Chuck Mack: Buffalo Park, Part 5

We arrived at our camping spot by the Stage Station just about lunchtime on the 29th.

We are fortunate it's a good place to camp and only 75 miles from Craig. Of course there's no shade, but this time of year shade is something you don't look for. We always keep our eyes peeled for good camping spots and there are several good, fairly flat camping spots in the shade of the trees in this area and we will keep that in mind until next summer. We first checked at the Forest Service Office in Yampa to make sure remote camping is permitted in that area. And they informed, us being as how the regular campground on top of Gore Pass had been closed all summer, that they were allowing remote camping in the area. We got the camper unhooked, leveled up and the slide out extended, and then we had a quick lunch.

We decided we had plenty enough time for a sightseeing drive so we returned to Highway 134 and went up Gore Pass until we came to Forest Service Road 250 and followed that road until we came to Forest Service Road 100. Forest Service Road 250 is the road that follows up along Rock Creek quite a ways before joining with road 100. Forest Service Road 100 will take you over to Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass or if you turn the other direction it will take you back to Gore Pass on the eastern slope. Going towards Rabbit Ears Pass, this road takes you into and through Buffalo Park before joining with Highway 40.

We were kind of disappointed in the colors on this route, but really there aren't all that many aspen trees to be disappointed in. Mostly, it's pine timber but normally where there are aspen they should be beautiful, but not this trip. I'm certainly not complaining because the drive itself is more than worth the trip. Buffalo Park could best be described as an open high mountain meadow. The vegetation is a mixture of mountain grasses; and along the streams that meander through the park are the willows; and along the edges of the meadows is deep green pine forest. I have always been amazed as to how Mother Nature does things. In this case you have this big open meadow surrounded by pine trees. In my mind I wonder: what is it that makes the pine trees stop at the edge of the meadow instead of encroaching until they overtake the open meadow? Of course that's something I have no answer for but I suppose the open meadow with the bordering pine trees have been there for thousands of years. The only difference between then and now is the absence of buffalo.

Darn, I mentioned buffalo. The park would have buffalo and of course, where the buffalo roamed, the Indians also roamed. So naturally, I had to take time in my mind for daydreaming and I had to place an Indian village into the scene along the meadow. The village would be a summer hunting camp, and with the approaching hint of winter in the autumn air, the camp would be a beehive of activity. All those buffalo hides that had been cured during the summer would have to be bundled and made ready for transporting. All of the buffalo jerky that had been tied to the long strings of rawhide stretched between poles where it had been drying and curing would have to be taken down and bundled and made ready for transporting. The women of the village had no doubt been picking and drying sarvisberries ever since the berry season began and they would have been gathering wild grain from the grasses in the meadow. Now, they would be busy with their crude stone grinding devices, turning the dried berries and wild grain into a flour-like substance. The village itself would have to be dismantled, teepee by teepee, and made ready for transporting. The children of the village would no doubt be frantically playing games and fishing in the nearby streams. Like all children, they would be hating the thoughts of leaving such a beautiful place. The pack horses that probably had grown fat and lazy on the meadow grass might be a little hard to round up and made ready for the journey.

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