Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska, plus a "Trudge Report"

Hi all, Dianne here.  Our second day in Gering, Nebraska was spent at nearby Scotts Bluff National Monument.  Scotts Bluff was a famous landmark for the wagon trains moving west on the Oregon Trail.  I'll save the history lesson for later, but first a "trudge report":

 See the wind-ey trail going up, up, UP to the top of Scott's Bluff?  If only this photo had audio with it, you would hear comments like this:

"We're going all the way to the top??"
"Huff, Puff -- What part of this do you think is fun?

I admit to whining a good part of the way, between gasping for breath. 

In his defense, Roger did offer to turn back and drive to the top (see photo below showing the paved road -- even the road needed a tunnel!)

Realizing that we hadn't had much exercise lately, and that the dogs (especially Bandido) needed some strenuous exercise, I decided to "suck it up" and trudge on.  (Another factor was the cute shorts I'd just bought at Cabela's -- didn't want to get too fat to wear them before even cutting off the tags).

Anyway, as usual, Roger was right and I'm glad we hiked it.  We would have missed some beautiful scenery, had we just taken the drive.  I'll just say that I enjoyed the hike back down a lot more than going up!

What a beautiful day!  Low 70s, sunshine and beautiful spring flowers everywhere.  

 Bandido got to wear his backpack, and he and Chaplin both sported new bandanas.  Roger got to sport his new Cabela's hat.

To see a photo slideshow of the entire hike, you can click on the following link to my photobucket web album:

After the hike we were all starving, so we had a picnic lunch outside the visitor's center.  Roger and I took turns inside, and we both enjoyed the 12-minute movie recounting the history of this site.  

While Roger was inside taking his turn, I took the dogs on another short interpretive hike.  I saw representations of the three types of covered wagons most people used to go west.  

When we got to the Platte River area, I dug out and re-read a very interesting book I'd bought last year at one of the national parks.  It recounts diaries of women who made the trip on wagon trains during the 1840s - 1860s.  After reading about the hardships they endured (including cooking outside over an open fire in the rain, deaths from cholera and childbirth, Indian attacks, walking 15 miles a day over mostly monotonous prairies) it meant a lot to me to walk just a bit of the actual ground they passed over.  

The short hike past the covered wagons led to a section of the original trail where wagon ruts are still visible after 150 years.  

The wagons had to pass single file through a bottleneck here at Scott's Bluff, and the wagon wheels wore ruts into the sandstone.  

Since we were nearby, we drove 16 miles to get a quick look at Chimney Rock, another milestone on the Oregon Trail.  It is listed as a national historic site, but it is maintained by the Nebraska Historical Society, so our national park passes only allowed a discount here, not free admission.  
Another short movie in the visitor's center, and a view of Chimney Rock.  This is as close as you are allowed to get to it.

Here's a link to the book I read on Amazon, if you want more info.  I know there are other pioneer diary books available, as well. 

Roger took about 800 photos of a very pretty sunset from our camp site.  I'll let him pick through and decide which one to post!

The pet photo of the day shows my handsome boys after our picnic, modeling their bandanas:


Nancy and Bill said...

Way to go Diane and Oh, you too Roger;o)) Glad you hiked the is just so much more personal than riding up.

One of our favorite places is The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center near Baker City, Oregon. It always struck me how bad these peoples lives must have been to put up with the conditions and dangers they faced moving west. But thank goodness they were willing to take the chance!!

Your post reminded me of the sacrafices made so we can travel about the country as we do today!!

Gin and Syl said...

The scenery was beautiful but I'm sure the altitude hiking was pretty tough. Thanks for sharing. Safe travels.