(Ron Writing) We awoke this morning to a beautiful day but there is still a lot of smoke in the sky from several wildfires burning out of control in Wyoming and Colorado. When I went outside for a little walk this morning I noticed that there was a faint tracks of a trail that ran right through the spot where we were parked and continued both east and west as far as I could see. It dawned on me that we spent the night right on the old wagon and Pony
Express trails! Several trails that start in various places in the Midwest converge in Nebraska and run parallel through much of Nebraska and Wyoming. All these trails head for “South Pass” where they crossed the Continental
Divide (7,550) just as we did on WY-28 this morning. Just a couple miles from where we parked for the night, these trails diverge again to California, Utah, and Oregon – this spot is called the “Parting of the Ways”. The ruts of these trails are still clearly visible in many places.
We continued east on WY-28 to US-287 where we took a short 8-mile drive north to purchase gas in Lander, WY. That was out of our way but the gas stations are few and far between in this part of Wyoming and this looked like our best option. From Lander we back-tracked southeast on US-287 to Muddy Gap. This is a very scenic drive with colorful canyons and views that often extend for perhaps 100 miles or more. Those views were obscured in some places with smoke depending on the direction and the time.
At Muddy Gap we turned northeast on WY-220, which is another very scenic route. All three of these routes follow the wagon trails very closely and there are many exhibits along the way about the history of the trails and extreme hardships often endured by those early pioneers. Just a few miles northeast of Muddy Gap we stopped at Martin’s Cove and Devil’s Gate BLM area. This site is important to members of the Mormon faith since it was here that one of the several groups of handcart immigrants met a terrible fate. The Mormons have a very nice visitor center there which tells the story of the area, the trails and some of the immigrants. There were about 5 bus loads of Mormons dressed in period clothing participating in short treks along the Mormon Trail pulling handcarts or walking.
We took US287 to Casper, WY where we refueled our almost empty tank. Gas at Sam’s Club there was $3.289 – the lowest price we’ve paid in a long time. From Casper we took I-25 east to Orin, WY where we turned onto east US-18. At Lusk, WY we turned north on US-85. A few miles north of Lusk we spotted a nice parking turnout along the highway were we are parked for the night.
It was warm today but not uncomfortably hot. It was also very windy all day but thankfully it was again a tail wind, which makes driving easier and sure improves the fuel mileage.