Put a Pin in it!

Luxe Beat Magazine - - News -

My goal was not to fall in -es­pe­cially so close to the dock where a group of cu­ri­ous on­look­ers at­ten­tively watched my stand-up pad­dle-board­ing at­tempts on the lake at Red Canyon Lodge. It was a make-or-break mo­ment as I rose up from my knees, first to an awk­ward squat­ting po­si­tion and then slowly to full ex­ten­sion. I was shak­ing as I stood on the board, legs quiv­er­ing like jelly and hands clenched in white knuckle fash­ion around the pad­dle. Then I be­gan to move, try­ing to re­mem­ber to re­tain a slight bend in my knees, to keep eyes fo­cused ahead and al­ter­nate pad­dle strokes from side to side. It was slow go­ing ini­tially, as I didn’t trust my bal­ance nor the board’s sta­bil­ity, and I felt like a frozen statue. But grad­u­ally I started to loosen up as I gained con­fi­dence in my skills. Though I never quite reached that Zen mo­ment of be­com­ing one with my pad­dle, I did, how­ever, feel proud of my ac­com­plish­ments and ex­cited to learn a fun, new sport.

Stand-up pad­dle­board­ing is just one of dozens of ac­tiv­i­ties vis­i­tors can ex­pe­ri­ence while ex­plor­ing Sweet­wa­ter County, Wy­oming. To many, this area is rel­a­tively un­known in com­par­i­son to the state’s more pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions of Yel­low­stone and the Te­tons. What peo­ple don’t re­al­ize, how­ever, is that this hid­den gem is an all-ages adventure play­ground, ripe for dis­cov­ery. Lo­cated in the south­west­ern cor­ner of Wy­oming, Sweet­wa­ter County is ideally sit­u­ated for those head­ing to the famed na­tional parks. It makes a per­fect stopover, but once you re­al­ize

that care to make them­selves vis­i­ble. Mean­while, No­bles will re­gale you with in­ter­est­ing facts and a col­lec­tion of col­or­ful tales. Never one to shy away from a con­tro­ver­sial sub­ject, he will also in­ject his per­sonal and pas­sion­ate opin­ions about the pol­i­tics of the wild horse man­age­ment sit­u­a­tion and var­i­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

When the horses are spot­ted, there’s pal­pa­ble ex­cite­ment from the group. No­bles tells us that the herd is a mix of dif­fer­ent breeds, from thor­ough­breds and quar­ter horses to Mor­gans and Curly horses. We keep our dis­tance, not want­ing to spook them, as we take am­ple op­por­tu­nity of this marvelous Ko­dak mo­ment.

Later, we spy a pair of old bach­e­lor stal­lions mak­ing their way down to a wa­ter­ing hole. And then there’s an­other group on a nearby hill­side, which No­bles ex­plains is ac­tu­ally com­prised of sev­eral small clus­ters, each con­sist­ing of a stal­lion and his mares. To­wards the lat­ter part of our ex­cur­sion, we come across a group­ing ad­ja­cent to the road. A few of the horses sur­round a small colt that is ly­ing on the ground, pro­tect­ing her as ele­phants do with their young. They part and move on to graze, and we get a full look at the lit­tle one be­fore it rises in un­gainly fash­ion and scam­pers off to join the oth­ers.

At Killpecker Sand Dunes, we mar­vel at one of na­ture’s largest sand boxes. Cre­ated via a com­bi­na­tion of vol­canic ac­tion and sub­se­quent wind ero­sion, the dunes can reach heights of over 100 feet and run for over 100 miles from west to east. They are trav­el­ing sand dunes, con­stantly on the move, which gives the veg­e­ta­tion in this en­vi­ron­ment a real chal­lenge. For re­cre­ation-seek­ers, the dunes pro­vide a soft ter­rain suit­able for a myr­iad of ac­tiv­i­ties such as hik­ing, sand surf­ing or an un­for­get­table match of beach volleyball. If you’re lucky, you might spot the herd of rare desert elk that roams across this unique land­scape.

No­bles also in­cludes a stop at the White Moun­tain Pet­ro­glyphs dur­ing our day­long tour. It’s an op­por­tu­nity to see an­cient art­work carved by the an­ces­tors of present Plains and Great Basin Na­tive Amer­i­cans. The pet­ro­glyphs, of which there are hun­dreds, in­clude draw­ings of elk, buf­falo, horses, teepees and hu­man fig­ures. Many date to early times, about 200 years ago; oth­ers ap­pear to be older and are es­ti­mated to be as much as 1,000 years old. No­bles shows us a par­tic­u­lar sec­tion of the rock with marks that ap­pear to be hand holds. He notes a pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion for these in­den­ta­tions, telling us that Na­tive Amer­i­can women might have cre­ated them dur­ing the child­birth process.

An­other ma­jor high­light of Sweet­wa­ter County is Flam­ing Gorge. To get there, take the Flam­ing Gorge Scenic By­way, one of the most scenic routes in the coun­try. The drive tra­verses a wide va­ri­ety of dra­matic land­scapes from the high desert plains to the up­per el­e­va­tions of the Uinta Moun­tains. It en­cir­cles the 91-mile-long Lake

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