navar enjoys helping people fall in love with hiking mountains and trails, and every year invites those able to join him and a friend, Matt Westkott a long-time hiking buddy, on their trek. He urges everyone to get out and hike some short trips, as there are several trips in the Bighorn Mountains and National Forest for beginners through advanced—find information here https://www.fs.usda.gov/bighorn. He also encourages folks who already enjoy hiking to talk about their experiences with others, and offer to take folks out for hikes with them—after all, everything is more fun with friends.

“Do it while you can!” he says. “Often, when you hike with friends who already enjoy hiking, you can help share the load, and perhaps save some money.”

Solitude Trail with Navar Holmes in the Bighorn Mountains

Navar says spending three to four days on the trail is doable with preparation for a novice hiker, while doing the entire trail is great for more seasoned hikers. Popular entry and exit points on the trail include Hunter, Battle Park, Coffeen Park and West Tensleep trailheads—Coffeen Park being the closest to the loop, which requires less back tracking.

This year, Navar plans to hit the trail starting July 27 for 10 days. If you’re interested in joining Navar, email him at navar.hiking@gmail.com.

For more information, be sure to check out the following articles:

Want to know more about the Solitude Trail?
To learn more about the Solitude Trail, contact the Bighorn National Forest offices in Sheridan, 307-674-2600, or Buffalo, 307-684-7806. The offices have maps of the area and can point you in the right direction. Hikers are required to register with the forest to enter the Cloud Peak Wilderness. US Forest Service officials also emphasize the importance of practicing Leave No Trace Principles to maintain the wilderness—learn more at www.lnt.org.

Solitude Trail with Navar Holmes in the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

Photo 1: Navar above Lake Geneva
Photo 2: Matt, Navar, Tony camped at Highland Park
Photo 3: John, Navar, Greg on top of Black Tooth Mountain
Photo 4: From Highland Park looking right to left: Far right is Exit Pass, Black Tooth Mountain (13,005 Feet), Mt Woolsey (12,978 Feet), The Innominate (12,761 Feet), Saw tooth canyon with Cloud Peak (13, 167 Feet) in the back ground which is the second highest in Wyoming and Far left is Penrose Peak (12,460 Feet)
Photo 5: Dillon Matuska at Powell Lakes Falls