Saturday, August 3, 2013


Now, how could you ignore a post with a title like that, huh?

On the last day of Kali's and my July sojourn in the interior West (versus San Diego on the West Coast, which is where we flew the next day), we completed a 3-mile circuit hike on the Turtle Rock Trail at Vedauwoo (pronounced VEE-da-voo), 20 miles east of Laramie, Wyoming.

This 10 square mile area of imposing rock formation is an eastern outlier of the Wind River-Proutt National Forest surrounding Pole Mountain on the Wyoming plains.  Vedauwoo is an Arapaho word meaning "earth born;" ancient Indians believed that these magnificent rock formations were created by playful spirits.   The area was considered a sacred place where young Native American men went on vision quests - perfect for such purposes (especially if hallucinogenic concoctions were involved) because the oddly jumbled rocks resemble myriad shapes.

Vedauwoo is well-known as one of the premier rock climbing and bouldering sites in the West.  As I waited while Kali used the restroom, I spoke with a climber from Moab, Utah who said she comes to Vedauwoo (a long day's drive) because "it's not crowded, it's cool, and it's beautiful."  But there are also camping sites, picnic areas, and trails through and around the rocks, which is why we visited.

Most of the Turtle Rock Trail is out in full sun, but portions are in shady aspen groves.
Turtle Rock Trail
A composite with a moth (I don't know my western wildflowers -yet)
Kali, who rarely uses the camera, snatched it out of my hand to make this image
The rocks at Vedauwoo are approximately 1.4 billion years old.  Magma welled up in a dome from the earth's mantle but never broke through to the surface to create a volcano.  Erosion eventually removed the overlying rock and exposed the cooled, solidified Sherman granite.  Endlessly repeated freezing-thawing cycles and the wind carved the stone mass into fanciful boulders and spires.
Between a rock and a hard place
I'm glad there was no earthquake while I was standing here!
A view eastward

A wooden bison skull
Even though the trail is mostly exposed to the sun, the rocks are at an elevation of 8,200 feet, which moderated the temperature quite a bit and allowed us to complete the hike in mid-afternoon in mid-summer.

Kali on the sunny trail

More rocks, viewed across a beaver meadow

A study in orange

Mayan sphinx
Nearing the end of the trail circuit
My followers may remember that four days earlier, Kali had badly sprained her left ankle and wrenched her right knee when she stepped off a high curb in Fort Collins; in a way, it's remarkable that we could complete this hike at all.  But, wouldn't you know it, along the final portion of the trail, Kali caught her toe on a rock embedded and went down again!  This time, she skidded on her right hand and scraped open the heel of her palm.  Gentle cleaning, sympathy, and an adhesive bandage were in order back at the restroom.
Some of the most imposing pylons, near trail's end
Hiking the Turtle Rock Trail was the highlight of our 10 days in the west this summer.

Bidding us adieu just short of the parking lot


robin andrea said...

I had forgotten how beautiful Wyoming is. Those rock formations are truly grand. What a great place to hike.

Hope Kali is all healed and well.

Mark P said...

This is great. I'm going to try to note these places and try to get out that way sometime. It just makes me wish I was there right now.

packrat said...

Beautiful images, Scott. Love the rodents.

Don't worry about not knowing your Western wildflowers yet. I've lived out here since 1977 and I still don't know most of them.


Scott said...

Robin Andrea: Kali went to our GP this week and learned (to no one's surprise) that she had baldly wrenched her knee and probably torn some ligaments. She's got a referral to an orthopedic doctor, but hasn't made an appointment yet. I wish she would, because she says her knee hurts all the time.

Scott said...

If it's hot an humid your way right now, you DO wish you were at 8,200 feet in arid Wyoming, Mark!

Scott said...

Packrat: I must have taken a dozen pictures of those rodents (which I'd call chipmunks but which Westerners might call ground much to learn) and this was the only image in which both of them were in focus. I did come out all right, though.