Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ranch In The Southfork - Part 2

In Tennessee I always took water for granted.  Same when I was in Alaska.
There was always water - streams, ponds, rivers, waterfalls, regular rainfall.
Nobody takes water for granted in Wyoming.
People fight regularly over water rights on properties.
What percentage of what well is written into property deeds and still they fight.
Irrigation canals weave their way through the entire region, providing moisture for crops.
Everywhere we travel we find green on one side of the road and only brown on the other side of the road.  A sure sign of who irrigates for crops and who uses sprinklers for lawns, and who does not.
There are homes (particularly homes for rent) that contain undrinkable water.
There are isolated homes in which residents truck water to their homes because it is the only way for them to access potable water.
Not once in either Tennessee or Alaska did I ever scan the terrain, see something green and identify that area as one containing water.  Here we do.
After traveling through large swaths of beige and dry and barren and mountainous BLM land in the Southfork we turned off the highway and were suddenly transported into an entirely different world.
As I said before, if you have enough money (or are lucky enough to have inherited property when such land was not beyond the means of so many people) you have access to water, trees, green, mountains, unspeakable beauty.
As we drove deeper into the canyon large ranches began to appear, hidden in the mountains and far from town.
Adjoining the south fork of the Shoshone River these properties contain beautiful trees, lush grasses, offshoot ponds and streams.  All the things that we took for granted in both Tennessee and Alaska.
We pulled into the driveway of the ranch that our neighbor was watching over for a few days while the full-time live-in caretakers were away.
Both LC and I had been to this place once before last summer.
Was it only last summer? 
It seems like forever ago but it was only last summer.
I climbed out of the truck, eager to wander many acres of quiet paths and woods that were surrounded by high mountains and box canyons.
It was an incredibly beautiful place and I was pleased to be there.
I promised my neighbor that I would not post pictures of the owners home or the caretakers home or the cabins on the property out of respect for their privacy.
My Mountain Boy and I walked through the caretakers house for the first time on this day and it was beautiful and everything you would imagine of a home owned by the rich.
A very large and very fancy log home, rustic furniture made of wood, huge stone fireplaces, decorations made of wood and animal furs and animal antlers, big and fancy cowboy pictures, historical photographs, antiques.  It was huge and beautiful and if this was the caretakers home I could only imagine what the owners home (which is occupied for only a couple of weeks each year) must look like.
Pictures of the fast moving and beautiful stream in back of the house....................
And a scene from their front yard.
So incredibly beautiful.
The mountains are filled with big horn sheep, grizzly and black bears, elk, mule deer and white tail deer.
There are no stores or other forms of civilization from here all the way to Cody (which is 45 minutes or more away).  Only nature and quiet and outstandingly lovely..................
Before going for a walk on the property our neighbor, LC and I took a short drive around the area, all of us completely in exploration mode. 
We saw trail heads on a regular basis (including seeing a few hunters loading down their pack horses before heading directly into the mountains) and a few ranches for sale.
One beautiful ranch that included a couple of hundred acres is on the market for $7.75 million.
The ranch we were visiting is on the market for over six million.  It was for sale when we visited last year as well, so perhaps even the very rich are not in a buying mood these days..................
Last year we spoke with a few ranch hands who worked in this same area. 
They all carry firearms and bear spray whenever they head outside during the summer, and very regularly see grizzly bears.
With three guns I think my Mountain Boy was not taking any chances.
I like this picture very much.  Quintessential LC......................
We had left Jamie in our truck during our short drive, and after we got back to the ranch I grabbed my eager mutt and we all crossed over the stream, walked through a gate and headed to the back of the property...................
I remembered from our visit last year that there multiple trails that meandered and weaved their way throughout the property.
On this particular day (and with our elderly neighbor in tow), I was not certain just how far we would get.
Regardless I was content to wander through beautiful, and I was content to enjoy either a short time or a long time out on trails.  I was content to just take the walk and the day as it came. 
All three of us were carrying firearms as we headed out..........................
Close to the river (and almost completely hidden in the tall grass) were a number of old, abandoned farm implements.
Rusty remnants of an old tractor, which over time has now turned into a wonderful piece of static art work.................
I don't know why but I like this picture.
I think that it is just the richness of the colors.
I've taken thousands of pictures over the past couple of years in three different states and have still never really figured out how to take advantage of the light.
What is the "right" light to take a picture? 
I've never paid close enough attention to my pictures to see a pattern and I've never bothered to research lighting online (although I am certain I would learn a lot if I actually took the time to read up on "photography best practices".
The right lighting in my pictures - when it happens - is still purely by accident even after all this time................
The Shoshone River.
Snowfall levels this past winter were lower than normal.
LC, Jamie and I arrived back in Wyoming in early June, and in total it has rained less than 5 minutes in Cody throughout the summer.
I started this blog talking about water and again it comes back to the fact that Wyomingites do not take water for granted.
The Shoshone is extremely low.
So low that in this section of the river it is little more than a shallow stream that slowly channels its way through the dirt of the river bed.
There is more river bed right now than there is river.....................
An old wooden wagon hidden in the grass.
More beautiful, rustic art..................
Our neighbor, LC, James and I all walked along the edge of the river for a short while before picking up one more trail that led to a small stream (and that fed back into the river).
For a few minutes I stood in place and waited as my sweet old puppy drank and then walked in the water.
It was a very sunny and very warm late summer day and I was thankful to see her drink..................
I have half-jokingly told LC for many years that it is a good think that Jamie is cute because she really serves no other useful function.
In reality that is not true.
My dog actually has very strong instincts.  When she catches the scent of something on the trail she single-mindedly follows it.  When she hears something unexpected in the woods she is instantly on the alert.  And there have been occasions during our travels when she has sensed something "out there" that we humans could neither see nor hear.
There were a few times walking on trails in Alaska when we knew (because of her actions and reactions) that there was something potentially dangerous out there in the woods.
She was with me on the Boy Scout Trails in Juneau when she growled quietly a couple of different times to alert me and I knew it was time to get out of there.
LC was with me on a trail when Jamie stopped walking, looked up, dropped her head, and then suddenly and unexpectedly hurried behind us.   She was very scared. 
Jamie was (and is) Point Dog.  She always wants to walk point.  Always wants to be in front.  Even when she stops to sniff or mark or explore, she always quickly runs back to the front of the pack to lead the way for us.  She can't stand anyone being in front of her.
So when she cowered to the back of the line LC and I both knew that we also needed to be on alert.  There was definitely something out there.
There have been other times in the past when we have ventured out into nature and when our sweet girl has alerted us to potential trouble.
While walking out at the ranch in the Southfork I hung back behind our neighbor and LC, snapping pictures continually as I hung onto Jamie.
Suddenly she stopped walking and was instantly and intently focused on something in the woods to our right.
I looked to my right as was startled by sudden movement in the woods.
I saw the white tail just before he disappeared into the deep growth.  A deer.
Big sigh of relief, a pat on top of her furry head and a "good girl!" and we continued on with our walk..........
OK............I promised not to post buildings, but there were a few outbuildings, barns and sheds located in back of the property and I decided to show some of them.................
One more stream access.  One more drink..................
This place was really unbelievable.
It had wonderful homes, wonderful cabins, access to streams and rivers, trees and trails and mountain views.
All three of us were having a really nice time.  My neighbor greatly welcomed the company.  LC and I greatly welcomed the opportunity to walk and wander in such a beautiful place.  Jamie was just her happy, joyful dog-self.
We stopped briefly at this place that contained picnic tables and a fire pit.
A chance to sit and rest before continuing further.....................

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