Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Long Hike With Good Company

About a week ago - on a very cool and overcast day me, Kory and a lady who lives for regular adventure, walked together into Oregon Basin.
I have kayaked a couple of times with Kelly but this was the first time we had hiked together and I was excited at the prospect of exploring new places.
The plan was to hike a trail beginning on the outer rim of the basin, hike up the power line trail and then drop down into the basin proper.
From there we would hike flat trails until we (hopefully) reached Circle Rock.
I say hopefully because I had never hiked all the way to Circle Rock before.
LC and I had visited often, but we had always driven all the way around, driven through an entrance into the basin and then followed rutted out dirt trails until we reached Circle Rock.
On this day we would be dropping down on foot into the basin, and I truthfully had no idea how far it was to walk it.
And it didn't really matter.
I was happy to be hiking.  So was Kelly.  And so was my dog.
No matter what we reached or didn't reach, no matter what we found or didn't find, it was all good.
Kelly dropping down into the basin.
Kory was off trail somewhere but close by, doing her happy-puppy-exploring...................
I had walked to the top of the power line trail before, but had never dropped all the way down into the basin.
Half way down we came to an enormous rock ledge with no trail beyond that immediately visible.
Kelly and I recon-ed the area looking for a trail down.
We could see trails zig-zagging the desert floor far below us - there had to be a trail down there somewhere (or at least a relatively navigatable route that we could use to climb down).
We kept looking.
A few minutes after beginning our search for a way down, we saw Kory happily exploring rock crevices 80 feet below us.
Kelly and I looked at each other in bemusement and surprise.
Alright Missy - how did you get down there?
I called to Kory, hoping to encourage her back up the hill (and by default show us a potential way down into the basin).
Instead, my athletic dog climbed vertically - hopping, skipping and jumping her way easily up a route that no self-respecting middle aged women would dare to attempt..................
Kelly is a dog lover, and my human-loving dog immediately took to her.
One last picture before we all picked our way down over boulders, around sage bushes, and across washed out ditches before eventually reaching a trail we had seen from above.....................
Once we reached the basin floor all three of us quickly picked up a trail and headed west.
Kelly and I walked easily and matched each other's pace well, but Kory was having more fun than any one dog should be allowed to have.
She disappeared constantly - investigating bushes and rocks, climbing hills and disappearing on the back side, before making her reappearance each time a few minutes later.
As far as we were walking, my dog was running at least three times further.
Likely more.
We stopped occasionally so that I could provide a thirsty dog with water.
As we continued with our hike I constantly looked around me, trying to reconcile the area.
It all looked so different.
This late in the spring, everything was green, making the area look foreign to me.
But the oil wells and nasty lake in the distance were in the right place.
So was the jagged ridge line, and the power lines and the mountains in the distance.
We were headed in the right direction but had no real idea how far we still had to travel.................
And then I saw it.
One lonesome tree growing up from the rocks.
A tree that I had photographed many times on previous trips as we approached Circle Rock.
I knew this tree well, recognized it immediately when I finally saw it on this trek, and knew that we were finally there.
I stayed on trail, while Kory and Kelly wandered up to the side of Circle Rock, and I watched as Kelly took this place in for the very first time.
She was instantly enamored with the smooth edges, the holes, the crevices that had been ground into this massive sandstone rock over eons of extreme wind and rain...............
Kory and Kelly climbed the steep side of Circle Rock, while I walked a little further on trail and entered from a less-steep area.
We had found it.
I was pleased with myself for having successfully navigated us to this place in Oregon Basin, and pleased to again have an opportunity to enjoy Circle Rock.................
Looking down into a huge circular hole in the sandstone that has been eaten away by wind and rain.................
And another one..................
Everything on Circle Rock is circular.
The fungi, the natural rock platforms, the wind-swept areas that have been eaten away by the elements to expose large and small sections of soil, the circles that have been "tattooed" across vast flat sections, the deep holes.
Circles everywhere you turn..................
We spent a long time exploring Circle Rock.
In between, we drank water and ate sandwiches, and called to my dog who continually disappeared over rises.................
After a long stay it was time to think about heading back to the vehicle.
We had gotten a late start, it was already after 5 and we had a couple of miles of hiking and a serious climb up and out of the basin ahead of us.
After some brief debate about options we had to get back to the Suburban, Kelly and I decided to follow a deer trail around a ridge line.
It was a route I had never taken before and we had no idea how far we would be able to follow it before it petered out, but it was traveling in the right general direction to take us back, and that was good enough.
Excited about the prospect of new adventure we headed out.
Two middle aged women and a dog.
Just happy to be here.................
Following the ridge line and loving the views and the rock formations................
Do you see the face in the rock?..................
Eventually the ridge line trail dried up as predicted and we all unexpectedly found one more huge rock that was similar to Circle Rock.
Just as large, just as many interesting circles found in every direction, and we excitedly explored it as we crossed over this sandstone goliath and eventually dropped down completely into the basin.
By this time my too-tight hip flexors and chronic right hip-injury were beginning to sound off.
Sore hips had to be ignored at this time and in this place.
We were still a couple of miles away from the Suburban.
Those couple of miles involved bushwacking across open territory, a long steep climb up to the top of the ridge line, and a long steep hike down the power line trail.
There was no time for sore hips....................
By the time we were hiking the last down hill my dog was hot and tired, I was hot and tired and sore, and Kelly seemed to be in the best condition of all three of us.
By the time we arrived back at the Suburban we were all tired.
But a good tired.
I LOVED this adventure.
Two awesome hiking companions - one human and one canine.
We saw wonderful scenery, Kory loved every minute of her unexpectedly long adventure, and we all had a great afternoon.
Very good deal....................

Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits..............Cindy Ross

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Afternoon Adventure - Dead Indian Pass

We had started last Sunday by both drinking coffee and catching up on the latest news before heading to the Irma for brunch (which we do often on Sundays):
The river walk in back of town was actually intended to walk off a big meal, while at the same time giving puppy a chance to run in a beautiful and quiet place.
Once the walk was done we all three went home, curled up inside a beloved over sized dog travel crate (Korys' security cave) and on two couches, before all promptly falling into Sunday afternoon naps.
By the time we all woke up again it was 4:30.
When I looked outside I realized that the day had only continued to get warmer and more beautiful, and LC and I looked at each other questioningly.
An hour later LC looked over at me and said "Let's go up Dead Indian Pass!"
Dead Indian Pass is a place steeped in American history:
But to me it is simply a place that encompasses everything we love so much about Wyoming.
Mountains.  Endless views.  Pine Trees.  Isolation.  Natural beauty.  Wild life.
It was all there.
Waiting for us to find it on the drive up into the mountains.
If we had more time we could have dropped down off the back side of the pass and driven through Sunlight Basin and Crandall, but that wouldn't happen on this day.
Dead Indian Pass would be as far as we would go before we had to turn back, and this late in the day that was OK with both of us...................
I'm not sure why, but I always think of the trip up to Dead Indian Pass being further than it actually is.
Even with two brief stops on the climb up so I could snap some pictures, 45 minutes after we left Cody, we found ourselves standing alone at the top of the pass........................
It was extremely windy and cold at this elevation, but not freezing as it had been early last winter when we came to this place the last time.
On that day we could only stand outside at the top of the pass for a couple of minutes.
The wind was fierce.
And so was the cold.
Months later, LC and I both reached for light jackets and quickly pulled them on.
It was still cold, but not terrible, and our mutual excitement about standing in this wonderful and historical place made the mild discomfort worthwhile.
It doesn't matter how many times we have been here.
We are like excited children every visit................

LC and I stood at the overlook over........looking.........the entire world that was laid out in front of us.
I furiously zoomed in and out, taking picture after picture of the mountains, and then looked down at Kory to make sure that she was doing alright in this unfamiliar place.
She was busy sniffing rocks and signs and random clumps of grass.
It doesn't matter whether we are wandering at a place as magnificent as Dead Indian Pass or as mundane as an alley way between two store fronts in town.
Korys' brain is as deeply engaged with both places, and that amuses the heck out of me.
Such a simple, wonderful, easy-to-please creature................
There are information boards located around the overlook fence that tell the tale of this place...................
If we had continued beyond the crest of the mountain and continued on the same highway, we would have quickly dropped.
And then we would have been greeted by a miles-long stretch of highway so winding that it would boggle you mind as we dropped down into Sunlight Basin.
The drive just continues to get more isolated and more beautiful from that point onwards.
It's so funny.
We haven't driven beyond Dead Indian Pass yet, since we arrived back in Wyoming.
But I remember all of it.
I hadn't thought about this drive in years.
I didn't even KNOW that I remembered it.
But I do.
And we'll drive it in a couple of months when we have more time, when the weather is stable, the snow in the mountains is gone, and when the lush growth of late spring and summer is in full force................
Our dog has spent years exploring parts of the country that she could never have imagined, as she was floundering on her last days in that shelter down in Florida.
That pleases me.
She is a girl full of life and energy and love and adventure.
I am so glad we found her.
And she found us.
And we found each other..................
I snapped a lot of pictures of the little chipmunks that somehow manage to survive in the rock cliffs at Dead Indian Pass.
The weather is atrocious up there much of the year.
I have no idea how they survive but somehow they do.
Only one picture showed a chipmunk.
In the other pictures they all blended with and disappeared into the rocks...................
Pictures taken during quick stops on the way back down.................
Just over two hours after we had left Cody, headed towards Clark, turned onto the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, climbed up to Dead Indian Pass, and wandered and snapped pictures at the top of the pass, we were home again.
I don't know why I always think that it is further away that it really is.
Maybe it's because it is such a steep and prolonged climb to reach the top.
But this particular trip finally reinforced to me how close it really is to where we are living.
Great brunch at the historic Irma Hotel.  A great walk down by the river.  A great afternoon nap.  A great drive into the mountains.
One helluva way to spend a Sunday.
Good Day!

Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.............Author Unknown