Day 2 Morell Nebraska to Guernsey Wyoming
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Yesterday afternoon Rhielle and Spencer became real bored setting around camp. After a nap I must admit that I could have handled a few more miles on the road myself. I think that our bodies kicked into gear because everyone felt better on the road this morning. I awoke and did a few things around camp, started water for instant oatmeal and then woke Spencer and Rhilelle. We each downed a couple of packets of instant oatmeal, broke camp and were on the road by 6:45. The road through the rest of western Nebraska was amazingly flat. I could have handled several days of that type of riding.
Along the way we passed Horse Creek which is the site of the big Indian treaty. It is estimated that there were at least 8,000 indians from all the plains tribes who came together for the signing of this historic treaty in September of 1851. Because the use of the trail along the Platte and North Platte rivers was so extensive the damage to their way of life and food sources was far reaching. For example in 1850 the California gold rush was in full swing and 50,000 emmigrants used the trail. They had 300,000 animals with them and the grass for two miles away from the river on both sides was consumed by the animals supporting the emmigrants. This wide barren gap permanently split the buffalo herds and changed their migration patterns as they moved to new food and water sources. This in turn made the life of the indians who depended on them more difficult. The indians justly felt that they deserved compensation for allowing the emmigrants to use the land which was distroying their way of life. The treaty signing was to occur at Fort Laramie but so many indians showed up that they had to move down river to Horse Creek where there was more grass for the horses. The treaty promised the indians a specific amount of goods for 10 years and could be renewed for another 5. With the treaty signed the indians thought it was all done. They did not understand that congress had to ratify the treaty and in congress the amount of compensation in the treaty was changed significantly. This started the distrust between the US Government and the indians. Even at that, the treaty lasted until 1864 when a young brave killed and fed his family with a lame cow belonging to one of the wagon trains. When the wagon train arrived at Fort Laramie they reported the incident. The army dispached 25 young men who understood nothing of the indian culture to arrest and dicipline the indian. Shots were fired and several people on both sides were killed. This started the wars with the plains indians which lasted until the indians were moved onto reservations. In general the indians were little problem for the emmigrants. Some of the tribes are reported to have helped with food, directions, and river crossings. Your chances of dying were much greater from disease, accidents or drowning at river crossings.
We arrived in Torrington Wyoming at 10:30 and stoped at a truck stop for muffins. Torrington was our short day, in case Dad wasn't doing well, destination. I was feeling great and we had a slight tail wind so after buying groceries for supper we headed out. We had lunch of peanut butter and jelly bagles at a rest area and kept on going. We arrived at Fort Laramie at 2:00 and spent a couple of hours looking at the fort. Up to this time the road had been mostly flat with just a few not steep hills to climb. Because all the camp grounds in Ft Laramie were near (next to) the railroad tracks with roads requiring the train horn to be blown, we filled up our water bottles and headed for Gurnsey. Here we made our first mistake. We should have taken the time to eat before we left. On a bicyle tour you eat about every two hours. I also didn't realize that the 13 miles to Gurnsey were full of such BIG rolling hills. It took another 2 hours to get to the rest area on the hill above Gurnsey and I bonked hard going up that last hill. There is a nice interpertive rest area on the top of the hill east of Gurnsey. We pulled in and after a bottle of Gateraid, a Payday bar, half a PowerBar and about 30 minutes I was starting to feel better. I worked up the energy to get back on the road and coast down the hill into town.
I told Rhielle and Spencer where the campground we were going to stay was located and sent them ahead to set up camp. I arrived and paid the camp fee and started on supper. While I was fixing supper Rhielle remembered that we didn't have groceries for the next day and headed out to find a grocery store. It turned out that she did not need to because racoons got into her pannier that night and ate most of what she bought. Something woke me up about 3:30 and I yelled at them. They stood up on their hind legs and barked at me. I thought that I was going to have to get my camp stool out and beat them off but they finally left. Fortunately they didn't damage anything other than our breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. Because we got into camp so late we were not able to see the trail ruts or register cliff today.
Copyright © Clarence Whetten 2001