Featured writer: Kaitlyn Watts (aka Mountain Kait)
I first began exploring the state of Wyoming while assisting a geology grad student 8 years ago. It was my first summer in the West and I was still completing my undergraduate degree.
A journal entry from that time: I drove the 10 hours from Fort Collins to Cody. My joints were achy from sitting in the car as I dialed my Dad’s number and got out to stretch. He asked where I was and I looked around at the desolate landscape; a two lane interstate breaking up the monotony of rolling hills and brown grass waving in the howling wind. I laughed, replying “The end of the earth.” My eyes landed on the sign above the gas station and I interrupted my Dad’s laughter at my exaggeration, “No, really Dad, the sign has a big green Dinosaur on it.” I told him I was at a gas station somewhere between Colorado and Cody, Wyoming. As I fumbled with getting the 1970‘s style gas pump to work, I told him, “Even the pumps are archaic, they don’t even take credit cards.”
Last time I travelled to this area, I wrote about how this state inspires me as I drove through it.
Today, as I pulled off the road en route to my destination and put the skinny rubber to the single track, I realized that this state inspires me on the bike as well.
The roadside geology of Wyoming historically engages us to appreciate how this earth formed to what we know it today. The stratified layers create a rainbow of stories from oceans, to dinosaurs, to humans. I appreciate this landscape for the story that it tells us.
I try to conjure up my geological knowledge as I ride along on the red rim trail. From the cretaceous period to the Jurassic period, the layers change as I role along from red sandstone to white crumbly limestone. The flora changes as well from green bushes sparsely populated along the trail back down to sage brush.
So much of this state has remained sporadically untouched for centuries. Parts of dirt, soil, and sagebrush only touched by the wagon trains that passed through on the Overland Trail, Oregon Trail, and Mormon Trail. Vast spaces have been left in the hands of the government and only opened to energy development, not housing complexes or more mega box stores.
Like a modern day pioneer, I feel have so much to explore, but instead of four wagon wheels, I am on 2 bike wheels. It is unique, incredible, and most awe-inspiring. My goal is to continue mountain biking through this state on various trails, historical routes, and mountain passes;continuing to check them off one by one.
Many of us have lists, or bucket lists of what we want to do, see, and visit before we leave this earth. But, some of the best adventurous are truly just in our back yard.
You can read more about my adventures at: www.MountainKait.com