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 The Trek: The Journals

Recent Journal Entries

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Team: North
Robert Ashley
Thursday, September 26
Thursday, September 26, 2002. Pine Valley Campground near Kamas, UT

Bullet holes riddle the cow silhouettes on Wyoming’s signs which advise motorists “Open Range. Watch for Cattle,” but similar signs in Utah are clear, at least in the Uinta Mountain region we passed through today. And what a beautiful region it is! We’ve crossed and re-crossed the Wyoming-Utah border during the moves of the past several days, and we were all impressed with the contrast between the arid sagebrush of southwest Wyoming and the cooler forested Uintas. Tuesday’s move was memorable because of the almost incredulous challenge of the narrow, rocky roadway and the wondrous beauty of the mountains, trees, and streams. Cheryl and I drove the trucks with trailers; we were separated from the rest of the team but communicated with each other on the portable phones. We repeatedly conveyed our awe and delight of the landscape; at one point we stopped to snap photos of the creek we forded to guarantee credibility for the stories we would tell.

Today’s move was equally spectacular. We convinced Charlie to abandon the interstate route he had planned and to travel by secondary road south from Evanston (WY) to Pine Valley. Even the short stretch of I-80 between Mountain View and Evanston felt uncomfortable, so alien to the backcountry “feel” to which we had grown accustomed. I immediately felt relieved when we escaped the traffic of multiple lanes—where speed and lane maneuvering are primary concerns—to the sparsely traveled secondary road, where the landscape assumed prominence. The most frequently encountered vehicles on these roads tend to be the distinctive pale green Forest Service pickups. The color is not an appropriate “forest green” color, but it is unmistakable, and I was mildly disappointed when I learned that new F.S. trucks will be white.

The night at Bridger Lake had been our coldest yet—ice on tents and frozen water tank valve!—but the bright sunshine warmed the day into the 80s. The sunlight also highlighted the spectacular fall color displays of the aspen groves, the colors of the quaking leaves ranging from mostly brilliant yellow to red-orange and contracting sharply with their white trunks and the dark green of pines and spruces. I’m reminded of the explanation that the multiple trees in aspen groves are really all the same organism as they are connected by their root systems. The Uintas were in view the whole way, at first in the distance as purple and blue and gray shapes topped with snow. Utah’s highest peak, Mt. King at about 13,500 feet, was visible, but it was snow-capped Mt. Gilbert –the second highest—that was the more spectacular sight.

Joe Hickey showed up in our Hoops Lake Campground on Tuesday evening, located at about 9,300’ elevation. He had been tracing our progress on the internet, he said, and he wanted to meet us. He shared the history of his family’s 150 years of ranching at Lonetree, WY, and described the geography of the area. We listened intently to him while gathered around the campfire, made possible by his work with his chainsaw. In a brief afternoon session, he had cut enough firewood to last us until the end of the week.

The immediacy of the trek’s impending conclusion gathered momentum Wednesday evening. At Charlotte’s suggestion, we selected persons by drawing names of other team members from a hat. Without revealing identities until the last moment, each person prepared a short description of his/her “secret person” and that person’ contribution to the trek. Most presentations were accompanied with gifts, some gag and some serious. More sobering was the session which followed. We each lit candles and described what the trek meant to us. It was an emotional ceremony, and there were not many dry eyes.
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Team: North
Robert Ashley
Tuesday, September 24
Tuesday, September 24, 2002. 11:30 a.m. Cedar Springs Marina near Flaming Gorge Dam.

I had my boat ride yesterday afternoon on Flaming Gorge Reservoir, so I volunteered to “shuttle” today. Actually, after 15 minutes on the boat, I was both chilly and bored and ready to be back in camp. The prospect of spending all morning on a “thrilling” boat ride did not excite me, particularly as it was about 40 degrees at launch time. Cheryl, Stephen, and I drove the Hondas to the meeting place at Cedar Springs Marina, and I thoroughly enjoyed the twisting mountainous drive on Highway 191. We hurried to get here before the boat. We arrived about 10:00, and it is now 11:30. No boat. No surprise.

We camped at Firehole Canyon for the past two nights in a campground closed to all but our use. The site commanded a spectacular view of the reservoir and the “chimney rocks” area. I took advantage of one of the dozen or so picnic areas, the tables sheltered from the wind on two sides and from the sun and rain with a partial roof. Rather than setting up my tent, I slept on a table. A combination of factors contributed to a very memorable Sunday evening. The anticipation of the trek’s end may have drawn us closer to one another. We gathered around a campfires and enjoyed the full moon, the equinox, Dave’s music (guitar, harmonica, and voice), and a special camaraderie.

Bob van Deven and I got up early Monday to do some photography in the Firehole Canyon and Flaming Gorge areas. We may have gotten a few good shots, but I don’t recall anything extraordinary. The early morning drive was interesting, though, on another of those twisting, up-and-down but good gravel roads. We discovered the road had claimed a pair of victims the night before as we rounded a curve and sharp drop of 60-80’. A pickup truck sat upright at the bottom of a narrow ravine, its tire tracks clearly marked on the sheer cliff face. The occupants were not seriously hurt. They had attempted to walk back to the highway, but after two hours they realized that the distance was too great. Cold, they returned to the truck to wait for help. We drove them to Rock Springs and spent several hours running errands.

Rock Springs advertises itself as a city which has 56 nationalities represented among its citizens, and the street light posts are adorned with national flags. I presume they represent the multiple nationalities and that if I looked long enough I’d find them all. I was therefore surprised to find no ethnic restaurants downtown. At the edge of town, the “Sands” is obviously a Chinese restaurant, and the largest laughing Buddha in Wyoming greets visitors at the street. The menu announced “American and Chinese foods,” but the Chinese listing was for full dinners. Bob v. ordered chicken cordon bleu and I requested the Greek lamb gyro on pita.

“Is the chef Chinese?” I asked the waiter, wondering if he was versatile enough to do justice to our orders. “Yeh,” he responded. “But we have another guy to do the American stuff.”
Biographical Info
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Team: North
Robert Ashley
Bob Ashley poses with school children at the Wyoming Hunting and Fishing Heritage Exposition 2002
. Robert Ashley is a teacher from Illinois.
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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 26
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, September 24
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, September 21
Robert Ashley
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Friday, September 20
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, September 19
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, September 18
Robert Ashley
Kemmerer
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Tuesday, September 17
Robert Ashley
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Monday, September 16
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, September 15
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, September 14
Robert Ashley
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Friday, September 13
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, September 11
Robert Ashley
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Monday, September 9
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, September 7
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, September 4
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, September 3
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, September 1
Robert Ashley
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Friday, August 30
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, August 29
Robert Ashley
Stoddard Creek (F.S.) campground
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Wednesday, August 28
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, August 25
Robert Ashley
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Friday, August 23
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, August 22
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 21
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, August 20
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, August 17
Robert Ashley
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Friday, August 16
Robert Ashley
Meyer Hill
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Thursday, August 15
Robert Ashley
Aspen Grove
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Wednesday, August 14
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, August 13
Robert Ashley
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Monday, August 12
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, August 11
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 7
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 7
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 7
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, August 4
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, August 3
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, August 1
Robert Ashley
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