Wyoming Spring Creek: Trip Around the State

Ten days ago, my classmates and I began our trip around Wyoming to broaden our new knowledge about the geography and ecology of the West. We watched sunrises, camped in the badlands, visited incredible geographical formations, and swam in the Tetons. Although we all found it exhausting, every day was incredibly fulfilling and edifying.

The 5th day of our trip (July 27th) was a free day. We had just camped in the badlands and arrived at the K-Z Guest Ranch, a family owned ranch in the Shoshone National Forest, the evening before. Breakfast was scheduled for 8:30 AM the next day (a late morning!), so I had a slow start to my day by eating a delicious homemade breakfast and then reading in my cabin. A couple hours later, I rode a horse! I had never gone horseback riding ever before, and I can say that it was completely worth what I paid for it. The horse that I rode was named Kun, short for Hakuna Matata, and the views of the forest and mountains were jaw dropping.

Horseback riding!

Following lunch, our entire group headed to a swimming hole to cool off. The water had come from glacial melt, so it was incredibly cold, and my friend and I decided to see who could stay in the longest. It had taken so much grit to submerge myself, so I was determined to win. We made friendly conversation for 20 minutes or so, and there was still no end in sight. People were cheering for me. Others were cheering for her. Unfortunately, Mandi, one of the professors and chaperones of the trip, told us it was time to leave, so the competition had to end. Although I did get out first, I did win the listening-to-Mandi competition, which is a lot cooler than staying in the water longer.

After drying off, we drove to Cooke City, which has been affected by the recent flooding in Yellowstone National Park. It lies right outside the Northeast entrance, which had to be closed, so lodges and stores are significantly emptier than they had been years before. I was looking for a treat and learned that the general store was unable to get their ice cream deliveries was sent to the gas station, where the attendant drives to a town a couple hours away to get the ice cream himself. I also bought huckleberry caramels for myself and postcards for friends and family, and hopefully my support made a difference to the small town.

Next, we returned to K-Z and I spent some more time alone kayaking on their lake. I kept my eyes out for a beaver, which the owners had complained about, but I wasn’t able to find it before the dinner bell rang. I ate another incredible homemade meal, and then the professors gathered us in the dining house to discuss paleoclimatology and an article about the effects of climate change in national parks. Many of the patterns paleontologists have studied, such as legumes dominating landscapes during global warming and mass extinctions of deep-sea organisms, which can be used to compare how the environment changes or predict how the environment will change as temperatures rise today.

I spent the rest of the day talking to my classmates, and then went to bed. The free day much needed and full of new experiences and camaraderie. I went to bed so much more refreshed than the morning of, and I would absolutely return to the K-Z in a heartbeat.

Views of the ranch <3

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