Sunday, July 26, 2015

On Green Mountain

Early in July, on the 1st actually, the dogs and I drove to the top of Green Mountain, in Wyoming, to spend a week or so in that very special place.

I had stumbled upon Green Mountain in 1970 when on my way to the Grand Tetons and then the Pacific coast. I went back for the first time last year, forty-four years later. A few things had changed — like a rudimentary BLM campground about half way up that hadn’t been there on my first trip — but for the most part not much had changed. Many of the larger trees had been logged off and had been replaced by second-growth, now thirty or so feet high.

Last year we had camped at the edge of a flat meadow, at the very top of the mountain at slightly over 9100-feet. The Green Mountains are home to 300-400 wild horses, mustangs, that have been there for a very long time. One band of them would come out onto the meadow almost every day, graze for an hour or so, and then go off to wherever they had come from in the first place.


This year we camped on the opposite side of that same meadow, and saw the same band of horses, plus a couple of colts. As if they were ‘used to’ us they came closer to our camp and stayed longer this time. Emma, Miss Bossy Boots, reminded them several times that they were to keep their distance. Jack was indifferent to them. He thought they were interesting to watch, for a while, but he quickly got bored with them and found something more exciting to do. Eventually I shooed them away as with horses come flies, and these flies seemed to think our camp was a bonanza of fresh meat.
In addition to the mustangs, Green Mountain is home to elk, whitetail and mule deer, black bear, lions, moose, and — courtesy of the government — a wolf pack introduced there a few years back. None of the meat-eaters showed up. Something I was not disappointed about.
This was the first away-from-home outing for the moto-pony and it did yeoman service. It amply vindicated my judgment that it was the tool I need for exploration and access to back-country places— with cameras and tripod, too.  Jack and I made 4-5 mile runs almost every day, sometimes more than one. He reveled in it.
The ‘peak’ of Green Mountain is actually a five mile long plateau, with a slightly higher eastern bump. All along this plateau are wonderful views of the Great Divide Basin. The Oregon Trail and the Pony Express route run close by on the north side. Landmarks eighty miles away could be clearly seen on a day without haze.
On the south side of the mountain the ground falls off steeply. There are jeep and ATV-trails down that side, but they are steep, rocky, often deeply rutted, and in many places even jeeps are warned off them. On two separate occasions I made the journey down and back with Wyoming friends who are experienced back-country ATVers and motorcyclists. I managed to dump the bike three times on one expedition, but all were low-speed wrecks with no damage to me or the bike. I did learn that this was not a place to ride alone. Much too dangerous. One of my friends, much younger than I, had broken ribs back there and had to be carted out. If it could happen to him, it could happen to me much more easily. (The sign, courtesy of a nameless BLM wag, says "Main Road.")
We stayed two weeks on this trip and we’re hoping to get back to Green Mountain in September.





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