Tuesday, October 15, 2013

From Wild Horses to Wild Landscape- Sept 12-15

Pilot Butte

You might not realize it, but even today you can still be find free roaming wild horses in the southwestern corner of Wyoming. After learning this I decided to chase down some of those wild horses outside the town of Rock Springs. If you are traveling and don't have a GPS, just look for Pilot Butte (7,932') which has been an excellent marker for people traveling through the area for centuries.  Even as late as the 1920's U.S. Mail planes used it as a navigational marker. The town itself  was established as an old mining town back in 1879.  As the mining operations grew so did the population. Eventually, the Union Pacific Railroad started bringing in miners from all around the world and along with them came cowboys, sheepherders, and a few outlaws which created quite the melting pot.

An "Ex" something.
One of the more famous residents of the day was a guy by the name of Butch Cassidy who supposedly got the name Butch after working in a butcher shop. You probably didn't know that because Butch didn't care much for gossip and didn't hesitate to use his "Six Shooter" to keep people quiet. Actually he wasn't known to have ever killed anyone, but who is gonna mess with such a successful train and bank robber like that?

The coal mining still exists today, but the rest of that history is long gone. No matter though, I was there for the horses. What's the difference between seeing a wild horse as opposed to a domesticated horse? Good question! I guess, mainly the lack of a fence between you and the horses. That and, of course, the novelty of seeing such a powerful and graceful creature in its natural habitat. 
Actual Wild Horses!

So in the morning I drove the 50 mile loop through horse territory and it was very cloudy. In fact, the clouds hung so low that as I climbed up the plateau the fog became so thick that I couldn't see my hoof in front of my face let alone Pilot Butte. It didn't make sense to keep driving since I could be driving right past a herd and not know it, or worse, right into a herd. So I paused until the fog lifted and in the end saw two groups. The second was the pay day as it had a couple of mares that either really liked each other, or really didn't like each other at all. I couldn't tell as I watched them continuously playing or fighting, again I'm not familiar enough with wild horse behavior to tell the difference. In any case it was entertaining and should make for a good photo or two. 
To finish off my Wyoming experience I traveled just a little way down the road to check out two other natural attractions. The first was what is known as the Boar's Tusk and it's a small cousin to the Devil's Tower, both towering mounds of petrified interiors from ancient volcanoes. Within eye-shot of the Tusk is a recreational area known as White Sands. I was hoping for some striking high contrast scenes there, but was doubly thwarted. Firstly, by the roads becoming increasingly beset with the fine white sand in question, to the point where I consider myself either a skillful driver or a lucky idiot for not getting stuck along the lengths that I braved. Secondly, the dark clouds gaining speed on the horizon and quickly coming my way beckoned me to a hasty retreat from the area lest I get caught and find myself stuck for a day or two until I could excavate my 2WD van from the desert quicksand. In the end I made it out of there unscathed except that the high speed exit along washboard roads led to an explosion of the "beer" kind. Nothing a sponge couldn't handle, but I was thankful I wasn't transporting a keg!
The Road to the Boar's Tusk!

Saying goodbye to wild Wyoming I cruised into Park City, Utah for a touch and go visit with my buddy Tom before eagerly making my way down to Moab where the adventure continues.....

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