Cross Country Descent
Three families from Laramie trusted my judgment that a winding canyon paralleling Interstate-80 would indeed come out onto the Laramie Plains not far from where we parked two of our four cars. The Flecks, Robinsons and Wieblers all met at the foot of Telephone Canyon to park two of our cars. My wife and Joe’s wife had to study for exams the upcoming week and missed out on this upcoming adventure. We all crowded into two bigger SUV’s with our cross country skis and drove up I-80 to the Happy Jack Road Exit where we parked and unloaded our skis.
Big Jim Wiebler started to sing auf Deutsch some German folksongs as we all clipped into our skis. My three children and I along with Joe Robinson and his daughters followed Jim and Fran Wiebler with their two daughters. We quickly descended a very snowy slope in mid-January and whizzed past jack pine trees. Jim continued to sing out loud as jolly as could be.
“Oh-oh,” Jim shouted.
“What’s wrong,” I shouted down to him.
“The canyon has divided into two canyons! Which one should we take, Dick?”
I noticed that the one to the right followed too closely in its descent the noisy interstate highway. So I suggested we hook to the left. Surely that canyon won’t come out on the Laramie Plains too far away from the other.
“Right you are!” shouted Jim.
So all eleven of us veered to the left and whizzed along passing a herd of antelope who simply stared at us humans in wonderment. We descended and descended at a fairly good speed, sometimes getting hung up in concealed sagebrush. Boy, it had gotten cold! I guessed we should be half way down the canyon to Laramie, but it seemed to take a good bit longer than I had anticipated.
Finally an hour later, we could barely discern the Laramie Plains below. Fran gleefully suggested we take a break because she carried a surprise for us in her backpack. We all leaned against some stunted pines in the forest surrounding us as she poured hot chocolate into paper cups for all the children.
“Where’s ours?” asked Joe Roninson.
“Not to worry!” Fran shouted. She proceeded to pour brandy into cups for each adult and said “Cheers!” What a gal, I thought to myself. Brandy hit the spot as we shoved off to ski and ski downward, ever downward until at last we reached the valley floor of the Laramie Plains. But wait a minute! Was that the cement plant we saw across the way? Since the cement plant is a good seven miles south of town, we knew we were all in for a long overland journey to get to our two cars.
I hadn’t realized how many icy rills and knolls and gulleys a winter prairie has! As the children started to complain, good old Fran stopped and pulled out of her pack candy bars for all of us. A much better choice than canned sardines that I brought! We skied up an down icy ravines for what seemed like hours. The sun began to set. Where the hell is Laramie?? Finally, under dark sky, one by one of our expedition of eleven skied through backyards of peoples homes just off of the interstate highway.
One gentlemen came out onto his back porch and shouted, “Where the hell have all you guys come from?”
Joe Robinson, in a mirthful mood, shouted at the top of his lungs “Fort Collins!” We all roared with laughter. We had skied far but not that far. Fort Collins, Colorado is sixty-five miles to the south. None the less we all felt like we had skied sixty-five miles. It was a pleasurable moment to crowd into our cars and drive back up to get the other two heavily frosted vehicles and drive back to our home for a nice cookout that my wife and Joe’s wife helped prepare in our absence. I guess they wondered why it took so damned long for us to ski down a canyon.