By Bill Sniffin, publisher
All across Wyoming, folks fled the valley heat to head to the mountains over this Labor Day weekend.
Just about every public camping spot and everyone’s secret mountain spot is occupied as a Cowboy State tradition continued this weekend.
With snow predicted Monday night and Tuesday in many parts of the state, this truly signaled the end of the summer in many people’s minds.
We all know that a nice Indian Summer will be coming after that bad weather but superstition prevents us from not taking advantage of the cool weather high above us this weekend.
There are more bow hunters than ever and they were in abundance in the mountains, too.
In my case, it could not have been more beautiful in the Wind River Mountains above Lander on Labor Day weekend than it was Saturday.
With near-record temperatures of 97 in Lander Valley, the lure of the mountains was almost intoxicating.
We started by attending a dedication of a plaque for a modern Wyoming back country hero, Jimmy Smail, at Grannier Meadows. A wonderful memorial was placed on a big rock there in front of a crowd of 200 friends and family.
In the tradition of old-timer explorers like Jim Bridger and John Fremont and more modern-day Finis Mitchell, Smail was a pioneer in snowmobiles, trail bikes, jeeps, and just about any all-around exploring.
He once estimated he had driven over a million miles in lonely Wyoming places astride back country vehicles.
Jim was a good friend of mine for 50 years. He died from complications of Alzheimer’s in February.
My wife Nancy and I love the Loop Road above Lander. It is one of the few nice roads that allow folks into the towering Wind River Mountains.
On this day we started from the Louis Lake turnoff from Highway 28 and drove the almost 30 miles to Sinks Canyon State Park outside of Lander.
We followed a caravan of three side-by-side ATVs that were jammed with young folks and old folks having a fun time. They looked happy but, frankly, it looked dusty and pretty uncomfortable. Good for them.
The beach at Louis Lake was jammed and lots of boats were on the lake. It was a wonderful day with little wind, which is not normal in the afternoon in a place called the Wind River Mountains.
A family was swimming in the Little Popo Agie River. That water was melted snow not that long ago. It was a hot sunny day and that river water must have been really refreshing.
Kudos to the U. S. Forest Service for the wonderful work they have done to the Loop Road in recent years.
We were driving our venerable 2004 “Big Blue,” a diesel Ford Excursion 4WD but we could have driven our Lincoln on that road.
Few places had the traditional washboard effect and overall, the trip was very pleasant.