Sunday, July 10, 2005


Friday afternoon I took off for Lander, where Chad lives. He and I had been planning a weekend, non-serious car-camping excursion practically all summer, and lucky for me (but luckier for him), his fiancee's family has land in the Owl Creek Mountains near Thermopolis. It's just over 3 hours to Lander and the drive can be brutal - giant rolling hills with a 75mph speed limit, semis, tourists in RVs, blazing sun, and of course, wind. Lots and lots of wind. I pulled into Lander with a screamer headache, but after taking a great drive up into Sinks Canyon and then dinner and beer at the Gannett Grill, I was feeling better. After a good night's sleep we finally loaded up and headed for Riverton, where Chad's fiancee lives.

We collected coolers, gear, and her dog and the three (well, four, counting the dog) of us headed for the rendezvous. Chad's fiancee's cousin and her husband met us at a predetermined spot, and we loaded all the gear into their pickup and put M and her dog in the back of Chad's Jeep. He was wise enough to predict that my truck wouldn't make it halfway to the property, and he was right. The dusty road rose out of low rocky foothills into high rockier ranchland. . . my truck definitely would have crapped out in many, many places. Chad's a hell of a technical driver, though, and after an hour of crawling down a two-track trail through scrub and sage, we finally got to the spot. It was hotter than hell, but gorgeous: a tiny creek running by a strand of cottonwoods (I think - Chad?), with 300 ft. valley walls rising above them.

From there it was more or less like any other car-camping experience, except that M's cousins' favorite thing to do is climb the valley walls, shovels in hand, and then pry gigantic granite boulders loose and watch them crash down the valley. It's called "trundling," and it's one hell of a good time.

After dinner and smores we headed into our respective tents. I got a few hours of sleep but then woke up sneezing due to some wicked allergy attack. I didn't get back to sleep, and when the sky first hinted at turning from starlit black to gray, I got out of my bag and climbed the nearest hill. I watched the sky for a bit, headed back to the tent, and caught one more hour of sleep before the other folks started waking up.

Breakfast consisted of coffee, eggs, bacon, toast (kind of - I just stuck some bread on a stick and held it over the fire), and pancakes. After just a little bit more exploring, we headed out.

The drive back to Laramie was much easier, thanks to a tailwind. I'm sitting here freshly showered - you should thank me for that - sipping a beer and watching a baseball game. At some point I really need to air out my bag and tent, but that might have to wait until tomorrow. I sense an early bedtime coming tonight.


Blogger Chad said...

Indeed. They were cottonwoods. And thanks for the plug on my driving skills. Great, relaxing weekend. We'll have to do it again sometime.

9:16 AM  

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