Thursday, May 26, 2011

BLM Killing Fields

Yesterday morning before we drove out to the South Fork where I took the pictures of fields filled with dark green grass and bright yellow dandelions, my Mountain Boy and my dog and I all went for a walk on BLM land.
The very first time I went for a long walk with my Mountain Boy was in the Big South Fork State Park in middle Tennessee.
I did not know him well - we had only met each other once before in Chattanooga.
I knew only a little about his background, the injuries he sustained on the job as a law enforcement officer, his life before he was a cop and his life since that time.
In fact I did not know very much about him at all but we went camping together for the weekend.
It was late March and freezing cold and the campground was almost empty.
Nobody wanted to camp on such a cold weekend but when LC asked me where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do camping was the answer.
And so we camped.  
We camped in the freezing campground and hiked on the freezing trails and took pictures of frozen waterfalls and talked.
Talked a lot.
Talked while we were walking during the day.  
Talked while we sat in front of the raging camp fire at night.
Neither one of us was used to talking.
Neither one of us was used to trusting.
But from the moment we met I intuitively knew that despite what I had told myself beforehand he was not going to be just a casual acquaintance...........
Although there is limited water found on BLM land it is beginning to take on the look of an exciting and growing place.
It is not like the lush green fields that are now being extensively irrigated but small and fragile wildflowers, new sage brush, lots of new prairie grass - all are beginning to show themselves.
I say "beginning" with the knowledge that in a few days it will be June.
Late Spring at this elevation and on high desert in unlike anything I have ever experienced before.
Yesterday when I took these pictures it was cool and very cloudy.
By afternoon yesterday it was cool and partially sunny.
Today it was sunny but the strong westerly winds were very cold.
The East Gate of Yellowstone is still only open for a few hours each day because of the constant presence of avalanches - both actual and severe threats of.
On Memorial Day they are calling for a combination of rain and snow here in Cody.
We continue to love this place...........
A month after mine and LC's first camping trip in March we saw each other again a month later and decided to go camping again.
We both figured that by April the weather would be warmer.
Unbelievably it was even colder in April than the weekend we had camped in March.
We set up the tent on that Friday evening and drove into a neighboring town to grab some dinner.
LC suddenly started to laugh.  When I asked him what was so funny he told me to look out the window.
It was snowing.
We ended up renting a cabin for the weekend and tearing the unused tent down on the Sunday afternoon before heading in separate directions............
Interspersed throughout this blog post are pictures of the signs of new growth throughout the plains of BLM land...........
LC was talking about Jamie today and what her life has been like this past year and a half.
She has traveled by truck across the entire United States from Tennessee to Alaska, spent much time on ferries, traveled by truck from Alaska to Wyoming, spent many nights in hotel rooms, moved from her very familiar home in Tennessee to houses in Juneau and now Cody, and seen animals that she has never ever seen before.
For a dog who does not understand the where and why of decisions that her people have made she has remained a remarkably tolerant, sweet and well adjusted girl...........
We followed multiple dirt trails on flat land that eventually leads up into high hills.
We still had to go to town, I wanted to take some pictures of fields in the South Fork right outside of town, and I still needed to run, so we did not want to make this a long and epic exploration 
The plan was to walk up to the top of the first rise..........
LC stopped about half way up the hill to talk to someone on the phone and Jamie and I slowly continued walking further up the rise.
Her sticking her nose in the middle of every sage bush she came across and me taking pictures as we walked together...........
I pulled off the trail when I saw this.
In the short time I have been in Wyoming I have come to realize that these kinds of sights are very common.
I see a deer or antelope carcass or bones almost every time I travel out to BLM land.
I took this picture and moved further up the hill drawn to the pine trees and what I knew would be beautiful vistas........
When James and I arrived at the top of the ridge the first thing I saw was this..........
Climbing onto the rocks close to the edge of the ridge I looked down and saw this........
After taking a picture of the rib cage I looked more closely down into the small valley and realized that there was not just the remains of one dead animal in the area.
I could see three carcasses, a couple of other rib cages, spines, long bones, remnants of other full bones and bone fragments scattered over a wide area both down in the valley and around me up on the rocks.
What the hell WAS this??
I was mesmerized by my unexpected and disturbing find.
We had both seen cougar tracks during previous hikes in the high and rocky hills.
Did the cougar bring his kills here?
Or was it hunters?
I didn't know but it was disturbing finding this killing field of multiple remains of dead animals...........
After LC finally joined us at the top of the ridge I showed him what I had found and he came to the same conclusions that I had - human or cougar.
Too many questions and no real answers and we looked down over this sight for quite a while trying to make sense of what we were seeing.
No matter human or animal.
I resolved that I would not ever travel into the hills or mountains without a firearm...........
Running on day three - somewhere in the middle of my shuffling/running my body began to remember how to pace.
Somewhere in the middle of my shuffling/running a message finally moved from my screaming thighs and screaming lungs and traveled to my brain imploring it to remember what this thing called running is all about.
There was the slightest hint of remembering.
Running still hates me.  I still hate running.  But we looked each other square in the eye today........

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.
It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up you'd better be running.......Author Unknown

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