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Road Trip Wyoming: Dubois…of Petroglyphs & Togwotee Pass

With names like Wind River Gear, Stewarts Trap Line Gallery, Tukadeka Traders, and Whiskey Mountain Tackle you get the idea quickly Dubois is all about the outdoors with its own brand of rough and a unique version of western.

Despite the French ending (bois) and the fact other Wyoming names are pronounced with the French pronunciation, you would be wrong to assume that Dubois is “Do-bwa.”  It’s “Do-boys”. Once you get that name down, next is Togwotee Pass, the 9,658 feet high mountain pass North of Dubois in the Absarokas. It’s “Toe-go-tee” – say it fast and run it together.

So what do you do in Dubois, Wyoming other than stand around with your mouth agape rotating in a 360 to take in the red and gray sand castle mesas, the lack of national chains and the Jackalope big enough to attempt an 8 second ride on? (has a saddle just in case you’re inclined).

Dubois Jackalope Advertisement

Dubois Jackalope Advertisement

First, you eat. The Cowboy Cafe‘s breakfast will take you way past lunch. But if you need a refuel or dessert (doesn’t everybody want dessert after breakfast, or is it just me?), head to the Dubois Drug Store & Soda Fountain for a huckleberry shake or one of their home baked yummies.

Then you hike, fish, and explore.

  • The Dubois Museum presents stories of the area from the celebrated tie-hack, to the ranchers, outlaws and Native Americans who converged here. A tie-hack was a logger (most of Scandinavian descent) who hacked or shaped the logs into railroad ties.
  • Togwotee Trail. It’s not really a “trail.” It’s an overview of the neighboring landscape and features. If you want to do some planning ahead of time, check out a virtual tour: here.
Dubois, Wyoming

Despite the fact I was just in Dubois mid-September, I didn't get a great pic. I knew I had this one somewhere. It's film. Darn good thing Photoshop hasn't done away with its Dust & Scratches filter. And don't hold my feet to the fire regarding exactly where around Dubois this was taken. Somewhere in the vicinity will have to be good enough this time. Sometimes, good enough, is enough. I love that saying.

  • The Badlands Interpretive Trail.  The colorful badlands form a mesmerizing landscape to explore or just view from your car. A colloquial cowboy term for a land so rough it can’t be ridden through, badlands are formed by water carving its way through soft layers of clay, silt and sandstone. The trail offers three hiking tours ranging from a short stroll to a two-hour hike. It’s located 2 miles north of Dubois on the Horse Creek Road.
  • Find the Sheepeater Indians petroglyphs near Torrey Lake (south of town).  A gravel road takes off from Highway 287 just a few miles southeast of Dubois (Trail Lake Road/Forest Service Road 411) and winds
    Courtesy of Flickr member:

    Courtesy of Flickr member:Wyoming99!, Van Hayes

    through glacial moraines to several lake trailheads. You’re specifically looking for the Lake Louise trailhead. You can fish the lakes (with a Wyoming license – see Whiskey Mountain Tackle about one).

  • Check out the north end of the Wind River Valley by taking Horse Creek Road/Forest Service Road 285 (the turn-off is in town) to Double Cabin trailhead in the Shoshone National Forest. At the very least drive as long as you’ve got time.
  • If you can’t find part (or even one) of the largest Bighorn Sheep herd in North America, head to the Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center for the stuffed version.
  • Union Pass: A gravel road leads up the pass providing access to expansive meadows, spectacular views of the Teton, Wind River and Absaroka mountains, and the headwaters of three great North American rivers: the Colorado, the Mississippi, and the Columbia.  Directions: 10 miles northwest of Dubois on U.S. Highway 287. Turn at Union Pass Road.
  • If you’ve got half a day, take the 4.8 mile round-trip hike to Upper and Lower Jade Lakes. The Jade Lake’s trailhead is adjacent to Brooks Lake Campground. Just after coming off Togwotee Pass look for the Brooks Lake Recreation Area access road (quite a bit north of Dubois).

And about that Jackalope?  You can’t drive out of town without a stop at the Exxon station, some photos, and chocolate.

Dubois Jackalope

Seeing is Believing... I told you the first photo was just an advertisement. You didn't believe me?!

Dubois Chocolate

Wyoming Plates

There's aren't many states better suited for an all-American road trip, than Wyoming. Not much is traversed via interstate highway, so many of the towns are isolated and brandish scads of character.

Where is Dubois? It’s north and west of the center of the state. From Jackson (actually Moran Junction) take highway 26/287 East (you’ll see a sign). It’s about an hour drive.  From Lander, take 26/287 West. It’s about the same distance…’bout an hour down the road ya see?

From the Top

It might as well have been the moon.  Surreal to a degree that supports the possibility it didn’t happen at all, I’m suspended in a slow motion movie without sound. Maybe I dreamt it.  A thick haze has spread its blanket and laid full claim to my reality today, the first day home since August 28th (2009).

