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Cliff Blake's frontier experience.

I have spent many mornings high atop the mountains of Wyoming's BridgerTeton National Forest along the Continental Divide. At daybreak, I have stood in awe watching the sun come up over the horizon--lighting up the world and welcoming the day. Mornings in the wilderness are always beautiful.

Deep within the Bridger wilderness, there are about 500 miles of hiking trails for those who want to backpack on foot or go on horseback into some of America's most spectacular mountain settings. More than 1,300 lakes stand out as sparkling jewels within the alpine landscape. I have seen most of them, but I do have my favorites.

There are two emerald lakes, the Green River lakes, that lie at the northernmost entry point to the Bridger wild lands. Behind them you can't miss Squaretop Mountain, rising nearly 12,000 feet high, reaching up to the sky to form an unforgettable majestic profile.

Life's different

in the backcountry

Early one morning, while camping in the wilderness, I woke up to the jingle of the bells around our horses' necks. Suddenly, I realized the sound of the bells was fading into the distance. That meant only one thing--our horses were leaving camp and heading back home to Willow Creek Guard Station. They were either in search of more food or looking to get out of a day's work.

Without a moment's hesitation, I jumped out of my sleeping bag, dashed out of the tent in my shorts, threw on my cowboy hat, pulled on my boots and tore off down the hillside.

You see, if the horses don't get enough feed at night, they head out just before dawn. I had to get them back to our campsite, or we'd be stranded. Thirty miles on foot was not part of our schedule for the week. You can't exactly help visitors, maintain trails and campsites, or patrol for fires, if your horses have escaped.

I ran through the woods, jumped over logs and raced through the underbrush. There was a chance I could catch them, since I knew we had hobbled them at night wit a leather strap around their front feet. This slows them down in case they try to run away.

After about 20 minutes, I caught the bell mare -- the leader of the pack. When I stopped her and her entourage, she gave me that knowing look. Flaring her nostrils, she snorted; she knew her plan to escape had come to an end. Horses have personalities, you know.

The guys back at the camp had a good laugh when I returned. I looked pretty bedraggled. We gave the horses some oats, saddled them up, packed, and two hours later we were out on the trail.

Learn how to

take care of the Earth

When traveling in designated wilderness, you may be 30 miles or more into the backcountry without any means of communication. Forest rangers are there to inform you about ways to make your trip safer and more enjoyable. We give advice on many things, such as how to store food so the bears won't be attracted to your campsite. We give you ideas on how to care for the land so you'll leave no trace of you visit. And in a friendly way, we explain how people can help protect our precious heritage -- the wilderness.

At night, when I'm in the back-country, I often look up and say to myself, "That's my church out there." In these moments, under the clear, ink-black sky, we have a chance to think about the beauty we have in this world and what we can do to preserve it for our children.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special Advertising Section; My Favorite Place
Author:Blake, Cliff
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Previous Article:Olivia Newton-John's trip to Alaska.
Next Article:Louis Gossett, Jr.'s tales of nature.

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