Horse Creek

What is value? Tucked way up on the belt of a hollow in Wyoming I discovered value is what can be carried out. To Illuminate what I mean this anecdote needs to be put into place.

Northern Wyoming is one of the strongest landscapes the eyes can see. This anthropomorphic landscape is hardened, unshaven and all around reflects the life here. It’s no secret her rugged beauty formed in the most cataclysmic events on the planet. Today, off the beaten path I discovered its’ grandeur shared, preserved and appreciated.

Horse Creek is a mighty, little creek. Flowing through the sleepy town center of Dubois, most people don’t know to see or, care to explore the genesis of a stream running five feet wide and three deep. On the surface,  a small stream like Horse Creek could never have big origins. Right? A 45 minute drive from the town of Dubois (located near the South Gate of Jellystone), is where I began my search. 

The idea came while staying at The Black Bear Inn, located within the still slow town of Dubois. I was introduced to some guests down by a campfire the motel puts on every night (very cool concept if your ever passing through this town), after a short conversation of mutual interest, it was decided that the guest (Rick) and I were going fly fishing up through Horse Creek.

6:00 a.m. the next day came quickly, so after coffee and then stopping for more coffee we were on our way. The remainder of the drive was eventless as we followed the lazy stream up through its hollow in search of its beginnings. To preserve local trust, I won’t say exactly the name of the place we ended up however, for grand reasons the locals keep the origin to themselves. The canyon holds within its walls a convergence of three separate glacial springs, teeming with fish. The rare piece about the canyon is that the floor is tiled with petrified wood.

Upon arrival the view was spectacular. It took a moment for the eyes to consume the vertical canyon walls casting separate shadows on the valley floor where we sat. After a long look and a few words of ballyhoo Rick and I split direction in search of fish. decisively, I took the west most spring and fished my way past a ranger cabin, moose beds and a few locals. The streams are so rich with fish that one actually has a careful time just walking along.

Nature has a quiet way of quickly taking the self out of the mind.  I was fishing and hiking in this singular place when I found myself several miles from the truck. For the curious, the petrified wood we found was agatized meaning it sells for 4 dollars a pound. This is where the question of value comes in. Around mile two or three I spotted a piece beautiful, coursed with color and forty odd pounds. $160 for those doing the math.

On an adventure equipment preserves and comforts the Journey. Equipment is also where my feet were lacking. Don’t buy skeletoe shoes. For those of you in the market, as comfortable as they are in the store, functionality is not their sale point. I would walk, they would keep collecting small rocks. Several times I would stop and empty the rocking party going on in my shoes.

To focus on the story, I was at a pivotal point. Deciding to carry out this tremendous petrified tree or, leave it where it lay and regret (keep in mind I was carrying my fly rod and other gear already). I couldn’t leave it. Having more strength than common sense, I decided to make this tree my turn around point. Gathering the enormous piece out of the water, I headed back.

The Return hike was not at all comfortable. I left a little blood and a little sweat on the uneven ground back. To practice redundancy, the moral of the story is that it was worth bringing the wood back because now I can buy a new pair of shoes. The real things we get to carry with us are a lot more weighty than forty pounds. I got the privilege of remembering and photographing the tremendous cliffs and streams around us; those weigh more than the comparative petrified tree. Still though, new hiking shoes for the Mississippi.

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