But it did happen. There are pictures and witnesses to collaborate the fact I summitted my first mountain. I look at the pictures, study them, feeling the somewhat detached wonder and elation for another’s achievement. A second glance to enjoy the enviable satisfaction on her face, and I realize, oddly, the face is mine.

Grand Teton

Grand Teton Summit, Grand Teton National Park

Of Multiple Sclerosis & Why I Did It

Reasons

I decided to climb a mountain because it’s been on my list of things to do for years. And I love crossing things off a list. I’ve been known to ADD things (already done) to a list, only so I could take the immense pleasure in crossing them off.  Something about making those strike-throughs is SO gratifying. I realize that’s wacked, and wackier still is publicly admitting such.

That doesn’t really answer why I did it, does it?  I did it, because I could.  Flippant.  Okay, here’s another try: I did it because I could and another in my life, a beloved other, can’t.  Truth.

My sister has Multiple Sclerosis.  Before the disease, SHE was the adventurous one. Climbing trees and riding a bike around cow paddies and over dirt roads like a mad woman, she was one fearless child.  She’s my inspiration in life. Her spirit and passion and resolve are lava-like – hot enough to have frightened the disease into not having stripped away all her physical capabilities.

The disease is afraid of her. That’s not to say it hasn’t won in some regards.  SHE can’t climb a mountain. SHE can’t hike into the backcountry. She can’t take an Animal Tracking course or ride a bike. Some days she can’t climb 2 stairs.  And some days, she struggles to get from her bedroom to the living room.

It seems only right that because I can and she cannot, I should.  So I do.  And she’s right beside me every grueling step of these hare-brained, a bit out there escapades I relish.  When I feel myself getting lazy and making excuses for not having done anything physically challenging in a while, I sense her kicking me in the pants. She’s my mental barometer against too many bon bons and a soft city life; against taking my health for granted.

My hope is that at the end, my physical exploits will have been enough for TWO healthy, adventurous explorers whose good health wasn’t squandered on cushy hotel rooms and pointless shopping trips.

I climbed a mountain because it is my job to make up for the strike-throughs in her life not made by her own hand. Damn them all.

Me & Lisa

Two Explorers

It’s Not About the Summit Anymore

Dreams, ya know? You remember those, right? Like cayenne pepper in the back of your throat, or a hangnail on a dry cuticle, they nag at you.

Given the proper combination of elements, dreams become spewing blow torches of fuel, of oxygen and fire. The flame is constant and hot, paralyzing even in the warmth of its seduction. They have the power to ruin lives. Or to make a life unforgettably and without measure, extraordinary.

Conditioning for the Grand Teton summit bid has continued in Jackson, Wyoming.  In the actual environment the climb will take place, my body aches from the intensity that cannot be duplicated in a gym. Here, I’m faced with the reality of what it is I’m attempting. Confronted daily with a view of Grand Teton standing at 13,770 feet, an iteration of the dream has taken place.

It’s not about the summit anymore. I WILL be disappointed should I not summit. Six months of my life have been dedicated to strict training and diet. Fear has been and continues to be battled. But I will stand at the base of the mountain knowing I pursued this dream with all my might.

The external/physical risks are great. But they’re minuscule, insignificant even, in light of the greatest potential trauma. Failure at the attempt, while painful and disappointing, would be nothing compared to the internal trauma of not having made the attempt at all. A dream without pursuit is a trauma that breeds regret.

Within days of the attempt, the bid for the summit has become a technicality.

Post Work-out

The Attempt

Don’t tell me you’re not capable of the same dedicated, passionate pursuit of your own dreams. You are.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — 1994 Inaugural Speech of Nelson Mandela

The Necklace

The necklace is of gold, like most dreams. Tiny and delicate and really no one ever notices it. Not even me. It’s become part of me, connected at its ends by a clasp that has never failed. The clasp must know should it come undone, I would follow.

The pendant falls at the concave curve that lies so neatly below the adam’s apple and in between the clavicle. For 7 years now it’s rested in that place made famous by The English Patient. Such a part of me it’s become, the significance of it faded into obscurity.

In spin class today splatters of sweat displaced by it were felt on the underside of my chin. For the first time, I became aware of it swinging, rhythmically striking that curve. Clarity struck me like the pain in my quads. This necklace hanging so perfectly and beautifully unintrusive at my suprasternal notch represents the current epicenter of my life. And I’d forgotten about it.

During six months that have revolved around long, sweaty workouts, recovery, showers, and trying to make it as a freelance writer, a dream has unfolded.

The necklace is a line engraving of Grand Teton.  It’s been given a nice scrub and polish since the revelation.

The Necklace

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The Grand Climb

 

Tammie DooleyAbout SRT... I’m a traveler, writer and photographer for whom the open road frequently summons. Adventurous solo road trips are a staple for me, and a curiosity. So I created this website to share them and inspire you to step out and give them a try. Welcome!

A soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone – Wolfgang Von Goethe

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