I don’t know how many times we have passed to the N.S.E. or West of this place and never stopped. We finally decided this was the time. Often things you have always wanted to see are underwhelming when first finally experienced. This was my reaction to the columnar basalt plug that somehow became named Devils Tower (it was supposed to be Devil’s Tower, but a clerical error in the bill forever gave our first National Monument an incorrect spelling). After so much red rock in the southwest, the greenish gray of the tower was a bit of a disappointment. Set down in any other country in the world it would be the most visited place. shame on me!
However, the surroundings, pines, grass and wildflowers were a welcome change, and we enjoyed two days in the campground. There was a prairie dog colony between the campground and the tower, and they were somewhat habituated to humans; nobody shoots them here, and it’is possible to get a good look. When they are hunted, as they are on most all private property in Wyoming, they won’t let humans within a couple of hundred yards of them.
Our campsite was in the middle of a grove of cottonwoods, and the rustle of the leaves sounds like a gentle rain falling, even with the sun shining. Our sunroof gave us views of the small, heart shaped, leaves against a starry sky each night. Last night thunderstorms to the east added depth and interest to the stars and broken clouds. We got a sprinkle. Or was that just the cottonwoods?
June 10, Vedauwoo, Wyoming. We decided to check out a SE Wyoming bouldering spot; the photos we saw at the Wyoming Welcome Center reminded us of a place in Australia called Devil’s Marbles. It is on BLM land, so the camping was cheap, and half price for me, so we decided to make a day of it and stay the night. The hike around Turtle Rock, from the campground, was four or five miles, just right, and we had lots of daylight. We got distracted by a little bouldering of our own: Claire surprised me by asking to try a little climbing and she did very well. If I remember the old system, we might have done some 5.2, hard core! It was really fun, but the top was truly vertical and we had no gear, so we passed and made our way back down to the trail and finished the hike.
The small coffee shop/music shop/ lunch place we were hoping to enjoy again, had made it until three years ago and failed. On another cold June day in 1995, after an even colder pass from Wyoming, we’d found steaming mugs of herbal tea, a radiant woodstove, some cakes, wonderful classic jazz and the conversation of a lovely 17 year old girl, about to be married and head off to college. It was nothing special really, but somehow, at the right moment in the early stages of our first big adventure together, memorable, very memorable. Now we wish we could know where the parents went, did the girl’s marriage go well, was college a success for them, did they indeed move to West Virginia? We’ll never know, like so many lives that have somehow enriched us, we’ll never know the rest of the story; but maybe that’s not so bad, we can write our own: the girl and her new husband moved to West Virginia for cheap land and cheap education and found both. But soon, he found the hills oppressive compared to the openness of the West. She began a garden and learned to quilt, set down roots. They began to fight… No I don’t like that beginning. Needs work.