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June 14, 2010

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Changing Plans In Wyoming

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Don’t worry, the overall plan hasn’t changed.  It’s that on each of my first 4 days in Wyoming I haven’t ended up doing what I thought I would.

Leaving Echo Canyon (a couple hours later than I’d planned) I crossed back into Utah to follow Flaming Gorge north.  I chose to take the road on the west side which really didn’t offer than many views of a gorge.  Much of the gorge may be filled in with Flaming Lake now that there is a dam at the bottom.  I did go over another high pass with snow flurries as I eagerly awaited the descent on the other side.  It eventually arrived and I found a primitive recreation area camp on the lake.

Being the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend the camp was busy with RVs, quads, and boats.  The off and on rain probably helped keep the noise down at least.  I packed up in the morning and headed to the town of Green River, where most everything was closed.  Rock Springs is a little bigger and not far away so I tried there next.  I eventually found the visitors center with 24 hours access to the brochure section.

Nearby was a drive on public lands where wild horses roam.  It was open and free so off I went.  Midway through I saw a horse standing by the side of the road and stopped 100 yards away.  We stared at each other for a while until a car passed me and went by the the horse who only moved a little.  With that, I crept closer and we repeated our stares closer in.  You could tell the horse was used to seeing cars, but didn’t like them and was ready to bolt at any provocation.

After a while I continued on coming to a sign saying that, “while you probably haven’t seen any horses along the side of the road, they are out there.  250 of them over 392,000 acres”.  Seriously!  Are you kidding me?  250?  How many cows would cover that land?  I felt very lucky seeing the one I did and finished the U shaped loop back in Green River.

Based on one of the brochures I’d taken earlier I left there for Kemmerer (home of the first J.C. Pennys) to take a scenic backway drive the following day.  Seeing the drive started at a National Forest I planned to stay there.  Passing Lake Viva Naughton I saw free sites there and stayed.  The lake was teeming with birds!  A black swallow looking bird was all around my camp while the lake had pelicans and ducks on it.  Another gorgeous campsite.

I’d taken a scenic backway drive in 2006 that was gorgeous prompting me to go out of my way for this one.  The ride was over dirt roads crossing the Hams Fork River several times which was full of snow melt.  Entering the National Forest I crossed the river one last time and turned for Cokeville.  A mile in I began climbing finding a road muddy from snow melting on it.  I continued on a little way until snow soon covered the whole road.  Taking the route on a whim and not using it to get anywhere particular I decided to turn around and head back.

Back tracking 50 miles I turned west in Kemmerer to Fossil Butte National Monument.  A freshwater lake 50 million years ago its remains contain millions of fossilized plants, insects, birds, mammals, and fish.  Because the fossils are so extensive paleontologists are able to see exactly what species lived along  side each other.  The detail of them is exceptional as well showing individual scales of fish and even other animals inside their stomachs.

The visitor’s center is fairly small and you don’t get to see any excavations so my stay was under an hour.  I’d thought about a night in a hotel, but with rain called for the next day I decided to wait and drove to Pinedale.  Nor reason for picking that town and as I drove back and forth through it in the rain the next day I didn’t find much reason to stay either.

Off to Jackson Wyoming which is stunning.  Lush green fields butting up to steep mountains and the Hoback River roaring along side the highway.  Despite being a tourist trap and place for the rich to have a 2nd or 3rd home it still has plenty of appeal.  Sometimes cities are bigger for a reason.  Scenery alone is enough for Jackson.  Add in the Grand Teton National Park only 20 miles away and skiing in the the winer, not a bad place to be.

I camped two nights in Curtis Canyon overlooking Jackson and the National Elk Refuge.  It drizzled off and on the whole time and I never did see the mountain tops because of cloud coverage.  My time was spent researching the National Park, running errands, and writing blog updates.  The second night I treated my self to a pizza, my first of the trip, yummy!  I was even able to break camp in between rain sets the next morning as I headed to the park.

Timewise I’m looking good for getting to Alaska and having a few weeks to spend there.  I’ve fully caught up to spring and weather will start factoring into my daily and weekly schedule much more.  I would love to be on the frontside of summer instead of the back of spring, but that’s out of my hands.  All my gear is holding up well and  keeping me warm and dry so far.

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  1. Jun 16 2010

    love having gone. But for this one, I am happy you went instead of me. Oh my gosh Nicas are so obsessed with baseball! It was just timing that led you to the cockfight. I was actually very interested to read that they eat the birds who die in battle after the fights. That seems so obvious now for so many reasons, but still interesting!

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