The variables lined up for a winter camping adventure: sunny 40 degree days, nights around freezing, and low wind speeds. The winds while driving were actually much higher than expected–35 mph gusts on I-25. However, I did not know that when we took off, so I learned what those wind speeds are like when pulling the camper. Truthfully, not a big deal. Now I know and I am glad for the learning experience.
Anyway, Kerry (son), a 4th grade friend of ours, Maggie (son’s dog), Tango (my dog) and I headed out to Curt Cowdy State Park, near Cheyenne. The lake was frozen solid and we saw a number of ice fishermen:
We took two hikes. The first day, the trail was up high, along the top of a canyon. At one point, heavy chains were attached to the rock. We had to hang onto the chains–like a stair railing– to pass through. This was especially exciting with the snow on the trail and the frozen lake waaaay down below.
Although the ice fishermen were out, we were the only campers. I picked a site with electricity so we could plug in the heated mattress pads. The guys and dogs slept in the two side beds, and I slept on converted dinette bed (next to the heater).
We played a bit on the ice in the morning!
Along the way home, we saw 4 Rough-Legged Hawks, soaring. I have long suspected Rough-Legged Hawks in that area but never got a good look at their tail markings until this trip. Confirmed: a new bird for the “life list”. I could not get a photo but here is one from online:
Every winter I see the light morph shown above, perched just like this on fence posts along I- 25, north of Cheyenne, around mile marker 30. On this day, we saw the dark versions soaring, between mile markers 25 and 55. Amazing fact about these birds: Wyoming is their balmy winter home. They spend summers breeding on the Arctic Tundra.