There comes a time when the view of your new front yard is not enough. Time to get out for a stretch of the legs.
When not working on or through necessary tasks, I took the opportunity to explore my immediate area one evening before sunset, and then take a real walk the next afternoon. Medicine Bow National Forest varies from rolling, grassy plain to impenetrable forest on both “normal” mountains and mountains made of massive boulders. I have not tried to make majestic keepsakes here. These are simply snaps that show some of what presents itself before you at every turn, at any time of day.
Stumbling around just before sunset can produce some visual memories that become like icons of a place.
Things like this always hold my attention and interest, as though they are humorous quirks created just for the pleasure of it.
Between the grass in the foreground and the mountains way back there is a lot of terrain that would require an axe, rope, and skill to get through. The very tough vegetation explains why Westerners always wore tall, fully-exposed boots to protect clothing fabric. Chaps were a more complete alternative to do the same job when riding, and were also a little better at decreasing leg injury when an ornery horse decided to scrape you off. The transition of bushy areas into ranches and farms eventually altered Western boot fashion into the relatively low, concealed and citified version it is today. There was no longer much functional need for the extra expense.
I’m just amazed and amused by this stuff.
Another long shot to a mountain of boulders, but this one also reminds me that were I to run and jump off of the abrupt drop-off just ahead, whatever injuries suffered would be fairly unlikely to include any ground contact. It’s that dense! Blazing your own path here would be an ordeal.
Walking in the opposite direction relative to the trailer shows grasslands, though some type of walking boot is also a very good idea here as well, unless you will be picking a careful path rather than looking up at the landscape. The good news is that I saw no burrs here at all, so it’s a pleasant hike.
Now THIS is washboard! With ridges at least an inch high, the spacing self-adjusts to the most common vehicle speed, which here appears to be about 20 MPH. Even belly-crawling 1.5 miles of this in a 3/4-ton truck with E-rated tires at 75 PSI is unpleasant. Passenger cars take it easily, but the wheels busily flopping up and down are kind of a humorous thing to watch, and a steady diet of this will eventually cause financial angst.
I Think my jaw was hanging open the whole time I first drove into Vedauwoo because of those rocks. I felt like I was driving into Alice in Wonderland or something.
Reading up on the place, I was surprised to learn that it had been completely deforested to build the railroad. Then the CCC boys came in and planted trees during the Great Depression (I was recently in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and learned that the pathways through the cave were created by crews of boys, too, just before the war, which claimed so many of their lives.)
Now the trees are fighting for their life again. It was sad to see so many dead trees. I shared a photo of a big, domed rock by my campsite, surrounded by dead, downed trees on Facebook and my friends said it looked like a giant, alien insect.
I sawed off a couple of the “insect’s” legs and had firewood for my whole stay. I wish firewood were not quite so plentiful in Vedauwoo, though. If you know what I mean.
Oh, yeah, the other surprise I learned about Vedauwoo is that it is not a Native American name. It was named by a white woman trying to come up with a name that sounded Native. All that mythology about the Earth Spirits is an invention. Fortunately, the artificial history does not dim the very real beauty there. Vedauwoo is definitely going to be a regular stop for me whenever passing through the area.
I didn’t know any of that. But now I do! It is kind of a surreal place. Many of the long needle pines are partially brown, which makes me wonder of there’s a long-term drought here. I believe the “faux-aboriginal” story line of a local white lady naming it. Could have just asked a native, but then again, Chicago seems to have derived from “smelly onion” (leeks) that grew in the area river, so maybe that’s not always the best tack to take.
It’s not a drought; there’s a beetle killing the trees. There were warnings posted near the entrance when I was there, saying not to move firewood because the beetles will spread and not to camp under trees because they have a tendency to fall down dead, suddenly and unexpectedly with a tent-crushing kaboom.
Oh my. “Can’t be stopped.” Thanks for the link USM. The “potential fuel” aspect of dead tress and drought is what gets my attention as a camper, since we still work to prevent forest fires, but seldom take any alternative action to get the same end result less traumatically. We stave it off until it can’t possibly be controlled when the inevitable happens. It may be the least costly approach, but when that bill does come due…
It is always so interesting for me to find out about other beautiful places, especially national parks. I found the surroundings of Medicine Bow NP really stunning (my favourite was the grasslands). Very nice pictures too 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
Thanks, Geetha. I have yet to visit a real grasslands, like Thunder Basin National Grasslands north of here. With a more agile form of camping, the possibilities – the sheer number of beautiful or historic places to visit and stay – are mind-boggling.