14. Wyoming Roads
landscape became featureless and desolate as I headed to my intended
campsite but on arrival found I had misread the directions and was 30
miles north of the actual place. It
was sunset so I laid out my tent in a field.
A horse watched me intently, then sprinted purposefully off.
Some farmers here are very territorial and “keep out” and “No
Trespassing” signs are common so I hoped the horse wasn’t like the
movie ones that whinny at their owners door until someone says, “Quiet
everybody! Triggers trying to tell us something. Maybe there are trespassers on the range”.
But no one came and I passed a peaceful night.
was however, very cold and just past dawn I went to a crossroads café for
coffee and porridge. The
local farmers were already gathered there discussing crops and the
weather. The area from here
East was experiencing a severe drought and they were worried.
In front of me was South Pass, the continental divide which is more
of a gentle open slope than a dramatic gateway so it was favoured by travellers. It does however
reach 7,300 feet and snow flakes flew around me as I rode shivering over. The Pony route from here followed the path of the emigrant
wagons along the Sweetwater and North Platt rivers.
stopped at Devils Gate information center.
This is where disaster beset a group of Mormon immigrants.
Parties of these would migrate from the railhead to Salt Lake
pushing or pulling all their food, shelter and few belongings in
handcarts; a feat of tremendous endurance.
Eight groups successfully made the journey but two left too late in
the season and were caught on the plains in severe weather.
Many died before rescuers reached them.
The guide said, “You know, you don’t need to be Superman to
make the journey, older men and children did it, but you do need inner
strength”. I was ashamed
again of my failure to do the trip by bicycle.
It was in this area that legend has it a young William Cody, later to become the famous Buffalo Bill, made a Pony ride of 384 miles non-stop, however, historians believe that though he was employed by Russell Majors and Waddell, the stories of his Pony exploits are invention.