“You have brains in your head, and feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” ~Dr. Seuss
For breakfast, I ate my leftovers from the Speakeasy and Len ate a banana and a lamb-jerky bar, part of a big box of retirement goodies from my sister (he loves them, Sarah). I finished up some online stuff, scheduled the next update to publish while out of range, and we headed into the Bighorn Mountains. It was a sixty-mile trip to the Prune Creek Wilderness Campground and we stopped at the Burgess Junction Visitor’s Center at the junction of 14 and 14-A. By now most of the educational things we’re reading are things we’ve seen in other museums along the way, but the refresher is always good. I’ve been so intrigued with the rocks of Wyoming. The chert is especially interesting and is what was used to make knapped arrowheads and spear points for thousands of years. The sedimentary rocks often have evidence of invertebrate fossils in them, and the granite is just gorgeous, often pink or red with veins of quartz or onyx running through them. I snagged a few for the crabitat, all the while secretly hoping that Wyoming has a goddess (like Pele) that will compel me to keep returning to her mountains.
Before leaving the visitor’s center we ate a quick lunch out of the chuckwagon (smoked turkey wrapped in a tortilla with provolone and Parmesan and a handful of grapes). At that point we didn’t realize how close we were to our destination and suddenly 2.1 miles later we were at Prune Creek. The Tongue River here is just gorgeous (it’s what Prune Creek feeds into). It’s still fairly high from snowmelt, but it’s got wide open banks and Len was able to fish from the sides and cast all the way to the far bank with no trouble. It’s at an altitude of about 8,000 feet and reminds us both of the Adirondacks. The woods are mostly pine and the river water is clear but stained brown with tannins from the pine duff.
The campsite was quite nice. The amenities included a pit toilet (for the whole campsite) and a centrally located pump-handle water spigot. At first I kept seeing clouds of dust and thought the nearby dirt road was going to be an issue, then I realized it was the pine trees surrounding our campsite that were joyfully pollinating one another at an astounding rate. I cleaned off the solar panels every few hours and the paper towels came back smeared with bright yellow. My black windbreaker showed a yellow haze when viewed at an angle. The Jeep developed bright yellow pinstripe detailing and yellow tinted windows.
I keep thinking of the Robert Frost poem A Peck of Gold that ends with the line, “We all must eat our peck of gold.” Except OUR gold dust is pollen and we have surely ingested more than a peck. It’s in the air, in our food, all over the picnic table, inside the cabin, no doubt in our hair and all over our pillows. Blow your nose and the tissue turns yellow. It’s really shocking the volume of pollen being cast upon our heads.
After we settled in, Len fished and I wrote out a group of postcards and a couple of birthday cards then meditated. My current Headspace pack is on Focus and it uses a combination of visualization and noting, which is working really well. The only problem is that I have no Internet and so have to do the same day over and over until I get back to downloading capability.
For dinner, we had saved the two brown trout from Medicine Lodge Creek, and just as I was preparing them for cooking (in an aluminum foil pouch resting on a couple of strips of bacon, topped with Kosher salt, olive oil, and lime slices), Len grabbed his fly rod and moved to the river. Not five minutes later he came back with a rainbow trout to add to the browns already in the pouch. As he was turning the sizzling pouch over the fire, he said, “I can’t wait to taste the rainbow.”
My campsite reading has been the memoir “The Same River Twice” by Chris Offutt and holy cow is it good. I’ve enjoyed it so much I’m sure I will finish it before we pull up stakes. I’m afraid I’ve used it pretty hard (Sorry Chris!), getting part of the cover wet, spilling some coffee on it, and smashing a blood-filled mosquito on the front edge. At first I felt bad about the condition of the book, but the more I read of it, the more I realized that if any author wouldn’t mind his book being read by a river in the Wyoming wilderness, being read hard and put up wet, it would probably be Chris Offutt. In fact, the cover (already perfectly suited to the subject matter) seemed to appreciate the rough handling.
The evening turned very cool (about 40 degrees) and breezy as the sun set. I bundled up and we sat by the fire for as long as we could keep our eyes open (Len won that contest) and turned in beneath a blanket of stars, wearing more sleep clothes than we had for most of the trip.
Tomorrow: More Prune Creek.