June 24, 1997
Location: Silver Creek, Wyoming
Summary: Sweetwater Station and the river; to Rocky Ridge Camp
Journal entry: We left the beautiful Sweetwater Station at 7AM. We headed up the highway to the west . After a few miles we took off on a dirt road to the left and started into the deep back country....BLM land. This country is so desolate. It goes on and on with just sagebrush, a little green grass and a few flowers (thanks to the recent rains).
You can see the far distant mountains of the Windriver country straight ahead and a little to the right. They are still covered with white snow and offer a challenge that I will never accept. They are grand and awesome and so much higher than anything else around.
Our goal is South Pass, just to the left of the Windriver area. To get to South Pass, we have what appears to be miles and miles of dirt and sagebrush and hills that go up and up and up. Then as soon as you get to the top, they go down and down and down. But the road doesn't stop there. It just keeps on going with up and up and up and beyond that hill are more downs. It seems to just go on and on and on.
We are pushing these handcarts. They don't go away. They only go on. So, as soon as we push them and pull them to the top, it's just another hill ahead. Sometimes I wonder, "So, what is the purpose? Let's just throw them aside and walk to Utah." And sometimes I do that. I get so tired from pushing that I just stop, and walk. Let somebody else do it. The amazing thing is----somebody else does do it. They just step in where I left off and push, or pull. And amazingly enough, when we got to camp, so did the handcarts--all of them. There were a few people who pulled all day, but mostly we all just put in what we could and we got there. I was amazed. Everyday I am amazed.
Our camp is sort of on top of a hill, but it is also below Rocky Ridge and a little to the right. Those ridges look forbidding, but not unlike what we have already gone through, except the rocks appear to be less forgiving.
One of our daywalkers today is Chad, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is here with his wife and family. He says he has been training to come. He rides his mountain bike everyday for several miles. He is really good with the handcart. He has endurance and strength. We talked for a few minutes about being here and ancestors and courage. He truly has the spirit of the Mormon Trail. It is people like you, Chad, that remind me, I am supposed to be here doing what I am doing------That all of us who are here on the train are supposed to be here...doing what we are doing. Thanks for the reminder.
My family shuttled back down to Sweetwater Station to get our vehicles. Art and I decided it would be better to drive our motorhome around this vast wilderness and get to the other side at Atlantic City than drive through. We hit the road, visited that cute town of Lander for a few hours, bought some groceries, and headed back to the train.
In Atlantic city (named because it is on the Atlantic side of South Pass and the Continental Divide), we parked the motorhome in a BLM campground and headed back up to the campsite.....a good 25 miles out in the vastness of nowhere. I am not kidding! We are in the wilderness!
As we came over the pass into Atlantic City, I looked over that huge vast plateau below us and gasped. It is awful. Sorry, Wyoming, but that land out there is the Great Desolation, and that is where the wagon train is. And I thought I had seen great desolation in Utah! There is a lot in Utah, but this is forbidding.
We drove for what seemed to be forever, crested a hill, and looked down onto the wagon train campsite about 5 miles below. The terrain around us was the worst! The land is barren - a few grasses and flowers from recent rains--and some scrub sage, but the rocks are sharp and point straight up. I wondered how those pioneers ever traversed this area. We drove to camp and set up our tent. The plan is to take the walkers over Rocky Ridge tomorrow morning at 6AM. I am excited! We all want to do it. I REALLY want to do it. We went to bed before dark....to get plenty of sleep. It should be a big day tomorrow.
Did I tell you little Jackie, Nancy's 4 year old, fell yesterday and had to be taken to Lander for some stitches in her head? She is doing OK today. We are glad. HappyNetTrekking!