Saturday, May 15, 2010

Crazy Woman Creek

I woke up in the middle of the night several times because I didn’t want to oversleep and miss doing my bird points. The coyotes woke me up around 3:30 am with happy yelps and group howling. I remember so many years ago when coyotes use to scare me, and I would have dreams of being ripped apart by a pack of them while camping. The unknown often scares us, lurking just out of sight. I’ve see so many of them that now they don’t scare me, they usually run the other way.

Nick and I hiked over miles of sagebrush after reluctantly climbing out of our somewhat warmer sleeping bags into the cold damp air. I had a hard time putting contacts in my eyes before 5am. We heard lots of Brewer’s sparrows, as well as too many loud meadowlarks calling out songs to defend patches of grass and sage, attracting females into their lonely lives. Rock wrens clung to the small scattered chunks of rock, and I wondered if they knew that better cliffs and rocks are across the earth. A sage thrasher sang his adorable song from a dense group of the fragrant sage bush and a great horned owl nest could be seen in the only tree within miles of rolling hills.

We discovered a freshly killed deer by the coyotes we heard, it head and spinal chord intact but all the meaty parts ripped to pieces and devoured. Fur was left all around it, all that was left was the rib meat, maybe the coyotes couldn’t eat without a knife to cut them into neat BBQ slathered pieces like civilized humans.

A thick blanket of clouds covered the sky completely and they occasionally sprinkled small rain drops on us. I heard something weird, and looked towards a hill just in time to see a sage grouse fly out of some sage, giving us a good view of her black belly. A deer cautiously watched us as well as a coyote later in that morning. Cows could be seen on hilltops and a large group of deer silently passed by just as our survey was ending.

Nick and I drove to Gillette, WY and went into the library. He started to read a book and fell asleep on the comfy sofa, and the librarian told him to wake up or leave. We looked horrible covered in mud from the morning and my hair looks greasy if I don’t shower every night. We parted ways, him going to Ten Sleep, WY to meet up with Erin and me going to Buffalo, WY , but only after a bored cop gave me a speeding ticket. I fibbed and told the cop I was new to the area, and he reminded me that I stayed with Kari for several weeks after leaving the 20 acres behind. He was such a bored cop, he must have been stalking me, the outsider. I then remembered that he had rang the doorbell one afternoon to remind us of a $5 parking ticket that needed to be paid. Was I in Mayberry?

I got to my bird point and was furious when I realized it was behind private land, I would never drive down a private road without permission. I will have to take tomorrow off and figure out all the landownership stuff to reach the point.

I passed down a long winding road outside of Buffalo that follows Crazy Woman Creek, thousands of black Angus cows were eating fresh spring grass with a back drop of hills topped with red dirt. I gave up finding public access to the public Bureau of Land Management Land and went to bed early after setting up my tent on Petrified Tree on BLM land further west.

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