Monday, October 15, 2012

Wind Rock

Bureau of Land Management land makes up thousands and thousands of acres of public land throughout Wyoming.
Most of it is dry, barren, dusty and sandy. 
Some of it is leased to oil companies throughout the state.  Some of it is leased to ranchers so that they can graze horses and cattle.
BLM land is located almost right outside our front door, and can be accessed on foot, on mountain bike, and by motorized vehicles less than a quarter of a mile from where we live.
I have not spent much time on BLM land since we arrived back in Wyoming in early June because during the summer BLM is home to many rattlesnakes.
It is also home to rabbits, antelope, and mountain lions.
But the snakes are what has kept me away from the land to this point.
With a restless dog and two restless adults, we on the spur-of-the-moment late yesterday afternoon drove out to the Oregon Basin.
I unexpectedly found the basin late last spring while mountain biking on BLM land. 
After finding myself in a box canyon I dropped my bike and headed on foot up a trail, fully expecting to return fairly quickly to my bike and move on.
Instead I found Oregon Basin and immediately fell in love with the place.  Instead of exploration on bike it became an unexpected adventure on foot:
About a week later LC and I drove out to Oregon Basin and we found what we came to name Wind Rock.
On a late afternoon yesterday, with the sun rapidly setting, we again headed out to Wind Rock.................
We had only been to Wind Rock once and that was last year.
As we turned off the Greybull Highway and began to slowly drive on rutted out and rocky BLM trails I soon began to wonder if we would actually find it again this late in the day.
Something didn't feel right........................
As LC continued to carefully drive rutted out double track and wider gravel roads and trails, I looked at the water and shook my head. 
I was (almost) certain that we had not been this close to water on our trip last year.
I was (almost) certain that we had been closer to the rocky cliffs that I could see to our right.
After driving in the right general direction, and after more discussion, LC and I finally did decide that we were not on the right trail.  We had missed a turnoff somewhere and needed to find a trail that moved us closer to the cliffs.
As we continued to drive I looked at the world around me.  The world was huge, the day was windy and clear, the clouds were gradually turning different shades of purple and the sun was beginning to settle lower on the horizon.
We did not have a whole lot of daylight left at all, but that fact did not seem to bother either of us.
It was just good to be there..................
This late in the day the light was rapidly changing.
We found a trail that wound us closer to the bluffs but neither of us were entirely certain just how close or how far we were from our informal destination of Wind Rock.
LC stopped the truck right in the middle of the trail because James was loudly barking, eager to walk.
Our sweet dog could barely contain both her energy and her enthusiasm.
If we did not walk her soon I thought that her boundless energy would simply explode out of her body.
She needed to move.  Her momma needed to move.
And so we moved.
Although we have had a couple of weeks of very cold temperatures, the weather has rebounded recently, and so both LC and I walked carefully, ever watchful for rattlesnakes.
As we wandered up to higher ground I looked back towards the truck, and then looked beyond the truck, truly feeling as though I could see "forever" layed out in front of me.
It was a beautiful scene.
Not the same beautiful as we see when we head into the mountains or out into the forests, but beautiful none-the-less.
We had not walked long before it became very obvious that my Mountain Boy had Wind Rock on the brain.
He wanted to find it before dark, and so we again went in search of it, driving towards a canyon in the distance..................
Traveling another short way on the same narrow double track road we again stopped in the middle of the trail, climbed out of the truck and stood looking out over quiet and endless rolling terrain.
The power lines ran the entire length of the BLM land in front of us until they eventually disappeared far in the distance and as I regarded them closely, I tried to remember whether the lines had been to the left or right of us as we stood high on top of Wind Rock last year.
I couldn't remember.
LC grabbed Jamie's leash from me and began to quickly walk up the trail.
I had assumed that they would only walk a short way before turning back again and I turned my attention to the rock walls behind me, enamored at their effortless ability to silently oversee the land.  I raised my
camera and began snapping pictures...................
LC and Jamie were walking further than I had expected them to travel, and for a few moments I watched them, surprised..................... 
And then abruptly they stopped moving.
I watched them some more, surprised and wondering, and then suddenly LC turned to face me and waved me towards him.
I grabbed my small pack, looked back at the truck briefly wondering if I should lock it up before leaving it, and then decided "no.........we're in the middle on nowhere..........there's nobody out here but us"
I started down the trail wondering what my guy and my dog had found..................
A quick, reassuring look back at the truck..................
LC and James were still hiking ahead of me and I dawdled along the trail, continuing to look around me, preoccupied now not so much with the terrain but with the light.
The rapidly fading daylight was playing beautiful tricks on everything around me.  The land, the multiple rock boulders and rock walls, even the clouds.
This simple tree, valiantly and bravely growing out of the rock, against the changing sky was very beautiful.
I snapped one quick picture of my little tree, zoomed in a little to snap one more quick picture, and then finally picked up the pace........................
LC and James had disappeared from sight.
When I heard the whistle I looked up and saw them both standing at the top of Wind Rock looking pleased with themselves.
Seeing them up there, knowing that LC had found his goal destination, both of them looking like the Kings of the Castle, made me smile....................
We're going to have to go back to this place soon, now that we have found it again, because by the time we found Wind Rock yesterday we had very little daylight left.
Little daylight meant that our visit was too quick and too superficial, and from our last visit I know that there is much to see up there.
We named this place Wind Rock because on the day we first found this place last summer it was very windy.
So windy in fact, that my ball cap flew off my head and disappeared forever, even though we searched long and hard for it.
We found out the other day that it is actually called Slick Rock.
Elder Island in Tennessee (that we named Bird Island after we unexpectedly discovered it and before we knew what its' true name was) will always just be Bird Island to us.
And so it goes with Slick Rock outside of Cody.
We discovered it unexpectedly during one exploration on BLM land last year and named it Wind Rock.  And so it will always be Wind Rock.........................
This rock is huge.
It is flat and steep, and contains wonderful things, and it is very very interesting to explore.
In the pictures it simply looks like a huge flat rock, but it has in fact been shaped by sand and wind.
The rock face contains multiple circles embedded into the surface of the rock.
The trees grow out of holes in the rock that have been moulded by wind.
Gnarly tree trunks wrap around themselves, again moulded by the wind.
Natural rock benches dot the flat rock surface.
It is a magical, natural wonder and I like this place very much.
There is so much more to see and it would have to wait for another day.....................
A final look from Wind Rock at the end of a beautiful evening.................

Give me the splendid silent sun at sunset...............Walt Whitman

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