Monday, January 28, 2013

Southfork Trip - Part 1

The writers block continues.  I am beginning to wonder if it will be a permanent condition.
Of course, I suppose only writers get writers block.  Not hackers on a blog.  But finding words is becoming a chore that takes more energy than I have sometimes............

Even though the weather forecast surprisingly called for rain, my Mountain Boy, my dog and I decided to go for a drive out the Southfork.
The Southfork is an area about 48 miles long.  A winding two lane highway that heads south out of Cody, travels beyond the back side of Buffalo Bill Reservoir, wanders through first small subdivisions and then increasingly large rural properties.
l0 miles from Cody the homes end. 
You find yourself in one more section of the Shoshone National Forest, which doesn't feel like a forest at all because it has no trees.
Then huge and wildly expensive professional ranches that contain millionaire owners, full staffs (some seasonal and some full time), and hired help that makes weekly runs into town for supplies.
Once you pass all of that you again pass through a section of the Shoshone National Forest.
Only this time it contains trees and campgrounds and actually feels like the forests that both LC and I are used to.
48 miles from Cody the road simply dead-ends at the foot of the mountains.
The one and only time we have traveled to the end of the road was when we were in Wyoming last year.
It was in late winter or early spring, and on that day (just as on this day) we simply wanted to drive until we found nobody. 
We hoped to see big horn sheep this year because we had seen them last year and knew that this area was another one of their winter feeding areas.  The other is along the highway heading west towards Yellowstone National Park.
We didn't see sheep yesterday.  Not even one.
But we saw incredible beauty and had the quiet and peaceful trip that we both needed.
Stopping briefly at a pull-off along the way I stood looking out over a sky that was incredibly socked in.
We had left Cody in partially cloudy skies but it was obvious that rain or snow, whatever was heading our way was moving quickly.
I knew from previous trips out this way that there were endless mountains in view from this pull off.
Yesterday some were barely visible.  Some had just completely disappeared.
Lost in the greyness of the day.
Shoshone National Forest land.  No trees.  Plenty of hills.  Home to where "the deer and the antelope play".
Parts of Wyoming look so strange to me, even now and even after we have become accustomed to the terrain.
Sometimes I look out over wide swaths of bare Wyoming land and wonder if this is what Tennessee would look like without all the trees that it has.
I suppose that it would.  The land would look naked and unfinished, just as this always seems to look to me.
When I saw it for the first time I thought that it was the ugliest terrain I had ever seen.
After seeing the land up close on foot and on mountain bike, and after seeing it from a distance while standing on hill tops, I realize now that bad-land Wyoming has an unexpected beauty that grows on you...............
If you click on any of the pictures they will start a slide show of enlarged pictures.
Between the grey day we had yesterday, and the beige world that Wyoming is now, it is difficult to know what you are looking at without enlarging.
The water level is very low, but this is part of the south fork of the Shoshone River.
On the opposite side of the river is a small handful of isolated homes.
I would love to live just this far out of town.  Far too much money............
When I saw this herd of cattle I asked LC to pull the truck over to the side of the road so that I could take pictures of them.
It wasn't so much the cattle that caught my attention.
Rather, it was the fact that both deer and cows were grazing together.
I watched them for a few moments before snapping pictures of them, and smiled because I liked the peacefulness of them feeding so comfortably together.................
Less than five minutes further down what was now an almost completely empty highway I asked to stop again.
We had seen them at the same time, and LC was already looking for a place to pull over.
A large herd of elk..................
Just a week and a half ago we had so much snow in Cody.
Likely there was even more in the Southfork.
Now most of it was gone, with only remnants of our previous weather still visible in the crevices of the mountains behind the elk.
I had never seen an elk before moving to Wyoming.  They are very large, very healthy looking, almost (but not quite) as skittish as antelope and mule deer.  Always watchful.
One raised his head, and even though we were 100 yards or more away from each other and I made no sudden movements, he continued to suspiciously watch me while the remainder of the herd grazed.
The guardian of the herd................
I like this picture.
Something about the wildness of the mountains, the unkempt look of the dormant and leafless tress, the uniformity of the old wooden wall.
Even the grey and beige of the world.
Not a pretty sunshiny winter outdoor picture.
Just something........
The further south we drove the more the air temperature seemed to be dropping.
I had not checked the weather report before leaving the house but had checked it the day before.
It was supposed to rain on this day. The next two days it was supposed to snow.
The air was very heavy and it was getting colder, and as I stood taking this picture and looking deep into what would be beautiful mountains in the sunshine but were now ominous looking mountains in the fog, I wondered exactly what the weather was going to do.
The wondering was only superficial though. Just a random didn't-really-care-about-the-answer, superficial thought.
Ever since living in Juneau Alaska (where overcast days and rain and fog were the norm rather than the occasional) I have found beauty in this kind of weather.
I looked out at grey and ominous, and I thought it looked beautiful...............
If you feel like playing Where's Waldo, try to find the deer in this picture................
By this stage in our drive we were only five miles or so from the end of the road.
There were no more homes.  No other real signs of civilization.
We had seen deer and elk and cattle during our trip out, but were both consciously aware of the fact that the first few flakes of snow were beginning to fall.
We turned and smiled at each other.
My sweet and beautiful old dog, who I have had for 12 years now, had finally settled into the drive after taking a few brief walks and pee breaks along the way.  LC and I were content to be out there.
Even grey.  Even brown.  It was still a very special place to be and we were both glad to be there.
Paved road ended and gravel road began.  As we knew it would..............
Crossing over a narrow bridge that spans what is now an almost dry creek.
Views of the rugged canyon behind it...............
As the snow continued to fall and stick to the ground, we began our second drive through the Shoshone National Forest................
The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.........Terri Guillemets

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