(click pictures to enlarge)
(all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia 929 cell phone)
I'm hunkered down in Rawlins, Wyoming for the holidays. Campsites are scarce during the major holidays so I made reservations about a week ago. Rawlins is located in the south-central part of Wyoming just off of I-80. The weather forecast for Yellowstone is looking good for the next two to three weeks so I've decided to head that way. I should be there in about 3 to 4 days.
It was raining when I left Loveland and I drove through it most of the way here. The forecast has a potential for rain almost every day that I'll be here but I got lucky yesterday morning with some good weather. I had hoped for good enough weather to see a couple places north of here.
The first was Independence Rock. It is a large rounded granite outcropping and is a famous and prominent landmark around here. The Oregon, California and Mormon Trails overlap around here as they converge on the South Pass through the Continental Divide. During a 25 year period between 1844 and 1869, more than 500,000 people passed through this area on their way west. Most of the emigrants would leave Missouri and head up the Missouri River to either Independence, Missouri or Omaha, Nebraska where they struck out to the west along the North Platte River. Most couldn't afford passage on a boat so they walked, using the rivers as a guide. The North Platte River took them across Nebraska and into Wyoming. Around Casper, Wyoming they left the river and began their overland route. The first landmark they used as a guide was Independence Rock which they could see for a couple of days before reaching it. It was common for the emigrants to camp around the rock and some scratched their names and dates into it. Some of those are still visible today. I wonder if the writer of the old movie Red Dawn got the idea about the kids scratching the names of their dead into Patriot Rock from what the emigrants did at Independence Rock.
After passing Independence Rock, the emigrants looked for Devil's Gate which is a very visible opening in the rocky cliffs. The Sweetwater River flows through the gate so it was impassable to travelers. Instead, people would pass through Rattlesnake Pass, located just to south of the gate. Once they went through the pass they were greeted by the wide open Sweetwater Valley which has the Sweetwater River meandering through it. They would follow this river towards the South Pass.
The Mormons have a very nice museum with well-informed tour guides located at the gate. It is to commemorate a group a Mormons who took refuge from the weather in a cove near the gate. They arrived to late in the year and was stranded by winter weather for which they weren't prepared. A group was sent out of Salt Lake City in time to rescue the group. It is a nice place to visit with lots of friendly people.
I ate my lunch a little past noon and watched the storm clouds roll in across the valley. I ended up driving through rain and graupel on the way back to Rawlins. Graupel is a term I learned in Oregon and is sometimes called "soft hail". I've run across it several times since Oregon so it is more common than I thought.
I'll pull out of here Tuesday morning and head west for a couple hundred miles before stopping for a couple days along Bear Lake. The lake sits on the border of Utah and Idaho and is supposed to be a very pretty blue. I'll compare it to Lake Huron and Crater Lake.
|One of the rest areas between|
Loveland and Rawlins. Storms everywhere
|The weather cleared long enough to|
set up camp.
|Notice my next door neighbor by the|
electrical pedestal. A little prairie dog
that has a couple of holes nearby.
|Wide view of the campground showing|
|On the way to explore the north. The|
puffy clouds and bright blue sky was
|The Sweetwater Valley. It was a "wow" moment at first sight|
|Running parallel with the mountains|
|Devil's Gate is that notch in the|
|Devil's Gate on the left and Rattlesnake|
Pass straight ahead
|Typical Mormon hand cart. Since most|
couldn't afford a wagon and horses or
oxen, they pulled this cart themselves
with all of their belongings.
|Independence Rock ahead|
|Panoramic view of the rock.|
|I found two benches this time.|
|My mother would call this, "a cloud coming in". Lightening and downpours were part of it.|