June 18, 1997
Location: Martin's Cove - 302 miles left, Wyoming - Not mentioned in Clayton's journal. Fifty-six members of the Martin Handcart Company died here while waiting out a fierce storm, November 1856. - About 707 miles from Winter Quarters.
Summary: A delayed day into Martins Cove area and Sun Ranch.
Journal entry: I awoke early and ran down to the Porta Potties. It is incredible to me that I am here at Independence Rock, on the Mormon Trail, and am actually overlooking the Sweetwater River.
The sunrise is a gorgeous scene. I relish the beauty of these mornings when the Master Painter does such an incredible job with the colors of the sunrise. It begins with dark oranges and turns to dark pinks. There are several clouds around and about, although the day appears to be a lovely one.
I walk down a dirt road towards the sunrise. The bluff overlooking the river is just to my right. It is still dark, except for the colors in the eastern sky. There is no wind. There is a cement pillar about four feet high marking the actual Mormon/Oregon trail. It is not a two lane dirt road, but an indentation in the earth about five feet wide and now covered with grasses, flowers, and sagebrush. It appears to come through the meadow, over the bluff, and down into a meadow that is encircled by the river below.
I wonder how many thousands of feet walked over this place many years ago, while today the land belongs to private individuals, and is fenced and marked with No Trespassing signs.
I think the people who walked this way were not much different than I. I'm sure their excitement at reaching this place was great, and I think there was an older woman with a great appreciation of beautiful things in nature. I don't think I am unusually different in my viewpoint of the world and the creations that are here. I am in constant awe of the glorious sunrises, the cloud formations, the beauty of rivers and streams with banks of luscious green grasses and occasional spots of yellows and blues and purples in the flowers. I watch the seven pelicans below on the riverbank and follow the flight of a bird, followed by two smaller ones.
I am suddenly buffeted by a strong north wind. It is cold. I turn around and see dark, puffy clouds and wonder what this turn in the weather is all about. In spite of the cold wind, the sunrise continues. I think that it must be quite a sight on the top of Independence Rock, but all I have is the view from the bluff, near the swift-flowing river below. The gusty winds gently push me over the side and I walk down into the meadow below. It is not far to the river. The current is fast. It is evident that there has been a lot of rain this Spring, for the meadows are soggy.
To the west the puffy, soft clouds are a delicate color of pink. It is interesting that at times the west sky is more beautiful during the sunrise than the east sky. I never have my camera when I need it. This sunrise is just beautiful. I am hoping my girls open the curtains and at least take a peak. It is too cold to stand out here longer and the sun crests over the ocean desert.. Time to run back to the camper and get out of this wind.
Our departure today was delayed about three hours. There has been a miscommunication among the ranks as to what the legal requirements are for walking and moving a wagon train along Wyoming highways. I guess a pilot car with correct signage is required both at the front and the rear of the train, and we are without a rear car. The bosses are scrounging up the correct legal requirements to continue.
We left Independence Rock, but not before I had a chance to hike to the top and read a few of the names there. I guess the really old names are in a cave on the side. There are names there from 1847 and beyond. It is quite a monument to the people in the wagon trains of years gone by.
We finally got on the road just as a storm blew by, so it was kind of exciting for a while. Our trek today was relatively short only about ten miles, mostly on paved highway. We took off on a dirt road that led into the Sun Ranch near the Church historical site of Martins Cove. On the road into the ranch we passed Devils Gate - a huge tall split in the mountain where the Sweetwater River flows through. This is quite an impressive sight actually.
It was on this road that one of our favorite outriders did something quite unusual. Russ Leger, the wagonmaster of the Ox Bow group, was celebrating his 48th birthday today. He is really the favorite cowboy of the walkers because he cares about us and our needs and spends a lot of time with us, whereas the other riders always go ahead with the wagons. So, he got down off his horse and actually pulled Ted's handcart. This was Russ' birthday present from Ted. Ted doesn't let just anybody pull his cart, so it was quite a priviledge for Russ. I tried to get a picture of this historic event!!!! We were hoping Russ didn't get any blisters on his feet. You know how cowboy boots can be sometimes. Happy Birthday, Russ.
We passed the new visitors center at Martins Cove and went on down the road about three miles to set up camp. It is truly a beautiful sight. The rocky rounded hills to the north of camp with the river flowing between camp and the hills, is just a grand sight. Martins Cove area is to the right a ways, if you are facing the river. The far distant peaks to the left are Fridays destination. The area is incredibly lush and green, but I understand because of the rain, this is a very unusual year. We are camped in grass that is 10 to 12 inches high.
Tonight we had a drenching rain race through camp and get everything
wet. But these high mounain storms are so forgiving. After their
roaring passage the skies clear, we saw a triple rainbow with all
the spectrum of colors, and the sunset was lovely. The clouds up
here are massive, but beautifully formed. It was a lovely day. Tomorrow
we stay here and rest. It will be nice.