Day Two: Explore Wheatland
Wake up in Esterbrook Campground and break camp after a cup of H & S Double Diamond Dark coffee, roasted right down in Laramie. Sit for a while and listen to the wind in the pines. It is okay to feel a little sad. Drive out on Harris Park Road, down to Wheatland and eat breakfast at The Western Sky’s Family Diner. Split The Hangover with your traveling buddy - grass-fed beef patty and two eggs sunny-side-up over fried potatoes, topped with green chile and a side of salsa.
Next, take a leisurely trip over to Laramie on Highway 34 (who needs the interstate) remember it's a road trip and you should have a good time! Once in Laramie, stop at Born in a Barn. Start off with a side of their homemade chips. Then dive into the Pork Green Chili Mac - mac and cheese topped with pulled pork, bacon, BBQ sauce, roasted green chile, and Asiago crumbles. You can thank me later for splitting The Hangover this morning! Don’t forget to admire the Laramie Mural Projects you pass on the stroll back to your truck. “Gill Street” is a hoot!
For the evening, head on over through Centennial to Snowy Range. Be sure to stop at the Ranger Station on the east side for an MVUM and some advice from the rangers – snow is a real thing around here – lots and lots of snow. If they say it’s a go then head up on 101 to North Fork Campground and grab site #13. You’re right there on the creek bank and it babbles all night long. Stroll around camp some and admire the enormous, almost white Columbines. They are everywhere!
Now, back in the truck for a drive up 101, pull over at a few stream crossings. Make sure you have your Rocky Mountain Flower ID book. How else will you figure out those are Avalanche Lilies in every meadow?! Back at camp get out the griddle for cheddar quesadillas and a bowl of beef veggie soup. Be prepared to say hi to your neighbors. Campers tend to be friendly. You might even meet a nice couple from three sites over, let’s call them Steve and Karen, who regale you with how they retired seven years ago and are now “homeless”, living in a camper and traveling the country. Soon this could be YOU!
Get out your notepad – they might even have some good leads for next summer, like that dispersed camp site on the way to Medicine Wheel.
No fire tonight. Instead you’re gonna pull out your telescope and aim it towards Jupiter. FOUR moons you say? Yep, there they are, clear as day. If you are lucky you might make out the rings of Saturn. Tonight would be a good time to pull out that bottle of Small Batch Wyoming Whisky you bought this morning at The Still back in Laramie and toast the owner who warned you about the snow. After a drink (or two) pull out your notepad again. You need a reminder to call a real estate agent. It’s starting to feel like time to move out this way!
Day Three: Ending at the Divide
Wake up at North Fork Campground and break camp. Breakfast includes fresh blueberry pancakes with syrup and bacon with another French press full of Double Diamond - giving you the energy to start the morning early. Go back down to the creek and get your feet wet one last time. Is that a bear on the other side? Or just a rock pretending to be a bear? Say goodbye and head west over Snowy Range Road.
First stop, Libby Flats observation point. Get out, walk around with that wildflower book, but remember to identify from the sidewalk. This is fragile soil and those tidy clusters of pink Moss Campion and bright blue Forget-Me-Not are barely eking out a living up here. They don’t need your boot to crush their dreams! Hike up to the “castle” and identify the 360-degree panorama of peaks. Who knew that looking south reveals Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park?
Next stop Mirror Lake. Take some time to walk around and admire Medicine Bow Peak before leaving for Encampment and the Sierra Madres to the west. Remember to stop at the west side Ranger Station for advice on campgrounds.
During lunchtime, set up camp at Lost Creek Campground just off Highway 70. There’s a beautiful little meadow complete with a picnic table to lay out bologna from Ulrich Meat Market back in Pella, Iowa, crackers, baby dill pickles, and homemade mustard ( ¼ c dry mustard, ¼ c water, ¼ c white vinegar, ½ c sugar, 1 egg – mix in saucepan, whisk and simmer until thick. Refrigerate). Pack your daypack while you are eating because the Continental Divide Trail passes through not far from camp and there is plenty of daylight left to get some good hiking with some great views, complete with more Avalanche Lilies!