We are heading west and down out of the mountains to Ten Sleep, WY. For the last 10 days, we have been boondocking. It is time to have all the hookups for a few days.
The drive down was really pretty.
The canyon that the road follows gives us views of steep walls of rock far above us.
The name of the mountains is no longer very relevant. Though the area was known for Bighorn Sheep, they are almost completely absent from the mountains. Hunting, disease and human activity has reduced the population to near zero. Only a small number have been reintroduced to the area in an attempt to repopulate in these mountains.
We did not see any while we were in the area.
Next stop, Ten Sleep which gets its name from the number of "sleeps" or days travel between two locations as in ten days either direction from "Ten Sleeps". The locations are in question. Some say between Bridger, Montana on Clarks Fork and Casper, Wyoming or it was between Yellowstone and Fort Laramie.
Ten Sleeps has a population of 206. Those visiting the RV park easily raise that number by 50%. The town has a filling station, general store, saloon, and a brewery but no traffic light or stop sign on the main highway.
Today we get our packs together for a long day hike.
We start at Circle Park Trailhead which connects to the Sherd Lake trails. This hike will take us pass several lakes. The original plan was to make the loop but we decided to change the plan to continue to Willow Lake and then return to the trailhead. Our planned 10 mile hike became a 9 mile hike with more elevation change. The original hike was to under 9400 feet but our change made that over 9600 feet.
We got a surprise on the first part of the hike. Goats! Pack goats!
Moving from the Forest to the Wilderness.
A gate to separate the wilderness from the forest.
Pretty hike with several lakes and a lots of really nice views.
At the end of the road where we are camping is a trailhead. The trail is frequently used by mountain bikers. We walked part of the trail today.
The creek was flowing fast and very pretty.
We do get some pretty sunsets.
Sunrises are pretty too.
The Neowise comet is very easy to see here but none of our cameras could get a picture of it. Nights are very dark, so dark I need a flashlight to see where to walk when outside. It is interesting that "dark" does not happen until after 10pm. Even as late as 9pm, it is very light outside and daybreak starts at 4am.
We drove west on hwy 16 through part of the Bighorn mountains. We found several very nice places to view the mountains.
The tallest mountain is Cloud Peak at an elevation of 13,171 feet. There are several mountains that are at or over 12,000 feet and all have snow on them. Yes, even at the end of July snow is easy to see at or near the peaks. For a Native Floridian, this always a bit of a surprise each time I look to those peaks.
The highest point on the drive was Powder River Pass at 9,666 elevation. The area is considered an alpine tundra.
These are common here. They are 10 feet tall and made to stop or at least slow snow drifts from crossing the roads. Wow! Guess this is not a place to be in the winter unless you don't mind being cold.
Cows! We got cows! (Guess which movie that is from.)
The forest Service Land we are camping on is also open grazing lands. The herd of black angus is more than 100 and includes heffers, calves, and a few bulls. So far our only problems have been some excessive mooing, keeping the bull from messing with the truck, and a couple of calves that think our chairs and Shawna's lawn ornaments are interesting.
We have seen several pronghorn that like the field just to the south of the 5th wheel.
We had a problem with the truck on our drive from Gillette, WY to Buffalo, WY. One of the tires was reporting 254 pounds of pressure instead of the normal 80 pounds. Yea right! For those of you who know computers ... I wonder what the system uses to store pressure levels?
It has been great that the truck has an air pressure monitor. Tire pressure is very important when hauling. A change can show a possible imminent failure. When a tire fails on a car or truck, it is bad but when hauling an RV it can be deadly. That is why we replace our tires more often than most people and installed a Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) to monitor the 5th wheel tires.
Long story, short...too late! We needed to take the truck into a dealership for a new TPMS monitor for the back driver tire. Yes, this is one of the repairs that must be done at the dealership because the truck computer will not talk to most non-dealer parts. We were warned.
The closest dealer is in Sheridan, WY which is a 40 miles away and we were also running short on some supplies(toilet paper) so the fact that they have a Walmart was helpful. The dealership had an opening the day we called and the parts in stock. We were in and out after 30 minutes.
The more important thing we found was that they have a brewery. The Luminous Brewhouse was fun.
Not only do they have some good beer for Shawna but they make their own Root Beer too. We bought a 32 oz can of both beer and root beer and they spun on the top right in front of us. Pretty neat.
What we did not expect was that the change from 7,000 feet to 3,000 feet in elevation and back was unpleasant. Not only did we have the pressure change but our ears and sinus did not react very well. We have discovered that a 4,000 foot change in 40 minutes is a bit much for us.
Today, we moved west from Gillette, WY where we had stayed at a Harvest Host Farm to the mountains just west of Buffalo, WY. The altitude change was from 4,200 feet to just over 7,000 feet. We can feel the difference both in breathing and the coolness of the air.
Our boondocking site is an enormous field. The RV's are spread out along the gravel road with our nearest neighbor more than 600 feet away.
This is our view from the RV to the North, South, East, and West.
Our door faces the South and from the table we look to the North.
In the picture to the west, you may be able to see that the higher peaks in the mountains still have some snow on them.
As requested here is a picture of Shawna's growlers and the bottle of moonshine. The first time we purchased a growler was at Lazy Hiker Brewing in Franklin, NC in 2016. They had a dark/black beer that Shawna liked. Next was the smaller dark growler from Bayou Teche brewing company in Louisiana. Shawna liked the beer but did not bring her growler so I went in a bought another for her. It is smaller in ounces because of laws in Louisiana. The double walled stainless steel growler we bought in Rockport, Texas...yea everything is bigger in Texas. Again she forgot to bring her growler...so another purchase. We now try to keep at least one in the truck so if we find a brewery we have one ready. The small bottle on the far right is the moonshine, I just bought in Deadwood, SD. I like that better than beer.
From Sundance Wyoming to the Devils Tower National Monument is only 30 miles away.
We were warned that the parking lot was small and filled early in the day. By the time we walked around the tower, we could see that there was a line of vehicles waiting for someone to leave so they could to enter.
The tower was formed by magma moving to the surface but not becoming a volcano. Over time the area around the magma eroded away leaving the tower standing alone.
The tower is 1,267 feet tall. Twenty native tribes consider this a sacred place. To some of the tribes, the Tower is known as Bear Lodge or Bear House. Tribes would send members to travel to the tower to pray. It was declared America's first national monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The plan is to hike two of the trails that loop around the tower. The outer trail 2.8 miles and the inner trail is 1.3 miles. As you can imagine almost all the tourists take the shorter trail since it is paved and ADA accessible. On our hike around the outer mountain trail, we only passed 8 people. I have no idea how many we passed on the inner trail. Including the access trails, we hiked 4.7 miles.
The tower really is unique. Standing next to something so different from anything else you can visit in the country is amazing.
We noticed several climbers working their way up the tower. Two were almost to the very top later in our hike.
We did see some wildlife. A couple of Red Squirrels and a Deer with her two Fawns.
We enjoyed our visit to the tower but did not have a close encounter of the 3rd or any other kind. Tonight we will NOT be having mashed potatoes. I would be WAY too tempted to act out a scene from the Close Encounters and that would not be good.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...