Crowheart Butte in Wyoming by Janice and Nolan Braud
First off, if you enjoy hearing local stories about the places you drive through or visit on road trips and adventures and enjoy learning about geology, whether you’re a geologist by trade or someone who always found it interesting, then I would highly recommend buying the Roadside Geology Books! They make them for every state. Great to read from on long road trips. I’ve even had someone in another car reading it into a walkie talkie for others in the caravan to listen to as the landscape passes through the car windows. I thought I would share one of stories that really stuck with me.
This is one story of Crowheart Butte just east of Dubois, Wyoming. As you drive past the butte and see it off in the distance you can look around the wide vast plain and image the elk and bison that once made these prime hunting grounds for the Native Americans.
“”Crowheart Butte, the isolated butte north of the highway, is composed of claystone and sandstone of the Eocene Wind River formation. Behind its name is a colorful story. In 1866, Indian tribes in the area fought a battle to establish supremacy over hunting grounds in the basin. Chief Washakie led the Shoshone and Bannock tribes against the Crow Indians, led by Chief Big Robber. In an effort to save lives, Chief Washakie suggested that he and Chief Big Robber fight alone at the top of this butte — the winner would eat the other’s heart! Washakie won and the butte was named “Crow Heart.” In his old age, Washakie was asked if he actually ate Big Robber’s heart; he replied “youth does foolish things.”
From ‘Roadside Geology of Wyoming’ by David Lageson and Darwin Spearing
When you realize that stories like these are not made up for a good Western movie but instead actually happened, it puts a new perspective on the land. White men were not the first people to come here. Native Americans had been fighting wars over this beautiful territory long before we even discovered the continent and have seen great leaders like Cheif Washakie. I have heard many slightly different versions of the story, although the one above is my favorite. The sign on the side of the road tells another story:
Crowheart Butte in Wyoming by Janice and Nolan Braud
Next time you are driving or exploring and staring off into the country side, imagine all the other eyes that have looked at that same scene you are seeing now and all the stories a place has to tell.
As I’m in the last stages of writing my masters thesis on two years of work on the geology and chemistry of the Thermopolis hot springs in central Wyoming, I decided to re-visit some of my field work photos. Sitting here typing in front of the computer made me forget that I am actually studying a very beautiful and unique area and should be thankful to be able to say that this is the ‘lab’ in which I collect my samples Oh yeah, and if sampling went well enough, I would get to fish the Big Horn River while the experiment finished. Not too shabby!
“Wind Blown Ice on Alpine Trees, Snowy Range Mountains, Wyoming”
This is what a forest looks like at 11,000 feet in June on the Medicine Bow Peak Trail on the way to the peak of the Snowy Range Mountains in Wyoming. The wind is always whipping down the slopes from the west and causes these (what I call) ‘ice bullets’ in one direction. Its amazing that these hardy trees survive this battering every winter (or should I say spring).
After a morning of fishing around Brooks Lake in Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming, a summer afternoon storm started to roll in. Right on cue when you are in the mountains this time of year. I took this image right before it thundered and hailed for a bit while I comforted my cowering dog in the car until the thunder stopped.
I’ve been drawn toward black and white images more than I have been in past, which may have something to do with my changing mood as I am writing the first drafts of my masters thesis. I enjoy how they seem to be based more on how you want to express the feeling and mood of the scene or emphasize form and patterns more instead letting the color form the patterns. Nature doesn’t need color to still be beautiful.
“Elk grazing under a stormy sunset, Yellowstone National”
I think I’ll end the night with this photo. After a long day of doing field research in Yellowstone National Park, I was driving back to camp around the northern entrance of the park, took a second to look out my window and immediately found a place to quick pull slightly off the road, snap this photo out my window, and keep driving.
It really was this colorful and magical! Even though the moment was brief, I’ll never forget that view at the end of a long day.
The Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight. Make sure to take some time and be patient and you might see some meteors or fireballs despite the full moon. Look to the upper left of Orion to find the Gemini constellation. You can even get the app MeteorCounter and collect some data for NASA!
I took this one just outside of the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming on a warm summers night. Wyoming never fails to give you a sense of vastness with each sunset. What this picture doesnât show is the wicked winds that ripped and tore through our camp that evening!
This is an image from about a year ago that I took in August while in Grand Teton National Park. Taking photographs of the Cathedral Group of peaks (Teewinot, Grand, and Mount Owen) never gets old. This particular image has the Grand to the left, its highest peak with clouds clinging to it, and Mount Owen in the center.