Friday, October 8, 2010

Big Horn Mountains

A slight drizzle fell over the quiet rodeo town of Ten Sleep, Wyoming, a town whose population is just over 300.Ten Sleep's name came from the fact that this Indian rest stop was ten day's travel, or ten sleeps, from Fort Laramie, or Yellowstone Park or the Stillwater River in Montana.  We ate pastry for breakfast while drinking hot cocoa and chai latte, while we wondered what drew people here.  Jeff looked at a real estate brochure and noted that prices for old, small homes were very pricy.  We wondered what the draw was. 
Land close to town was dry, brown and rocky. Sage seemed to be the main crop.
But, driving away from town, the earth turned red then quickly lifted to hills. . .
 Green spotted cliffs indicated that we were entering the Ten Sleep Canyon.
Water cuts through the Big Horn Mountains coming from the Powder River Pass into the valley.
Today, the road was pleasingly lonely. It was the middle of the week and foggy along the sixty-mile road to Buffalo Wyoming.
Big Horn sheep were on our minds as we viewed the cliffs but big horns were well hidden today.

Autumn had come to mountain meadows, bringing dark green to the pines and burnt sienna to the grassland. Fog blurred the line between horizon and sky.
We drove into the clouds as we crossed the pass on Route 16 from Ten Sleep to Buffalo Wyoming.

Snow remaining from last spring had already seen some addition and would soon be covered by several feet of fresh accumulation.
This was snowmobile country.  The large treeless meadows would soon be perfect for warmly dressed winter recreationists. (Seems like a good word to me.)

There were trails and signs to trails at every bend in the road.  There was a snowmobile path alongside the road.
For now, though we were almost alone.  We saw very few other cars.
Some ranches in the area cater to horse and snowmobile trail riding.
As quickly as it climbed into the Big Horn Mountains, the road descended to the flatlands . . .
. . .taking us with it.


wncmountainliving said...

A very beautiful but desolate spot.

Laloofah said...

I've always loved leaving the Basin side of the Big Horns in bright sunshine, then driving through thick fog, and descending once more into sunshine on the eastern side of the mountains. So many contrasts in such a relatively short distance!

I'm glad you enjoyed your journey through my neck of the woods! It is desolate, but I love desolation like that and find it hauntingly beautiful. Wish there were more of it left.

Oh, and what IS up with Tensleep's real estate? I knew it was crazy over here (though it's been tanking like everywhere else), but had no idea prices were high over there.