The Trailblazers

      There are so many fascinating things to see in our great United States.  I wish I had time to stop at all of the scenic vistas, hike all of the trails and visit the many historical spots along the way.  While traveling through Wyoming we learned the state may not have a lot of people living in it but it does have the Oregon Trail. 


     Along the Oregon Trail there are numerous points of interest and historical sites.  The wagon trains traveled about twenty miles a day through the rugged terrain of the west crossing rivers and mountains.  It wasn’t uncommon for people, especially children, to be ran over by wagons and sometimes killed along the way.


  Independence Rock  


 One place of interest that intrigued me was a place called Independence Rock.  This large rock in a landscape of hills and valleys was a place the wagon trains would often stop to camp.  If groups weren’t at this place by the 4th of July then it was said they wouldn’t be able to make it to their ultimate destination by winter.  When the settlers were at the Independence Rock they could climb on top of it and see for miles.  Many of them signed or carved their names in the rock and you can still see these today. 


     I wanted to see Independence Rock and since night came before we got there we decided to spend the night at the Rest Area that is there now.   We had no idea what to expect since we arrived in the dark and would have to wait until daylight to explore.

 Oregon Trail Sunrise     Oregon Trail

     We awoke to a fresh skiff of snow on the ground and were surrounded by the wilderness of the foothills next to Independence Rock.  We quickly dressed and headed outside to explore the rock.  There was a trail encircling the rock and rabbits hopping everywhere.  We picked our way up the gigantic rock noting signatures along the way. 


     The view from the top was breathtaking, not only because the air was frigid but also because of the sight of the sun coming up behind the mountains.  To stand on top of this historic place and imagine those who had stood there before me was awe-inspiring.  I was mesmerized as I wiped snow off of names and dates carved into the rock from over 100 years ago.  It was like finding shells on the beach as I dusted away snow to reveal dates from as far back as 1852.


  Oregon Trail  


     I didn’t want to leave Independence Rock but the road was calling our name.  As we drove along the highway we saw signs for other historical sites and wished we had time to stop to learn more about the great wagon train adventure and the Oregon Trail.  We wanted to make it to Boise, Idaho that day and with snowy roads we knew it would take all day to get there.  We decided we just may have to take a trip just focusing on the Oregon Trail.


     The thoughts of the Oregon Trail reminded me of the first people to travel the Gunflint Trail.  The courage and sense of adventure it would take to make the decision to take those first steps into an uninhabited wilderness.  Not knowing what obstacles one would face or what possible dangers lurked ahead.  The challenge of traveling a rugged territory without the aid of modern equipment had to have been overwhelming at times.


     These days travel and navigation have been made much easier by technology.  Most challenges that face the modern day traveler are not life threatening as they were during the days of the Oregon Trail.   America would be a much different place today had those courageous individuals who set out in wagon trains been content to stay put where they were.


    If it weren’t for the early explorers of the Gunflint Trail then my life could be very different right now.  I’m thankful for the trailblazers who risked their lives in search of something better.

Oregon Trail