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A walk in Wyoming

09/18/04 12:00AM By Alan Boye
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(Host) Commentator Alan Boye has recently been walking the wilds of Wyoming. What he found there made him feel right at home.


(Boye) We stand at the edge of the wild, rugged canyon. Below, a shining river slices a silver gash straight through the Rocky Mountains. How different this place is from the hills of Vermont! Not a single tree grows on the opposite side of the canyon from us.

Over there the slopes are covered in pale yellow prairie grass. Sagebrush, and rocks as red as fire dot the hills. On this side of the canyon, in the cool shadows of the north facing slopes, are dark lodgepole pines that rise, straight as arrows, into brilliant golden sunlight, in skies that are not cloudy all day.

I strap on the big backpack, trying not to notice how heavy it is. I'm carrying a lot of camping gear, because we don't expect to walk back out of the Wyoming wilderness for several days.

My wife and I are hiking one of the most isolated places in the Rockies. We drove nearly an hour from Laramie on one of the loneliest roads in America just to reach the trailhead. Our goal is to hike down the rugged canyon to where the trail eventually disappears at an isolated, nearly impenetrable canyon smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

We start down the faint trail and walk for hours. We follow the path as it meanders back and forth along side the wild and winding river, marveling at the stunning beauty that is everywhere around us.

On the sunny slopes prickly pear cacti are in full bloom; each green, spiky pad of the cactus is rimmed with brilliant yellow flowers. We stop to listen to the fluid warble of a canyon wren. In the cool shadows of the pine forest we startle a young family of prairie grouse. They scramble through the weeds like barnyard chickens.

Long ago the Cheyenne traveled this trail. They knew these mountains as home, but since that time very few humans have walked this path.

In late afternoon we set up camp in a small grove of aspen trees, then swim naked in the cooling waters of the river. Before nightfall, I hang our food high in a tree, safe from bears.

In the morning we strap on our backpacks, and walk. The sun rises above the canyon wall and turns the rimrock to gold. We follow the path along the river. I watch the bright sunlight glimmering on the silver water, deeply thankful for the solitude wilderness provides.

Just then I hear a noise, and then see a man walking towards us on the trail. We stop to talk. He is flyfishing. Aside from a couple of his east coast buddies who are fishing further up this river, we are the first people he's seen in days.

"Where are you from?" I ask.
"Me?" he says, "Well, I'm a long ways from home. I'm from Vermont. How about you?" I laugh, and then tell him.

So, even in the remote wilderness of Wyoming, this is Alan Boye, just walking the hills of Vermont.

Alan Boye teaches at Lyndon State College. He spoke from our studio at the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury. His latest book is titled, "Just Walking the Hills of Vermont."
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