Flaming Gorge/Wind River
The old Cavalier seemed a bit sluggish as I pulled out of Cheyenne. I had to put my foot down to maintain 75 MPH, which is the limit here. Thirty miles later I realize why. I see a big monument(above), pull off and realize the temperature has dropped about 20 degrees. I’ve gone from about 6500’ elevation at Cheyenne to about 8500’ just east of Laramie. The monument is at the highest point of I-80 and celebrates US 30, the first Atlantic to Pacific highway, dubbed the main street of the nation. The highway was build as a private enterprise!!! Only later did it become the role of the state to build highways.
My next stop is in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. I hadn’t planned to stop there since I’ve visited there before. But it is at the junction of I-80 and US 191, by Rock Springs, right on the way to Yellowstone. My previous visit was because Rock Springs is where I often stayed while working SW Wyoming in the oil business. By the way, I waved and smiled at the old BP Wamsutter office as I passed!
It seems to me that the park never quite lives up to the expectations of a name like Flaming Gorge, but to be fair I visited only the northern part which is convenient to me, not the southern part which is located in Utah. I have included two pictures, both taken from my campsite. The first is of some formations located just across the Green River. The second is of three deer, which have a bit of a story… I was sitting at my campsite finishing up dinner when I hear a huge thundering noise coming from behind me. I was startled, to be honest. I thought I was about to be run over by a heard of buffalo. I look up to see these 3 deer running full speed toward the Green River and within 50 feet of me. I just managed to get my camera up before they disappeared over the bank. I think they were as startled as I was.
I know you can’t make it out, but I included a picture of wild horses(Believe me, they are in the distance in this picture of scrub brush, which is typical of this part of Wyoming). Horses were native to North America until about 10,000 years ago, when they seem to have mysteriously disappeared with several other species such as the woolly mammoth. However, they were reintroduced or reappeared in the early 1700s and were captured and utilized by the Indians. Wyoming is one of the few places where there are still wild horses roaming the plains.
From there it is off to Pinedale, the jumping off place into the Wind River mountain range. There I visit with the National Forest Service and Department of the Interior for info and maps. I camped at the Trail’s End camp ground, which is at the end of the road leading into the Wind River range and hiked about 10 miles to get a picture of myself with the Wind River Range as a background, using my Photo Leki walking stick (Thanks, Earl). In the picture you can see Suicide Lake at around 8500’ elevation toward the bottom of the picture as well as the peaks of the Wind River range at around 13,700’ from my vantage point at about 10,250’. I also captured the photos of Sweeney Lake and Miller Lake(bottom of page) on the trip. All these lakes, and there are hundreds, are natural, glacial lakes, formed by glaciers back in the last ice age. As you hike, they just seem to appear out of nowhere in the backcountry. Oops, I threw in a picture of a mule deer I saw on the hike. I didn't plan to show it, since it is so bad, but I can't figure how to delete a picture once I've downloaded it.
Oh, and don’t forget the snapshot of a couple getting around by horseback, with the mountain range in the background. That is the way to get around in the backcountry, and surprisingly to me this is very common. Most of the hiking trails are shared with people on horse back.
Wind River bills itself as “Better than Yellowstone” and I have to admit they are beautiful, helped by great weather and an awesome sense of wilderness. It has been sunny and warm, although the temperature drops into the 30s at night in the mountains. Tomorrow, Thursday, I’ll be heading to Grand Teton and Yellowstone to check out the claim. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, although I heard from some folks on the trail that a front is expected tomorrow, with forecasts of snow and lows in the 20's. Of course, they had to tell me about the time when they got 3 feet of snow on August 31st, right here in the Wind River area.
Finally, a photo of sunset over the Wind River Range.
Check you later.