This seems like an unlikely place for climbers, yet each year you can find a gaggle of semi-awkward out-of-towners hanging round the edges of the dance floor (i.e. the dirt road), perhaps adding to their strangeness by miming beta or indulging in other odd climber behavior. While they come for the beautiful swathe of limestone cliffs in the nearby canyon, anyone with any sense will head down to town for the cultural experience of the Ten Sleep Hoedown. This year was particularly memorable for me, as I had the golden opportunity of riding a mechanical bull for the first time- it was extraordinarily hard, by the way.
|Red, white, blue and Budweiser.|
|Esplanada, 12d. Dan Brayack image.|
|And... more Esplanada... Eric Horst image.|
|Jenn Flemming on Dances with Cows, 13a|
|Ten Sleep Limestone.|
On another day, while climbing, a giant tree spontaneously emitted a thunderous cracking sound, like an avalanche of rocks, and snapped at its base. As it feel, it smashed into the trees surrounding it, erupting with a cloud of splinters of various sizes, some small enough to rise in the breeze and billow in the air. The sound and sight were frightening and beautiful, as so many things in this world simultaneously are.
|Trying in vain to capture the beauty of the full moon reflecting on an alpine lake.|
And another day- As we drove back to our campsite one evening, the sand-colored limestone canyons were washed red by the simmering light of the prairie sunset, the colors intensified and saturated by the smoke of the wildfires burning down the plains. The land seemed to be saying something over and over, repeating a message like a mantra, and I strained my ears to hear it, leaning into the wind and listening with my whole body. The canyons and cliffs and plateaus and trees and sagebrush and rocks and hardy wildflowers were all saying it together, this repetitive sentence or word, speaking of existence and living and being on this planet, under this sun, beneath this sky, within this pocket of space and stars, enfolded like a letter in an envelope, safe but blazingly bright and utterly intense. I kept trying to listen, to understand, because I know that my life is no different than that of the rocks and shrubs and prairie birds, and whatever truth they're proclaiming with every moment of their being must also be my truth, and I have only to hear it and recover it in order to live in such genuine harmony and honesty as they do.
I left Wyoming feeling full of experience, washed clean by the dust and wind, purified by the rock, cleansed by the plains. Until next year, and the next Independence Day.