I love looking at these petroglyphs. Thousands of years old, open for interpretation, their location on a remote vertical outcropping in the middle of central Wyoming is as mysterious as their content. A helpful descriptive brochure points out some possible interpretations of what the pecked-in-stone drawings; warriors, spirit animals, and several other well-supported possibilities. Could be, but what if?
The figures at Legend Rock are thought to be 10,000 years old. Of course, debates about WHO is responsible and WHAT the images actually represent are ongoing. I like to imagine the group above left, and maybe all the other bizarre anthropomorpic figures are some young person’s attempts to create an artistic legacy. Some of the images may have been here for as long as 10,000 years; archaeologists theorize the red sandstone cliffs attracted the artistic imaginations of many individuals from many prehistoric tribes. That means any single glyph may have taken several years to complete, or that more than one person may have added to one or more carving, like some kind of ancient “Exquisite Corpse” exercise.
Two miles northeast of Yellowstone lake, away from tour buses, commerce, and strife, is a vast open meadow, interrupted by mounds, cut and carved by meandering streams. Pale grasses wave in the breeze, and the sun and sky are forever. I’m prone in the tall Buffalograss and sedge, pale yellow for fall, crunching an excellent apple. After spotting solitary bison ringing the buttes and valleys around me, I noticed a lone wolf scampering in a wide arc about a quarter mile away, the black tail easy to spot in the immense, pale, and lovely grasses covering the valley . Though the black wolf occasionally passes the odd bison laying in the grass, they ignore each other. The wolf travels quickly, stops frequently, and, like me, seems to have no other purpose than to be in the certain serenity of the Pelican Valley. All around the valley, elk bugles echo, warnings or calls to battle. Loud and close, eerie howls from packs of wolves arise, punctuated by barks, responses from unknown rivals far away, and the eye is drawn to the tree-lined edge of this massive haven. Distant black predators are spotted – two, then ten, moving along the edge of the forest. Distant, yet closer than I have ever experienced. Call and return, motion and stillness, prey and predator, sun and grass. That’s my perfect Yellowstone day.
So, Thermopolis, Wyoming. An extremely beautiful, geologically diverse setting for this small settlement along the banks of the Big Horn river. It’s hard to tell what people here do for a living. A very big, new high school hosts a late September Saturday JV football game between the Bobcats and a regional rival. Varsity games are on Friday nights; the ‘Cats were on the road this week, and reportedly defeated the Burns Broncs 20 – 16. Today, Saturday, downtown Thermo’ is closed off for a farmer’s market. Step right up for sample shots of Wyoming Whiskey to wash down your fresh-picked, homegrown tomatos and other “small-batch” veggies.
These carved wooden bears are attached to balcony railings, staircases, and along the fence of the motel. Should we watch for REAL bears around town?
Went back this evening to try and capture some photos of the wily bison, but they were nowhere to be found. Their pasture is a huge area east of Thermo’. We’ll try again tomorrow.
I’m glad we walked around today instead of piling into the car for a quick, uneventful tour of the area around Hot Springs State Park. The terrain is sagebrush, dry grass, small rocks, and dirt so dry dust cannot be raised by kicking it.
This is a good view of the buildup of minerals and formations resulting from the hot springs. A man we met while walking along a boardwalk along the top of these formations lamented they were no longer as beautiful as when he had seen them before. He told us the water used to bubble and steam, and that the rock formations were formerly much more colorful. Early photos of the area, some from the 19th-century, confirmed that previous tourists may have had more spectacular views.