Day Six – Big Sandy

Our last day to ride in the area before packing up and moving south.  We decided to just head toward the Big Sandy area and look for some good roads.  We headed south on US191 and turned left on W353 at Boulder.  This road is a part of the Continental Divide Trail.  Just before the turn onto W353 we noticed an Osprey nest on a pole just south of the city.  The power pole near the highway has supported an osprey nest for many years. Ospreys normally build their nests (eyries) on top of large columns of rock or in trees with broken tops. Utah Power and Light Company built this nest site by adding an extension and platform to an existing pole. This provides the birds a safer place to nest and prevents powerline damage due to falling nesting material. After traveling about five miles the pavement ended and turned to gravel.  After another couple of miles we found our first road we wanted to explore.  It was unmarked, but it followed the Silver Creek into the Silver Creek Canyon.  The dirt road narrowed and we were surrounded by the canyon walls.  We noticed some much smaller trails heading off toward the canyon walls.  We took one of the trails and it took us to nice view of the valley below.  There, we could see Big Sandy Road off in the distance.  We continued further on the dirt road but we came to a dead end after about eight miles.  We turned around and headed back to Big Sandy Road and continued east.  We stopped along the road before reaching Buckskin Crossing (KMZ).  This part of the Big Sandy River has been known as the Buckskin Crossing since the 1860s. Legend is that a trapper and hunter named Buckskin Joe lived here with his wife and daughter. The daughter died here. A marker is near his cabin site. This crossing was used by the fur companies and trappers, Captain Bonneville, Captain Wm. D. Stewart, and later by John C. Fremont. Captain Stewart’s artist—the noted Alfred Jacob Miller—made the first painting of this area in 1837. This ford of the Lander Cutoff of the Oregon Trail, campsite and burial ground was heavily used by the emigrants, their hundreds of wagons and thousands of mules, cattle and horses. This was the mail route from the east to the west side of the Wind River Mountains in the early 1900s. Big Sandy Creek was named by William Ashley on his trapping expedition in 1825. Of the thousands of people who passed this way only the wagon tracks and graves remain.  After the crossing we continued on toward the Big Sandy Recreation area.  This area is very popular with the hiking crowd.  The trail ends at the trailhead into the Bridger-Teton national Forest also known as the Cirque of the Towers.  We didn't have any certain direction, we were simply trying to avoid the rain.  Upon reaching the trailhead the rain began (KMZ).  We stopped under a stand of trees in a somewhat futile attempt to stay dry.  After the rainfall lightened we continued back the way we had come.  After a few miles we got a respite from the rain.  We saw a trail leading up some of the bluffs and we decided to explore.  These bluffs were at the base of Little Prospect Mountain, and we could see the trail leading to the Recreation area where we had just been (KMZ).  Back on the road we turned on the Emigrant Trail (Lander Cutoff).  We passed through the crossroads of Leckie, but I don't recall anything being there.  We crossed over the Little Sandy Creek and found our way back onto Big Sandy Road, now with the split name including Elkhorn Road.  We were getting back into rain so we decided to continue south toward Farson.  Off in the distance we saw a butte with a trail leading to it, so we decided to explore.  We couldn't quite find our way to the butte, and decided to cut our losses and head back the way we came.  There was a rather small creek we had gone around, but when we doubled back we discovered a need to cross it.  It didn't seem that difficult a crossing (famous last words) as I approached the creek.  It couldn't have been more than two feet wide and it was grass covered.  So, I gunned it just about flipped over the handlebars as my bike sunk several feet down.  I jumped of my steed and it easily remained upright.  My boot sank down in the muck, and I summoned Steve for assistance.  We both struggled and finally freed her.  We continued on to Farson in driving range and stopped at the city shelter for a reprieve.  After the rain slowed we continued back up US191 to Pinedale for some needed new clothes and warmth.