While on the main road heading south we managed to miss the turnoff that our little WY auto guide book mentions. So, back north we went. I was not going to give it up!
Found the turn, and began our journey down a long winding dirt road out in the middle of nowhere.....We began seeing trails off to the west. Honesty, it was hard to tell if these were wagon trails, 4 wheel drive or ATV trails. We were following the directions in our little guidebook, or so we thought. Finally we said, well, this *must* be it! So, we veered off the dirt road and out onto tracks that ran and kept running through open fields of sage brush and other vegetation. Bumpity bump we kept going and going thinking we were on the real trail. The RV was left at the campsite BTW, otherwise there’s no way in heck we could have even taken that dirt road leading us to the trail. After several miles of this, we realized the tracks kind of ended. Hummmmmm, don’t think the Oregon Trail just ended right there.......
Rereading the book, I realized we should have been seeing trail markers along the way....like this one -
....we had seen none.
So, S managed to get the truck turned around and back we went. As we were heading back to the 'road', we noticed another set of tracks that headed south and up a very very steep hill....well, maybe *that* was it! Hesitant, we began the climb. Thank goodness for 4 wheel drive!! Once we made it up, we realized, of course, that that wasn’t it either. So, down we had to go since there was no other way out.....
OK, back on the ‘main’ dirt road now, we started back to where we came from originally, thinking we must have missed it somewhere along the way. Sure enough, we spotted “The” trail, this time to our left, and realized how easy it was to miss approaching from the other direction.
Finally! We were on THE Oregon Trail!!!! (At this point on the map it’s also the Mormon Trail, The California Trail and the Pony Express Trail). We were ALL pretty excited at this point! We hopped out, touched it, played with the sandy gravel, snapped pictures and pretended we were pioneers walking the whole way (which they did!).
This is THE trail people!
Hopping back into the car, we continued heading west, ON the Oregon Trail. Yes, you can drive on it here for about 5 or 6 miles.
The even cooler thing is further down the road you can spot original wagon tracks, or ruts, that you’re not allowed to drive on, so they haven’t been modified by modern traffic. You can also spot swales, and in fact, at one point if you look north to south you realize you’re standing IN one big swale! The wagon trains didn’t, as we learned at Fort Bridger, travel single file. They spread out to give each other room and avoid the dust those in front of them kicked up. Thanks to that little fact, there are actually trails left and right of the ‘main’ one down the middle. We had a blast running around exploring these and, once again, imagining ourselves as pioneers. We gave each other pioneer names and everything! We also discussed how difficult life was on the trail and how many people had to dump out their belongings as they went along.
And speaking of loosing things on the trail, as we’re bumping down the ‘road’ Liran pulled out his (very loose) tooth! It was quite momentous given where we were!
On a more serious note, a conversation was later had about how lucky he was that that was all he lost, as many not only lost their belongings but also their lives.
Despite being long and tiring, the day was a huge success! On the other hand, dinner, if you can call it that, was not. As we were not expecting to be gone so late we did not pack a meal. The only ‘restaurant’ on the way back was an ice cream shop that also had other snack items for sale. It was an unfortunate end to a tremendous day, but unless we wanted to wait an hour before eating, and it was 8PM already, we didn’t have much choice.....and we succumbed.
The kids didn’t mind BTW...... :-)