I’m sitting on top of a small ridge overlooking a drainage into the Laramie Valley. In front of me stretches the expanse of the valley, broken only by a line of windmills and the Medicine Bow Range to the East. They appear to be close, but distance here is deceptive; it would take two days to walk to the foothills. Medicine Bow Peak’s snowy ridges are just barely visible. A little to the right lies the town of Rock River, noticeable only by its small buildings and the trees that grow along Rock Creek. A herd of cows below looks like little black dots spread across the valley.
The landscape looks bleak, but it is rich with hardy organisms adapted for survival in this near-desert environment. I’m sitting among small clusters of grasses, sedges, dwarf sagebrush, and wildflowers; below me, Wyoming big sagebrush and greasewood cover the valley while rabbitbrush fills in the wetter drainages. Prairie dogs and birds call from all around me, and a gentle breeze ruffles the tops of the needle-and-thread grass. Only a few clouds dot the wide-open sky, but some stretches of cirrus spell bad weather ahead. Fronts here pass quickly with ferocious winds, sometimes accompanied by thunder and a spit of rain. For now, though, the sun is shining on a beautiful morning in the Laramie Valley.