Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hey, You Never Know!

We've just returned from the wilds of Wyoming.


We drove the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Drive, looping from Green River to Rock Springs. The dirt trail climbs up and around 50 miles through the White Mountains, where 2,500 horses run free.

We saw eight.

But those eight run free, across remote buttes and through canyons. Without fences. In Wyoming's wide open spaces. At one point, we looked out upon on an area cradled by three mountain ranges. A sign said Massachusetts would fit on this land, as far as we could see. That's how big it is. And wide open.

Not once did we think about safety.

Before heading out this morning, I read warnings (but didn't heed them) about the desolation of the place we were headed. Take plenty of water. We didn't. Tell someone where you are going. We didn't. Be sure to have a full tank of gas. Did we? And remember, there's no cell service.

None of these precautions seemed relevant. Over the past several months, we've explored intense wilderness in British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska. How dangerous could it be to drive a 50-miles loop from busy Interstate 80?

No problem. We finished the scenic, magnificent drive without delay.

Now we're at McDonalds in Rock Springs, needing to use wifi and get directions to the nearest post office. I see a young woman, maybe 22, sitting at a back booth cruising the Internet. So I ask: "Excuse me. Can you tell me where the post office is?"

She looks up from her computer and grins. "Don't trust my directions," she says. "I just got lost out by Boar's Tusk. For 12 hours!"

We saw Boar's Tusk on our little adventure. It's like Devil's Tower, only a bit smaller. Rumor has it you can find  diamonds  there. And that's what interested Britta (she tells me her name). She's a rock hound. And went 12 miles out from busy I-80 into the "wilds" of Wyoming's high desert to hunt for diamonds. And  got stuck in the sand.

For 12 hours.

No one drove past her. There's no cell service. She told no one where she was headed. Her gas tank was full. But it did her no good stuck in the sand.  She had a bottle of water.  And prayer. "I kept praying that God would tell my husband where I was. I kept repeating Boar's Tusk, Boar's Tusk, over and over." That sustained her for 12 hours, when a Search-and-Rescue team appeared.

It was her husband, she said,  who called the police and suggested she'd gone to Boar's Tusk. He'd heard God's voice, but called it a hunch. And it paid off.

So she's safe now, sipping soda at McDonalds, checking out sites to dig for her treasures.

And next time, she says, she'll heed those safety warnings and leave a note behind. Take more water and some food.  And perhaps, she winked, we should, too.


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