July 14, 1997
Location: Yellow Creek, Wyoming - Between Bear River crossing and Castle Rock.
Summary: Bear River Camp to Yellow Creek Camp
Journal entry: So tonight Wendy asked me if you could be so tired that you couldn't close your eyelids. I suppose so. I am almost there myself. Did the pioneers get so tired of walking and walking and walking that they just didn't care anymore about anything. All they wanted to do was just get there? We are getting to that point now. That's all we want. We just want to get there. Everybody is telling us how close we are and we could be in Salt Lake in an hour and a half, but we won't be there for another week. Oh my gosh......this is dragging on forever! If I just walked everyday til I dropped, I could be there tomorrow...or the next day.
We left the Bear River Camp and it was soooooo cold. We were freezing. Then we got up into the sun and warmed up. About half a mile up the paved road, we took off on a dirt road. The dirt road went through a gated fence and we were on the REAL trail. But the neat thing was... there was no trail. It was through this gorgeous green meadow and down and around a hill and up a mountain, and it was all on grass. It was just beautiful. After that we went through another gate and there was a two track road that we followed for quite awhile. It was only about 14 miles today, but they were beautiful miles.
At the end of the trail we went through a place called the Needles. It was a tricky, hilly, rocky road for the wagons and got a little breathtaking in places. The wagons went around it one at a time. If the animals had spooked at all, the wagons could have had a tumble down the mountainside. So they were very cautious. At the end of this mountainside, we followed the Yellow Creek down in to camp. It was really a fun day.
I don't even think any more about what time is it, or how long will it take to get to camp, or what is our speed. In my mind I think that we leave, we walk, and we get there....sometime. Time is rather irrelevant out here.
Tomorrow we enter Utah. Actually the stateline is just across the road from tonight's camp. That means our Wyoming wagon master, Ben Kern, has just finished his last day with us as the wagonmaster. He will be turning the reins over to the Utah wagonmaster tomorrow. His name is Bob Lowe. Before we enter Utah I want to tell a little about Ben. I was able to spend a little time with him these last few days. I took some pictures and asked him some questions. He is such a very nice, amiable man. Everyone had told me he was just a very nice person. That is true.
I asked Ben how he felt about the wagon train's trek across Wyoming. He said that he felt really good about how well we got across and that there were so few mishaps and problems. There were so many chances for problems and although there were a few, he feels the train crossed quite well.
Ben is from Wyoming. He retired from the Casper City Parks Department after 12 years of working there. He said the reason he retired was that he wanted to do a wagon train. That was five years ago and he has done a wagon train every year since then. He says he loves doing this. And next year he hopes to do another train, and then in 99, he is looking forward to the California Trail. So, I guess, Ben, these wagon train treks are really in your blood. Well, it's good to have someone so knowledgeable about Wyoming to get us through such a large, sagebrush-filled state. The treks Ben has done are: 1993 the Oregon Trail; 1994 - The Goodale- Northern Route of the Oregon Trail; 1995 Blaine County Centennial; 1996 The Iowa Trail from Nauvoo to Council Bluffs.
I asked Ben what he had done to prepare for the Mormon Trail re-enactment. He said he actually started working on this in June of last year. Then in August when the governing group decided he would be the Wyoming wagonmaster at the meeting in Scottsbluff, he really got busy. He has had to work with basically four groups of people: 1)the Bureau of Land Management 2)Ranchers and private land owners 3)The State of Wyoming and 4)the Parks people. He first had to contact them and let them know of the intentions of the wagon train and then it was the tedious task of mapping out the route of the train through Wyoming and getting the permission of the many different entities involved. He said he has had wonderful help from all the groups of people.
The private land owners have been very helpful in giving rights and showing the way; opening fences and gates. He said there has been a problem with other groups coming in this year and abusing the ranchers' lands in some areas. This has caused some problems in that the land owners have chosen to close their lands to us passing through. So Ben has had to make last minute adjustments. The parks have opened up their forts and been wonderfully helpful. He was very pleased with the parks people.
The State of Wyoming has been a great help in procuring passage, helping with road and traffic considerations and many of these things. But Ben said that the BLM has been the greatest help of all. Since we have spent so much time and distance in the BLM land, we all feel we have gotten to know those men very well. Ben said he wanted to be sure that the BLM people get the wonderful recognition that they deserve. They have done everything possible to get the wagon train through the BLM land with as little damage to the original trail as possible. Their first responsibility is to preserve the integrity of the land and trail and this they did well. They were with us constantly through the tough lands and even changed a few campsites so that the group and all our vehicles could be accommodated, rather than having to camp without support. Ben says that Jude Carino has been wonderful to work with. Says he is really a great guy.
I also asked Ben what he was going to do when this event ended. He says there is a wonderful family up north of Casper that he really likes and their kids think he is pretty great. So he will go up there and help on the ranch. He'll work on a book about the Mormon Trail and then next year he is going to do the Joel Meek Cutoff wagon train that is the Ft. Boise- Dowles cutoff. I think I got that right. Anyway, Ben, we really do appre- ciate your hard work and efforts in our behalf through Wyoming. To me it was a hard state to get through. The terrain of Wyoming is for tough people. And you did a great job. Thank you so much.
Later on the trail, as we headed out of our last Wyoming camp, I asked Ben if he had any last words about his time as wagonmaster. He said he hated to see it come to an end, but is glad we got through Wyoming without too many mishaps. He feels we got through OK and is really pleased with that. He really looks forward to another wagon train next year.
Wyoming has not been a picnic state to go through. I can imagine the pioneers thinking that life couldn't get much harder. I probably will remember Wyoming with mixed emotions. It has been a very tough lesson in endurance, but we have learned the best lessons about what this trek is all about.
Before I close this chapter in Wyoming, I discovered the name of the wonderful woman in Evanston who brought our troops hot chocolate on that terribly cold, rainy day. She has helped with our quilt and coordinated efforts for our meals in this area. Thanks to you, Paulette Stevens. You are the epitome of what is good and kind and strong about Wyoming. I am sure I do not know everything that you have done for us, but our warm thanks to you and to those who helped you. HappyNetTrekking!
I am in awe of your wildness and wonder......
Of your boundless space and endless horizons
Of your timeless scenery and never-ending roads.
Though I have passed from plains to mountain beauty
I cannot comprehend the vastness of your being.
You gracefully accepted our little band of
Led us unknowingly from the innocent, level paths
of the plains
To the harsh reality of mountain trails.
Through the tough and difficult hours, come
the greater lessons learned.
Dark days produce the greater appreciation
for the light.
So, have we trod the hills and mountains,
Slept on the sage-strewn land and felt the
Icy fingers of July rains.
We thus are learning the greater ways
of a wise life and the
Joys of simplicity.
I admire the stamina and unselfishness of your
And praise their kindnesses for the
I stand in awe of you, Wyoming.
Grateful for your being.
Grateful for this wild land that will be
Grateful for the lessons of life you teach.