Friday, August 26, 2011

On Rattlesnake Mountain - Part 2

This mountain was most definitely not the same as the two other mountains that I had topped since finding my way to Wyoming.
The double track and changeable trail slash road that we had been following for a couple of hours wound its way through one open grassland pasture after another.
The views changed constantly and the mountain ranges that surround Cody were visible in every direction.
Even though we were close to 9,000 feet we could see mountains in the distance that were even higher, some of them still touched with snow even in late August.
Tiny and multi-colored and hardy wildflowers were visible in the green grass - still abundant at this elevation even when they had long since disappeared at lower elevations.
The only things missing were water (small mountain lakes or rivers or waterfalls) and animal life.
During our entire trip yesterday we saw no bear, no deer, no elk or antelope.  Only a few small marmots and one very busy hawk.
The road seemed to be never ending but we were both certain of the direction we had been heading and felt sure that this road would eventually pop us out onto Chief Joseph Highway.
I realized after I downloaded pictures that all of my "road pictures" make the road slash trail look easy to navigate.
In truth it was not much of the time.
Much of it was like the picture below where it was easy-to-drive and flat and where it meandered and wandered through beautiful grassy pasture land.
But much of it also included very steep 3mph inclines and downhills, very rocky sections that we had to carefully navigate and cross our fingers for no blown tires, and deep rutted out areas where previous explorers had passed through too quickly.
As we continued we spoke often of getting a beater vehicle - something with 4x4, something mechanically sound and with good tires, something we would not cry over if it got badly scratched or dented.
Yesterday was a very good test for our new/old Ford but neither one of us want to do it again.
Thankfully my Mountain Boy has a lot of experience four wheeling.
I do not have a lot of experience doing such things but it was big fun..............
After passing no vehicles and seeing no people at all for a few hours we were both surprised to see this hiker off in the distance close to a small pond.
He was alone, seemed to be wandering away from the pond and then back and then away again, and we both hoped that in grizzly bear country he had a powerful firearm with him.
He watched us drive by and did not appear to be in any distress, and so we continued on............
Looking across at the top of Heart Mountain............
Pictures taken as I was returning to the truck after closing up the third cattle gate we passed through in our travels...............
There is something indescribably wonderful about being in the mountains.
I wrote about it while in Juneau and have felt it also since arriving in Wyoming.
I could take pictures all day long of beautiful mountain scenes, but there is a special feeling about wandering and picture taking and standing in a place high in the sky where there are no other people (well........OK.........except for one random and unexpected hiker).
This place was as quiet and open and expansive and rugged and beautiful as I had ever seen.
An isolated place in an isolated state.
I loved it.  I wished to walk it.  I didn't want to leave it.............
LC on reconnaissance.
Climbing a hill to scope out the trail up ahead that had gotten increasingly rocky, increasingly dicey, and looked up ahead to peter out.
Surely not..............
It did peter out.
And don't call me Shirley.................

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