Published July 27, 2000? in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.
2014 Update: Recreation at North Crow Reservoir is now managed by Curt Gowdy State Park staff. Restrooms have been built at the two major parking lots, but camping is not permitted.
By Barb Gorges
July 4th weekend our family drove out one morning to North Crow Reservoir to our favorite access point, only to find an encampment at the side of the parking lot numbering half a dozen tents and including girls in pink pajamas, men in lawn chairs and loose dogs lounging.
There are no signs banning camping at North Crow Reservoir, but there are also no amenities. I know that if I go back now, a few weeks later, I’m going to find little toilet paper flags behind every bush and tree within 100 yards of the roads warning me to watch where I step.
A whole book has been written about dealing with toilet issues in the outdoors, including digging little holes for deposits, but in a heavily used area this is not a conscientious option. My preference is to put everything under a dry cowpie or rock for natural decomposition with less unsightliness. I have a friend who takes her used t.p. home in a plastic bag.
Some of the vehicles parked by the encampment may have belonged to people fishing. We’re used to seeing up to half a dozen during ice fishing season. However, by nature of their skittish quarry, fishermen are a quiet bunch compared to campers.
We opted for another parking area with only one parked vehicle and no loose dogs. The men in my family headed out with fishing poles, and the dog and I, rather than hike around a lake wreathed in tents, opted for higher country and hopped the fence into the national forest.
Summer is a crowded season for birds too. I wonder what the resident species think when the migrants move in for the summer. And everyone has noisy children begging for food.
Last year’s young, the teenagers so to speak, don’t fit in and head for the fringes, the marginal habitat. That’s the story of the American white pelican.
It may show up in any Wyoming reservoir – some have even been seen on F.E. Warren Air Force Base this summer, but the breeding records show only a few specific reservoirs, actually have breeding pelicans.
There’s a chance though, that the young may begin to feel at home in one of the marginal areas, perhaps the fishing improved, and they’ll be the ones to settle new territory.
As long as I bring along food and water (and toilet paper), I too can explore new territory, though, with the number of cowpies where I was hiking, it’s evident this was merely a pasture some cowboy probably knows like the back of his hand.
The dog and I hiked up hill after hill to see what was on the other side, enjoying landscape unmarred by empty beverage containers. The idea of rattlesnakes crossed my mind briefly.
One branch of my family settling in Wisconsin in the 1850’s must have been considered reckless adventurers by their folks back in the old country. The way sport utility vehicles have become so popular, I’d be willing to say the American quest for the rugged frontier must be genetic.
Looking back from the top of the last hill I wanted to climb, the holiday encampment was only a dime-sized spot on the edge of the water. It was getting hotter. Grasshoppers were bouncing off my shirt.
It was time to go back to civilization for a little shade and let the dog get his feet wet. Down by the creek the trees were thick with birds and bugs.
Before my fishermen were ready to leave, six more vehicles showed up.
It was ironic that two evenings later, standing in my own city neighborhood, a herd of pelicans passed directly over my head. They’ve been known to stop over at Holliday Park.
I suppose in the pelican world that would be considered a reckless adventure.