Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Our Hike To Independence Rock

Joe and I went on a hike to Independence Rock with a group from Casper. This was sponsored by the National Historic Trails Center. We all drove out in our own vehicles and met together before ascending the "rock". It's about an hour from our house and takes the same route as when we go to visit with the kids.

This is one of the most noted landmarks along the emigrant trails. Popular legend says that the pioneers needed to reach this point by July 4, thereby giving it its name. But emigrants arrived at this site throughout the traveling season. Its name actually comes from a party of fur trappers who camped here on July 4, 1824. The large granite outcropping is 1,900 feet long and 700 feet wide and rises 128 feet. J. Goldsborough Bruff said it looked "like a huge whale" from a distance. The site was a popular camping site. (And no, I didn't take this picture of Independence Rock).

While encamped here, many many pioneers inscribed their names on the sturdy granite. As early as 1842, fur trapper Rufus B. Sage noted that "the surface is covered with names of travelers, traders, trappers, and emigrants, engraved upon it in almost ever practicable part, for the distance of many feet above its base…"* The Jesuit missionary, Pierre Jean De Smet, is credited with giving it the name "Great Register of the Desert."

This was our BLM (Bureau of Land Management) guide, Jason, giving us some of the history about the dedication of Independence Rock as a historical landmark before we made our hike to the Rock.

Joe and I stop at this rest area where I.R. is located every time we go to visit the kids - coming and going. But, we'd never done the "touristy" thing of checking it out until now.

Sign telling about I.R. The missing pieces of paint on the sign are caused by blowing snow which scrapes off the paint.

Here we are hiking out to I.R. That's Joe in the pink tee shirt.

This is one of the many markers that denote this section of the California-Oregon-Mormon trial and we were able to very clearly see wagon tracks.

These are various plaques placed on the rock during the dedication of I.R. as a historical site.

This is one of the many views showing how vast and empty the area is around I.R.

I've begun my climb up the "rock" and left Joe behind.

Up higher and Joe is the little dot in the middle of the picture.

Wow! What a view!

That's the rest area below us.

And even higher up. I can't even see my car anymore.

Names were placed on the rock through engraving or by painting them with wagon grease, tar or a combination of buffalo grease and glue. Over time, many of these name have flaked off or been obscured by lichens. Despite this, thousands of names remain and are a source of delight to those who climb the rock, including myself. It is absolutely fascinating to see the names of pioneers and trappers etched in the stone after all these years.

There were even pools of water on top of I.R. from recent rains.

Ta da! I made it to the top. But then there was the getting down part.

While we were all on the top, we gathered together while Jason read us some excepts from diaries and journals from people who had written their names on the rock.

This view is looking toward Devil's Gate and Martin's Cove where the Martin Handcart company had many members die during a blizzard.

While Jason was reading the diary/journal entries, I looked over and spied this young woman in period clothing. She and several other young men and young women were from Canada and were on a youth conference trip with the Church.

Even young pioneer women get hot on a very warm July day.

Yes, I made it down in one piece with no broken bones or boo-boos. But, I did hurt extremely bad in my thighs the next day.

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