This fall, world-renowned ultrarunners Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote partnered with photographer Steven Gnam to run across some of the highest, wildest mountain ranges in the Lower 48, with as little gear as they could get away with. The trio left Missoula, Montana, on September 16, traveled roughly 600 miles through the northern Rocky Mountains—hoofing between 35 and 40 miles a day—and arrived in Banff, Canada, 600 miles and 24 days later. It’s called the Crown of the Continent Traverse.
Why did they do it? “We like to suffer, and to challenge ourselves physically. In the end, that's reason enough,” says Foote.
As their backyard playground, traversing these mountains was a long-held dream for the two men, who live in Missoula and train together. The expedition finally became a reality when the ultrarunners met Gnam at the debut of his photography book, Crown of the Continent: The Wildest Rockies. One year later, the trio set out.
Photo: "As a photographer I wanted to show what the trip looked and felt like, which meant I had to be part of it and not just a spectator,” says Gnam, who trained hard for the trip. But a 20-mile road section during a 50-mile day left him with debilitating shin splints that forced him to sit out the middle of the expedition. Although he was disappointed, the unplanned rest days allowed him to capture aerials from a helicopter. (He took this shot, of Wolfe and Foote atop Mount Northover in Alberta's Kananaskis Country, from the ground.)