I am currently sitting on a ridge overlooking one of the many valleys of the Spring Creek Preserve in Wyoming. I can see the camp where we spent the night sleeping out in tents from my perch. The land rolls out before me for miles. I can see the mountains in the distance, rising up from the horizon in speckled shades of blue and green. The highest peak I can see is topped with snow still. The morning sun casts strange shadows over the mountains and prairie as clouds flit across the blue sky above me. The morning air is still cool, not yet heated by the sun which will no doubt send heat waves across the plains later today. There is only a light breeze so far this morning, a stark contrast from my first visit to the prairie when the wind was blowing fiercely across the rolling hills. Below the looming mountains, a windmill field glints in the sun, unmoving for the first time since I’ve seen them. The roll of the landscape makes it difficult to determine distance here. You can see for miles but the confusing mix of foreground and background make it nearly impossible to determine exactly how far away something is. In the valley below me, I can see the winding creek beds, dry from the lack of rain the valley experiences in July. The occasional storms that do roll through aren’t enough to make the streams flow again. The creek beds do bring a pop of green to the otherwise dusty paleness of the rest of the landscape which I appreciate. I’m not used to the lack of green and it makes me ache for the forests of Pennsylvania. Being here is like being on a different planet. The beauty of the prairie is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
I can hear the prairie dogs chattering in the valley below me. Their small heads pop out of the many dens that are scattered around. Morning birds can also be heard as they sing their songs and hunt for insects in the tall grasses that make up the bulk of the plant life here. Despite the relative harshness of the environment surrounding me, I take inspiration from the stubborn, hardy plants that grow through the cracked, rocky floor of the hills. Everything here has learned to adapt and survive. Above me the sky is brilliantly blue, and the occasional roar of an airplane serves to remind me that I am not truly isolated from civilization despite what the rolling fields of Wyoming would have me believe. The peace of space and distance is constantly interrupted by small gnats, mosquitos, and other insects that buzz in my ears, landing in my hair, and crawling up my pant legs. The breeze keeps them at bay most of the time though, so I don’t mind the occasional intruder. Beneath me, rocks of every shape, size, color, and age sit interrupted occasionally by the grasses and forbs of the prairie. As I sit here and write, the breeze has picked up. I have never smelled air so fresh. You’d never guess it holds less oxygen than PA air, but the longer I stay here, the less I notice. I can see cows in the distance, an echo of bison herds of the past. This whole valley is an echo of the past. Everything I see tells me something about how this place looked through time, and I must admit I have enjoyed learning about the history of this new environment. I look forward to learning as much as I can while I’m here.
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Love your description of the area. It’s such a contrast to the rolling green hills of PA. Enjoy your time and learn as much as you can. There is beauty all around us–you are blessed to have this experience. ❤you .