Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Picnic In Oregon Basin - Part 1

On a very hot and very dry Sunday a couple of weekends ago we left Jamie in the coolness of the house (much to her disappointment and whining disdain), packed a lunch of sandwiches, cookies and watermelon, grabbed the bows and headed towards the Oregon Basin.
By road the basin is about a 20 minute drive from the house.
By foot it would take well over an hour to walk - from the house, across BLM land to the hills in back, and the Oregon Basin is on the other side of the hills.
The basin is a huge, seemingly endless expanse of flat BLM land.
You can barely see oil company buildings (beige to blend seamlessly with the terrain) in the far distance.
Along large sections of the perimeter of the basin are wonderfully interesting rock formations, small and rugged pine trees that have grown into tortured shapes because of the strong winds, and occasional antelope wandering and grazing and ever watchful..................
After pulling off the Greybull Highway and then travelling slowly along a dry, dirt and gravel road, we passed over a cattle guard and finally reached the basin.
When we first enter the basin the scene in front of us is always a little startling because it is overwhelmingly huge.
An endless, expansive piece of.........nothing.
Hills - endless hills.  Flat - endlessly flat land and sage brush.  The Big Horns to our left but still sixty miles away.  Carter Mountain in front of us but still 50 miles away.
No people.  No noise.  Just an entire world of nothing and everything.  All layed out silently in front of us...............
In all directions there are dirt roads.
Some of them lead to towns such as Burlington or Meeteetse.
When you first see them all meandering in different directions and disappearing into the distance, they look flat and straightforward, much as the terrain does.
In reality the roads contain rolling hills, large rutted out sections, all of them now (early in the summer) lined with endless and highly varied wild flowers.
The flowers can be found everywhere right now.  Not the endless carpets of flowers you would find in forests and grassy mountain sides - this is high desert and the ground is far too barren for such things.
The flowers are found in individual clumps throughout the basin. 
Quickly we picked up a road to the right and headed towards Wind Rock............
Click to enlarge this picture.
Hidden in the grass is a sitting, watchful, barely visible, sole antelope..............
The beauty of the forest is obvious and indisputable.
You have to look a little harder to see beauty on BLM land.
At first glance it looks dry, barren, dead and dormant.
But if you look beyond the obvious you find beauty in large and small places.
This delicate, sweet little yellow flower was growing out of bone dry land...................
After parking the truck in the middle of the dirt road, LC and I wandered briefly looking out over forever and discovering what flowers were growing in the area.
In LC's warped sense of humor, he called my name.
As I walked up to him he pointed down at the ground and said "you have to take a picture of that".
So's a picture of daisies next to a cow pile..............
The last time we were here in Wyoming we climbed in and around this huge rock wall.
It was a very windy day and when we reached the top of the wall I stood at the edge, looking out over the entire basin.
The wind was not cold but it was very strong and it battered both of us the entire time we were out.
As I stood on the edge of the rock a strong gust of wind blew my ball cap off my head.
It blew over the cliff and disappeared "somewhere" below.
I was disappointed because it was the only hat I had from the adventure racing group that I had been a part of for many years while living in Tennessee.
LC and I climbed down from the rock wall and spent 20 minutes searching for that hat, hoping that it had simply gotten caught in a sage bush and had not, in fact, disappeared into the basin on the winds.
We didn't find it.
Almost two years later we found ourselves again wandering around the same rock wall, and my Mountain Boy mentioned the hat.
And yes......two years later we found ourselves wandering around below the rock wall searching for a black and green adventure racing cap, that maybe (just maybe) had gotten caught in a sage bush.
It was a useless endeavour and we both knew it, but cool would it have been if we HAD actually found the stupid thing??
Heading back to the truck empty handed.
We didn't find my ball cap, but in truth and after all this time it didn't really matter.
What really mattered was that in the brief time LC and I had been out in Oregon Basin, was had already seen endless space, beautiful mountains, interesting rock formations, an antelope, a huge variety of random and colorful wild flowers, an ant hill, and daisies beside a cow patty.
The sun was shining, the sky was a blue that could never be replicated on canvas by even the most proficient painter, and the world was a quiet and warm and beautiful place....................
I have taken pictures of this same tree many times.
It stands alone.
Just a mid-size solitary tree growing out of the rocks and in the barest amount of soil, it survives on little water, sometimes gale force strength winds, unrelenting sun in the summer and unrelenting cold in the winter.
I have always loved the combination of ancient rock, lone pine tree, and endless sky....................
A huge, bright green leafy bush growing straight out of the rocks......................
A couple of years ago I was mountain biking on BLM land behind the house.
When I hit a box canyon I debated briefly whether I should turn around and back out of the canyon so that I could explore some more on bike, or whether I should simply drop my bike and head up the hill on foot to see what was on the other side.
I ended up dropping my bike and bushwhacking up a hill until I unexpectedly found a trail.
Still climbing, I followed the trail to the top of the hill not knowing as I was climbing, exactly what I would find when I got there.
I fully expected to reach the top, enjoy the view and then head back down to pick up my bike.
Instead, when I reached the top I found the entire Oregon Basin laid out before me far below.
I followed the trail to the right, thinking that it would follow the ridge line around the hills, but instead it dropped me down into the basin, and I spent the next couple of hours exploring the basin close to the hills before heading back the way I had come.
It was a wonderful and unexpected adventure.
LC drove the truck on this day all the way to the place I had found a couple of years ago.
Parking the truck in the grass, we climbed out of the truck, grabbed the little cooler of food we had brought with us, and then climbed up a small hill looking for a place to eat lunch............
While we’re young and beautiful, living free and easy. Here without a worry, dancing in our bare feet because when the summer’s done we might not be so young and beautiful..............Unknown

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