I had been sitting on my hands for most of the summer. With a large sailing trip planned for September I convinced myself to lay low for the months of June and July. By the time August rolled around I could sit still no longer. I reached out and invited myself along for a few climbing trips. One to Saddleback Peak(Elephants Perch) and the other to Tensleep, Wyoming.
As the dates grew closer for the Tensleep trip the forecast took a turn. A few people backed out, but others, having taken time off from work were committed. As for me, my schedule was clear because it was a week before the trip to Europe and besides I was excited for time away from the desk and nights of sleeping on the ground. The morning we left the Salt Lake Valley it was raining heavily. Into Wyoming on I-80 we managed to pull out in front of the storm. Knowing it would eventually catch up to us we decided to take it slow and made a couple of stops along the way.
Just west of Lander, Wyoming are the small mining villages of South Pass and Atlantic City. I’d driven to Lander, Cody and the Wind Rivers before and each time had ignored these signs. My impression was that it would be a tourist trap. This time driving to Tensleep, knowing a rainy camp was the only thing we had to look forward, I figured, “Why not?”
The Carissa gold Mine of South Pass City was our first stop. Mining in the South Pass erupted in the 1860’s. The Carissa Mine operated into the 1950’s. At the turn of the 21st Century the State of Wyoming purchased the mine and reconstructed it for the public to see. During the summer months they offer tours. Turning off the main highway we rolled down the improved road until this mine interrupted the horizon of the high plains.
After Carissa we made the short drive to small collection of old cabins and eclectic homes in Atlantic City, where the city sign read, “Population about 54.” We stopped at the Atlantic City Mercantile for sarsaparillas. This bar and grill is filled with antiques and memorabilia and was brought back to the public’s attention by Robert Redford and National Geographic. Built in the late 1800’s it was shuttered in the first half of the 20th Century then reopened in the 1960’s with its original name and look. Dave, the barkeep for the last twelve years, informed us they were fresh out of sarsaparilla so we had to settle for barley pops instead. Yes, it felt like I was tourist, but man it was till cool to stop and check out the history.
We did eventually make to Tensleep Canyon and did wait out the rain for another day before actually climbing. I stayed away from the desk, slept in the mud and did get a little climbing in to boot.