Monday, January 7, 2013

Quiet World On BLM - Part 1

The day before LC, Jamie and I walked into the mountains out in Shoshone National Forest we spent a short while out on BLM land right behind the house.
The day - as it was the next - and then the next - was cold, clear, calm and unbelievably sunny.
A beautiful winter day.
I had walked a number of times on a trail that leads up and over the hills, and then drops down into the endless Oregon Basin.
My Mountain Boy and my dog had never taken that same walk with me.
From the house we would have taken a quarter mile walk down our road to the entrance of BLM land. 
From there we would walk down a short access trail before hitting BLM land proper.
A quick turn right, and then a quick turn left on dusty trails and we would make the long, slow and gradual climb up to the hills.
We would have done that if we had walked to the hills.
Instead we drove, slowly four wheeling our way across dust and dirt and sage and rutted out roadways, beyond the box canyon that leads to the gun range, beyond the power lines, and finally rising one more time to pull into yet one more box canyon that leads to the trail we wanted to explore.
Hardly ambitious.  But on a sunny and stunning day I was just pleased to be outside.
BLM land is an incredibly unique environment.
Different from anything I have ever encountered in my past.
When I first began to explore these public lands and thought that I would only find beige, barren, sameness.
When you stand in one place and peer out over the thousands of acres of seeming nothingness, it is easy to think that.
But once you begin to explore, to see, to encounter, you realize that it is a wonderfully special place.
From the BLM land behind the house you can see all of the major mountains and mountain ranges in the region - Heart, Carter, Rattlesnake, Cedar, Jims' (as in Jim Bridgers'), and more individual mountains.
The Absaroka Mountain range.  The Big Horns.  And likely (OK...probably) many more that I have never bothered to learn the names of.
Looking more closely you encounter all types of wild life - rattlesnakes, mountain lions, rabbits, jack rabbits, deer, antelope.
Rock formations, wild flowers, bones of all kinds, grasses and bushes and trees, and so much more.
SO much more.
As I climbed out of the truck and encouraged my sweet pup to climb out of the back seat, I looked out over the mountains.
We were literally only 15 minutes from the house.  We may as well have been a million miles from the house.
For those who wish privacy and aloness, both of those things are within an arms' reach here in Wyoming...............
The snow covered trail we were going to take.
When I first found this trail while mountain biking last summer I thought that it topped out where it appears in this picture.
Momentarily indecisive last year as to whether to pick up another trail, try to ride my bike up what is a gnarly and rutted out trail when it is not smoothed out by the snow, or simply drop my bike and hike up, I ended up hiking.
Beyond the top of this hill the trail flattens out for a short while before climbing again.
I stood looking up the hill and smiled, eager to move.
Eager to climb and climb and then look out over the vastness of the Oregon Basin...............
Looking back at the truck parked on the trail, with Cedar and Rattlesnake Mountains looming in the distance..............
The world becomes vast and entirely beautiful once you reach the pine trees and the hills................
Finally at the top I could see a small portion of the endless basin, on the back side of the hills.
To the right of the power line poles is another trail.
It is a very winding switchback-filled trail that drops steeply and continually until you find yourself down at the edge of Oregon Basin.
It was the way I had traveled last year while exploring the area on foot, and the way I thought we would travel on this day as well......................
Instead of immediately picking up the downhill trail, LC veered to the left of the poles and wandered to the very edge of the cliffs.
I watched him for a few moments as he stood at the edge of the rocks looking out over the world.
Leaving him to himself for a few minutes I waited for Jamie to do her Jamie things.
To mark, to sniff, to explore, to dig.
To just be the dog she was.
We were out there for all three of us, and I stood patiently waiting for her to be ready to move on.
The picture at the very top of this blog was taken at the gate, looking back towards Carter Mountain which is over 40 miles from Cody.
It dominates the landscape in the south - rugged, imposing, beautiful................
Eventually James and I wandered over to LC, stood beside him and also looked out over the world.
He looked down towards the trail.
He looked up the hill beside us.
He didn't want to go down to the basin.  My Mountain Boy wanted to climb.
Higher.  As high as he could get.
And so we began to climb..............
A lone, barren, and completely wind blown tree standing as lone guardian of this hill................
The wall of rock and snow that was the Big Horn Mountains (located 60 or so miles east of us) looked (as they always do) like a mirage in the distance.
Whenever we head onto BLM land close to the house I always find it difficult to reconcile scenes such as this with the fact that we are so close to civilization.
I could walk from this hill top back to the house in 30 minutes.
So quiet.  So beautiful.  So incredibly isolated.................
Pictures snapped while climbing the long and steep hill
The climbing was challenging - snow, ice, loose dirt, loose rock.
LC and I took turns watching over Jamie as we made our way up the hill.  For a moment I watched her and felt badly.  She was getting older and her hips were beginning to bother her.
After all these years I forget that sometimes.
She has followed me to so many places.  We have walked and climbed and crawled over and crawled under.  
Jamie loves adventures and explorations as much as her people do, and she has been with me for so long that sometimes I forget that the years are beginning to catch up with her.
I watched her and felt concerned.  Sometimes she hesitated when she was momentarily unsure of how to proceed on the uneven ground. 
But she eagerly followed us  Climbing up and then up some more..........
My sweet girl looking down................
My sweet girl looking up...............
LC encouraging Jamie to keep climbing.
We were almost to the top.............
The world from the top.
It was a different world.  A magical world.  A world separate and apart from the rest of the world.
I felt as though I was a part of this different and magical world, and I didn't want to leave it.
In that moment, as I stood at the top of the hill looking out over thousands and thousands of empty acres that were surrounded by endless snow covered mountain ranges, I wanted to stay exactly where I was.
Somehow the world made sense on the top of that hill and I didn't want to leave it.
I didn't want to climb back down again, and face the rest of the world that made no sense to me at all...............
I had been wandering around the hill top snapping pictures and when I turned back I regarded my Mountain Boy for a moment.
He was sitting alone on a rock.
He was also looking out over a world that could only be this quiet when sitting on top of a hill.
Maybe my King Of The Castle was feeling the same way I was..............
I love these pictures because they are extraordinary.
Not because of any photography skills I have.  Rather, because it was impossible to not see the beauty of my Mountain Boy and puppy, standing on the side of the hill, surrounded by Wyoming mountains.................

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