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Goodbye Green River

I love this place. I love the open space and the incredible light. I like the people for the most part, even though many have strongly expressed some outrageously erroneous ideas about wildlife and the environment.

View-2Bfrom-2BtrailerI’m finding that most Wyoming-ans have an irrational hatred of wolves and blame them alone for diminishing game, refusing to believe that it could have anything to do with the changing environment or, just maybe, being a lousy hunter. “The only good wolf is a dead wolf” seems to be the prevailing view, even among certain wild horse specialists.


Every day here has an incredible sunrise and sunset and I am reluctant to leave my awesome (free) camp. I can see the next cold, wet weather system coming up from the Uintas and patchy grey-blue clouds are smearing across the sky.

I’d prefer a safer, lower elevation.

Find my trailer on the skyline about 1/3 from left margin.

Find my trailer on the skyline about 1/3 from left margin.

A call to my friends Julie and Jerry in Green River for advice results in an invitation to park next to their house for the night. Once again, their generosity has fulfilled a need that I didn’t have to express. I admire their “git ‘er done” ethic.


I first met Julie and her friend Aileen when I was trying unsuccessfully to get water from the city pump. Turns out you need “the code,” which they had and proceeded to generously fill my jerry cans, invited me for a girls’ wine and manicure session at Aileen’s followed by dinner at Julie’s where I met her husband Jerry and their eleven year old daughter Jayden.
Jerry works at the Bridger Power Plant, built next to the rich, high grade Rock Springs coal mine, which has been giving it up for over a century and supplies power to ten western states. He gave me the numbers for the plant coal consumption, which boggle the mind.
When all four units are running the plant burns 1,200 tons of coal per hour. In 2013 they burned 8 million tons of coal. He put that in perspective for me: one rail car holds 110 tons of coal and a coal train is 100 cars. The plant uses one entire train of coal every 11 hours, 365 days a year. Which is why they built the plant at the mouth of the mine. Saves on shipping.
To my surprise I saw a Wired Magazine’s April 2014 cover story “Coal: It’s Dirty, It’s Dangerous and It’s the Future of Clean Energy,” promptly rebutted by Sierra Magazine’s April 03, 2014 answer Sorry Wired, Coal Isn’t the “Future of Clean Energy.” As usual, it’s hard for a citizen to know what the heck is going on. Which is why I am doing my own research on the wild horse debacle.

A few days ago Julie, Jaydan, Aileen and I went out on ATV’s. I never thought I’d ride one of those noisy abominations, but I reluctantly admit it was fun, and we traversed terrain I could never have accessed otherwise. It was a golden late afternoon.


We were in search of the spring that the Pilot Butte horses go to for water. I was told to go due west from an old wellhead a few miles past my camp. I had ridden (pushed) my bike at least fifteen miles one hot day searching for it unsuccessfully. We rode for probably thirty miles that afternoon, finally finding the spring, dropping down to the floor and following a long canyon. The earth here is thick adobe clay and down near the spring it was even more alkali, the white dust rising and then hanging in the air, especially deep in the canyon where there’s not much breeze to blow it off. I inhaled a lot of dust that afternoon. The spring is basically a giant mud pit since all the hoofed animals tear up any vegetation surrounding it. You can tell when the horses have been to the spring the previous night because they are caked with mud from rolling.

Several locals had told me they see a hundred horses at the spring but today was not that day. We continued south from the spring, back toward civilization and noticed that there were hoof prints leading into and back out of the spring on the south side so we still hoped to see horses.

Finally Julie spotted a few on a distant hillside, then further along another three. We shut down the ATV’s and Julie and Jaydan walked slowly toward the horses. They got very close and one of the two mares slowly grazed her way toward them. Later Julie said, “They aren’t wild horses, they’re horses in the wild.” She told me that the stallion had a very badly infected penis. We tend to think it’s all fun and games out there for the horses, running wild and free, but it’s not. It’s tough.


Aileen wanted to try one more place so we circled back up to near my camp and off to the north we spotted part of the band that has been hanging out around camp. We watched yet another stunning sunset, and headed back to town. Can’t say an ATV is high on my want list, but it was a great way to experience in a few hours stunning country I could not have reached otherwise, except by backpacking and over several days.

The wind is picking up bringing the wet weather system sooner than later. I need to get off this mesa now. Overnight and then goodbye to Green River and off to Rawlins where Christie from Carbon County’s only no-kill rescue, www.caringlearningconnection.orgwill take me Monday to find some wild horses she has been observing for years.


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