Saturday, August 2, 2014

July Camping: Green River Lakes {a personal history}

I know you know we have a history with this place, Green River Lakes, Wyoming.  We were married there.  You knew that.  But also, we met there; in the Upper Green.  Fourteen years ago my man lived in a 1950's airstream trailer nicknamed "The Silver Bullet."  It was employee housing, parked on the Green.  He was a fisheries biologist.  I was a wilderness ranger.  It was a hot, dry summer and the west was on fire.  We fought forest fires together and as they say, the rest is history.
But there are so many more fingers to this story, all cradled in the palm of the Upper Green River.  Before I had even met my future husband, I was partnered with his brother's new bride to patrol the backcountry of Green River Lakes.  We hauled a pulaski and cross-cut saw on our ten-day packs, cut huge logs out of the trail and didn't see another soul for days.  We were wet, tired and driven.  By the end, my cheap government-issued jeans were held together with duct tape.
And then, a year or so later, my man and I found ourselves working together on the Green.  We were snowmobile patrol rangers.  We spent an entire winter in this drainage communicating largely by hand signals.  I have a pair of earrings made from the ivories we pulled off a wolf-killed elk that winter.  Off-duty, we lived together in a tiny attic apartment in a tiny town.  We married the following summer.
But even before that--long, long, long before that--my step-dad's parents owned a small cabin on the Green, just before you get to the Forest Service boundary.  They had sold it long ago, but my step-dad (a born and raised Wyomingite) always wanted to come back.  So when I was just a kid he traded a sculpture (he was an artist) and a little cash for some land about an hour away from that cabin on the Green.  Slowly, he scraped together a cabin of his own.  And slowly, he made it bigger.  He spent his teacher's summers at that cabin.  Off and on, one or another of his kids would live there and work or ski or marry and move on.  I moved there after graduating from college.  I stayed in that rustic, remote cabin for three years, until I met my future husband.  So I suppose you could say that if a long ago couple from Cheyenne, Wyoming had never owned a little Cabin on the Green, my husband and I would never have met.  Such is the fate of the world.  Such is the binding ties of a place.      

::  ::  ::

We hadn't been back since I was pregnant with Hazel.  My mom and her dog came for a July visit, and so we went camping.  We stayed in the campground, paddled our canoe across the lake, hiked and fished and paddled back.  We roasted corn over the fire and my mom made "hobo packs" (veggies and meat in tinfoil and cooked in the fire)--something she'd remembered eating over campfires long ago.  We found out mosquitoes love Hazel and she reacts strongly to them.  We had three days, two nights.  On our way home, we stopped at another, smaller lake along the Green River.  Paddled more, fished more.  

I am no poet, but I'd started a quick just-before-my-head-hits-the-pillow list of our camp experiences one night in the tent, and it turned into a silly, rhyming poem, which I'll share with you:

::  ::  ::                          

Sunscreen sticky,
sandy toes
Dirt-crusted sweat,
Paddling and
wooden oars
Blistered palms,
campfire s'mores
Quiet lake
smooth and still
Waterfalls roar
on a hill
Smokey fire,
burning eyes
Mosquitoes bring
a small demise
Fishing a high,
unspooled stream
My mother sits
in a dream
Restful (more sunscreen!)
Peaceful (more bug-spray!)
Wakeful (Hazel has to pee!)
These lakes.
This stream.
Life's dream.
::  ::  ::
By the way, a few days after we returned home, I found out Wyoming's Governor is currently taking public comment for two proposed dams on the Upper Green River.  I understand that water is precious, but damming this wild river, in this wild place, is abhorrent.  Click here to send a quick comment (takes 60 seconds).  Comments close Monday August 4th.  Pass it on.    

::  ::  ::  
And a few more outtakes for the hell of it.  Mentally, put this to the tune of "Let it Go," which is pretty much what Juniper and Hazel were singing (yelling?) every single time they stomped and splashed and tumbled along the lakeshore.  I love their go-juice.  Their "This is the Best Day EVER!" vibe.  It's contagious.  
^I also love Hazel's broken-arm toddler run.^  
^Grandma running!^
I know, we need a dog...  
Let it go.  


  1. Gorgeous photos. I have never been and it makes me want to go.

  2. ahh such loveliness as always x


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