June 17, 1997
Location: Independence Rock - 314 miles left, Wyoming - [Sweetwater River]. (In low water the river is easily forded.) It has a peculiar shape and magnitude. There are many names of visitors painted in various places. on the southeast corner. 698 3/4 miles from Winter Quarters.
Summary: Willow springs to Independence Rock -- Prospect Hill, Sweetwater, and Independence Rock
Journal entry: I am sitting on the bank of the Sweetwater river about to soak my feet after a hot 27 mile trek today. The Sweetwater is quietly moving along at floodwater level. I had to pass through a swampy area to get here, and there were thousands of mosquitoes. All I had to do was wave my hand to kill about 20 at a time. Even here by the river there are a lot. Some fly down and rest on the keyboard until I swat them away.
I am now 50 yards away from the river. The mosquitoes were too ravenous and the river too tempting, so I took off my shoes and hat and took a plunge into the river. It was cool but not cold, and much deeper than the Platte. I enjoyed the cool water after a hot day. Backstroke, breastroke, freestyle -- they all worked well against the current. I had to stay near the banks, though, because the current was very swift in the middle. We, like thousands of pioneers, broke away from the Platte at Casper and headed over to the Sweetwater. The only water inbetween was at willow springs, where we were last night. The Sweetwater will now be our guide across most of Wyoming.
We left an hour early today to be ahead of the wagons and to get up Prospect hill while the weather was still cool. It was a hard climb. We had six people helping to pull our cart, and we were all struggling to get up. The climb was a mile long and the incline was steep. When we got to the top, we stopped and enjoyed the vista. We could see from the North Platte near Casper all the way to Independence Rock and Devil's gate.
It was a long day, but it is pleasant to be here at Independence Rock. Devil's gate was visible for 25 miles. This is the first time we have been able to see our destination from the beginning. As we pulled into our camp at the base of the rock, people cheered for us. They were all over the rock. Some people call it "the turtle of the west".
We were met at camp by the Feezer family: Linda, Stephanie, Josh, and Linda's future husband, Bill. We met them in Casper this weekend and came to love them. They saw us off yesterday morning and asked if we would like to see them at Independence Rock. They had a picnic supper waiting, and we had a great time talking and feasting. Then I climbed up the rock with Josh. We took some pictures and looked around with his binoculars. The face of the rock is smooth and has pioneer names carved all over. Eventually, we went back down the face of the rock and met his parents. We swapped addresses and said goodbye.
The almost full moon is now rising in the east and the sun is setting in the west. East, from where we came. "West, where none shall come to hurt or make afraid. There the saints will be blessed."