Monday, October 29, 2012

Long Walk On BLM - Part 1

As I was making coffee this morning I looked out of the kitchen window as I always do, curious to see what the temperature was outside.
It has been very cold recently, so I was surprised to see the temperature gauge already reading 52 degrees.
Looking at the sky as I poured the water into the coffee maker I realized that it was going to be a lovely day.
It was a day to finally go for a long walk on BLM land - up into the hills - and I knew a four-legged fur ball who I was certain would want to go with me.
Jamie watched me closely as I read emails and drank coffee, and I wondered for the millionth time how she knew.
Walk-drive-go are her favorite things (next to sleeping and mooching people-food from LC while he eats) and  I had not said any of those three magical words to her, but somehow she knew.
She always knows.
After drinking some more coffee with LC after he woke up, I got geared up and ready to set out.
Jamie knew she was going on an adventure, and she watched me closely with those bright, hopeful, puppy eyes as I wandered around the house getting dressed.  She was eager to be out, eager to walk, eager to explore.
With 357 on hip and two extra speed loaders (which I thought was overkill but it made LC feel better that I was carrying them) I pulled on a fleece sweater, grabbed a water bowl for James and a couple of bottles of water, and we headed out.
I have not been for a long walk in almost seven months.  It is the longest I have not worked out since I was 12 years old when I began judo training.
And then judo and karate training.
Which many years later morphed into a love of long distance running and weight lifting and swimming.
Which eventually morphed into years training for adventure races.
After all this time I was not entirely certain how far we would get.  I was out of shape.  My aging dog was beginning to show the earliest signs of hip problems.
A few days ago LC, Jamie and I took a drive up on BLM land.
We did not get far before I asked my Mountain Boy to stop the truck for a moment so that I could take a picture of the snow on Carter Mountain.
I snapped the little camera button and.........nothing.
And that is when I realized that my camera battery was still sitting in the charger that was still plugged into the wall in the kitchen.  Damn!
We ended up exploring all new territory that day - driving a long distance and then four wheeling on rutted out and very steep hills until we reached the top of the highest one we could find.
Me all the while sorry that I could not take pictures of the beautiful place that was in front of us.
I doubted that Jamie and I would get that far on this day.  In truth if I had wanted to go that far I would not have taken Jamie because she really is beginning to slowly but surely show signs of getting older.  It would be a really long walk back with a sore and tired pup.
No matter.  We would get as far as we got.  And that would be good enough.
Jamie and I turning off the gravel road that we live on, and beginning our hike on BLM land...............
And a look back towards our home, the small community where we live only four miles outside of town, and Heart Mountain in the background................
By the time we reached this third trail we began to climb.
The trail was wide open, dusty, dry, hard packed and although it was late in the year it was again very warm, and so I was again watchful for rattlesnakes.
This trail climbed gradually but consistently and it eventually led to a major trail intersection.
It felt very good to be walking.  To be walking with my dog.  To be walking away from civilization and up into the hills that I loved so much when we were here last year..............
My sweet girl and I stopped for a few minutes at this trail intersection.
I had walked out of the house wearing lined nylon pants, a long sleeved t-shirt and a grey fleece sweater.
Within five minutes of beginning our slow and gradual walk uphill I knew that I was wearing too many clothes.
It was warm.  I was warm.  My puppy was warm.
I quickly pulled off my fleece and threw it into my pack, and then pulled out Jamie's water bowl. 
She watched me intently, knowing exactly what I was doing.
After pouring water for her I put the bowl down on the ground, kissed my sweet dog on the top of her furry head and we both drank.
Standing at the intersection while Jamie drank, I looked around me.
The trail we had been on continued straight, and headed up into the hills that I had walked many times in the past.
It quickly comes to a box canyon where a gun range has been set up, and if you walk up one of the hills beyond the canyon you eventually reach what you think is the top of the hill.
Only it's not.  There's another hill beyond that and then one more before you finally reach the very top and can finally look out over the flat and seemingly endless Oregon Basin.
I considered heading straight and quickly discounted it.
I looked down the rutted out dirt road to my left, and knew that it ends at another gravel road that leads away from BLM.
Or you can turn onto trails before the gravel road that either lead back towards the house or up into the hills near the BLM Killing Fields I found last year.
Nope.  Been there and done both many times.
We turned right and continued to move further away from home.
Jamie walked Point, as she always does, and I smiled as I watched my dog greatly enjoying the walk......................
Trail to the left................
One last look back the way we had just come............
The trail we picked up...............
Carter Mountain 30 or so miles away from us...............
The trail we were on was fairly flat and I enjoyed the brief reprieve from climbing.
I had decided where we were headed.
There would be a lot of steep climbing coming up in our future............
A zoomed in picture of one section of Carter Mountain.
Heart Mountain dominates the terrain in the north, but Carter Mountain owns the south.
The base of the mountain is located at the very end of the highway that takes you through the gorgeous Southfork - aptly named because it follows the south fork of the Shoshone River.
This mountain range is beautiful, rugged, sometimes foreboding, always covered with deer and big horn sheep and black bear and grizzly bear.
I have heard that there is a trail through the mountains that continues all the way to Jackson Hole..............
By the time we reached this point Jamie and I had been walking for about 90 minutes and we were very warm.
With the exception of two short sections of flat ground, my dog and I had been climbing steadily since we began our walk.
I knew from exploring in the past that the trail to the left close to the power lines led to a trail that eventually dropped down into Oregon Basin.
After another brief moment of indecision, I decided that we would pick up the trail on the right.
I had never been to the top of it before, and today seemed like a good day to climb to the top of a new hill.
First one more drink for both dog and woman.................
Starting to climb..................
I looked at these pictures after I had downloaded them and fully realized for the first time just how quickly everything has turned brown again.
In truth there was not a lot of green on BLM land this summer.
This summer was very hot and very dry, even by typical hot and dry Cody standards.
There are times when I miss water.  The constant water of Alaska and the easily accessible water of Tennessee.
Part way up the hill that we were climbing I pulled off the trail and stood looking out over the endless solitary acres that make up this one section of BLM land.
I could see Heart, Rattlesnake, Cedar, Carter Mountains, as well as portions of many other mountain ranges that surrounded me.
I could see the 1300 acres of scorched earth that burned too close to the house not long ago, and that was started by lightning.
There were no animals or birds, and certainly and wonderfully no people.
Me - and my dog - had the world to ourselves  At least for a while.  And that was good............
Still climbing.....................

People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.............Jim Butcher

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