DNA-X 2014 #7 Wyoming Safari
The dust, the ever-present western dust… that’s where we left off. We aim Blue north, down a dusty Colorado road and into Wyoming until we reach a favorite haunt, Jackson Hole. Grand Teton National Park, national forest lands and Yellowstone National Park frame this amazing valley. The Snake River and numerous tributaries course their way through this dramatic scenery. We land at the Wort Hotel in downtown Jackson to get some civilization and stock up once again on supplies.
Dust and off the grid left us with a pile of laundry in need of attention. Using any hotel laundry is off limits on this trip for economic reasons. By our calculations, it would be cheaper to buy new clothes instead! So, I find the nearest Laundromat in town and settle in for the duration. It appears that this venue is the local hangout where the free TV soccer game drew more fans than the laundry machines. The fact that a mop hadn’t been allowed in this place for years made it imperative to keep the now clean clothes quarantined! Mission accomplished and we head out to survey our next off the grid location. Requirements: high clearance 4-wheel drive only – check. Blue’s got this one. No cell/internet/phone – check. The relatives have been notified. Map/directions to the place – semi-check. We downloaded the “directions” and decided, since they were somewhat complicated, we would locate the first part of the trail so we wouldn’t waste time tomorrow.
We consult the GPS, IPad and paper map. We are trying to find historic Flat Creek Ranch, about 15 miles above Jackson, through the National Elk Refuge and beyond on a battered jeep trail. While exploring various dirt roads we get stopped by a local who announces we are way off on our directions. He advises us to “save the wear on your vehicle and call them to pick you up”. Hummm. Undeterred, we head back to town and have great meal at Trio about a block from the hotel.
Loaded up and ready to trek, we take the written directions and bag the electronics. As requested, we try to call the ranch as we enter the refuge so they know to go look for us if we don’t show up. No answer. Oh well, here we go! Dust flying behind us, we get to the forest service road where we leave regular vehicles behind. Then it’s “take the left trail, do NOT take the right trail, look for the lone pine tree on the right, stay straight, rock slide on the left, go slowly…etc” Progressively, the track worsens. The one lane trail slants precariously toward the steep drop-off on the right. Numberless large rocks punctuate the potholes and fill the crusty tire tracks. You don’t want to meet anyone going the other way on this road. Suddenly we are in a blinding willow thicket with a stream rushing through it. “Little Africa” they call it, this fits the directions. On and up we go, passing cascading creeks and dense forest.
At last we reach a dead-end and small cabins come into view. Beyond, is a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Trout filled Flat Creek gently flows past the cabins and down toward Jackson. Solar panels power the ranch with a back up generator. Our hosts Trey and Shelby show us to our restored, vintage cabin and point out the bear spray on the bedside table. “We’ve never had a problem but take it with you at all times, just in case…” Certainly looks like bear country! The stunning scenery is complemented by the equally impressive chef who cooks up three delicious meals a day and what ever else anyone wants. You can ride, fish, hike or just relax, all are perfect.
Our time went quickly here and departure day featured torrential rain. The other guests cringed. I wondered what “Little Africa” would look like today? Oh, that road…remember the dust? Transformed, the dust was now treacherous mud, slick as ice. The road was part swamp and all quagmire, but we are lucky, we have Blue!