Day # 6 June 23, 2018 Wyoming is a contraction of the Native American word mecheweamiing (“at the big plains”), On day #6 I headed up to Casper Wyoming via secondary roads as I had spotted on the map a national monument and national historic site in the direction I needed to head: Chimney Rock National Historic Site and Scott’s Bluff National Monument. Chimney Rock was a very well recognized landmark along the Oregon Trail. It’s an impressive monolith, which in the early settlers more puritanical heritage was finally designated Chimney Rock, but I find euphemisms based on the original Native American name, such as Elk’s Peak and Elk Brick or perhaps even Elk’s Pxxxs (male phallus) more interesting. I had hope to take a hike out towards the rock, but with no designated trails and signs abounding about “beware of rattlesnakes” I used caution (which I am not always prone to do) and took head of the warning.
A few miles up the road along the North Platte River is Scott’s Bluff an immense sandstone formation which is gradually eroding away grain by grain of sand. However with a top that was protected by a cap stone, Scott’s Bluff has survived the erosion that wore away the surrounding structures and that created the Great Planes.
I was so grateful to find the trails here dog friendly and traversed both the South and North Overlook Trails and a brief section of the Original Oregon Trail. I must admit Kili and Simba enjoyed the Overlook Trails but did not have much enthusiasm for the original section of the Oregon trail here. Simba found great relief by the cow and both refused to walk any further. Guess they were not born of pioneer blood.
I experience some level of nostalgia and fond remembrances of the old geography and history class, as well as movie and TV that brought to life much of the history of the pioneers and the tremendous challenges they faced. I had been complaining about the rather dowdy Motel 8 I stayed at and then on this day found myself feeling internally embarrassed as I viewed the exhibit of the Conestoga 10 x 4 canvased topped wagons and recalled the trials and hardships, rugged terrain and wildly unpredictable weather the pioneers faced right on this very land I was treading on. I am a whole lot heartier than many of my peers and love backpacking in the wilderness in most weather, but my REI, Patagonia, High Sierra, Jetboil and MSR Pocket Rocket make the challenge a luxury high end trek compared to plowing across country to make a better life in a rickety wagon or walking much of the way to lighten the load.
I was now firmly in the mode of visiting historic sites, I crossed into Wyoming and headed to Fort Laramie National Historic Site, a very stark and treeless setting and again conjured up visions of the Lakota (Sioux) trading buffalo robes and later the emigrants stopping over to re-supply on their westward journey via the Oregon Trail. Naturally I also felt outrage again at the treatment and mass murder and destruction of hunting grounds of the Native Americans as the emigrants swelled and began claiming the Lakota, Sioux and Arapahoe lands, fighting wars, executing treaties and then breaking them.
Moving onward through Wyoming I could not help but notice oil wells and surprisingly to me many long coal trains.
My final stop was in Casper Wyoming, and another very dog friendly LaQuinta and of course the numerous tedious dog walking circles of the motel parking lot.