Apex point - © Robert Sommers 2024

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Brush Creek Ranch


Mirror Lake, Medicine Bow National Forest

Leslie and I have spent the better part of a week in Wyoming, at one of the finest guest ranches in the country, Brush Creek Ranch. Brush Creek lies between Saratoga and Laramie, Wyoming, just west of Medicine Bow National Forest and the Snowy Range.

early morning cloud formation

We were fortunate enough to have been gifted the trip by some dear friends, one of whom was celebrating a "special" number birthday. 

We flew to Denver last week, rented an SUV and drove the next four hours to the ranch. We had a beautiful cabin and great accommodations. Top shelf.

The staff could not have been any nicer. The management was genuine and congenial, the other guests all quite friendly and affable. No politics, no division, thankfully cut off from the world.

There were a host of activities we could sign up for but a lot of the stuff I wasn't really into. They don't specifically cater to photographers.

I was also kicking myself for not bringing a tripod. We flew Frontier and they charge for everything, our baggage fees more than double our airfare. I couldn't add an extra lb. 

Which was unfortunate because there was no moon, the milky way was on fire up in the skies and I had no way to shoot it. Didn't figure I could borrow a tripod so I didn't ask.

Archery, cattle drives, I am more about getting lost in nature and shooting pictures. So I hired a guide to give me a tour of the general layout. A couple guides and tours actually,

I jumped into her Ranger and we surveyed the 30,000 acre property, or at least a portion of it. Had a blast!

It was not long before I found this bull moose munching on the willows, not a daily occurrence on the ranch. I was lucky. 

The area is really beautiful right now, the aspens are starting their chromatic shift to scarlet.

The place abounds with great flora and fauna, but with an emphasis on magpies which are ever present and rather noisy. 

They dominate the airwaves in these parts.

antilocapra americana

I saw a lot of neat animals, including a multitude of deer, pronghorn and sagegrouse. 

Even an occasional prairie dog.

Mountain Bluebird

The place was truly wonderful as were our gracious hosts. 

Leslie and I had not been anywhere together in almost five years, maybe longer. Since Italy.

Cats and careers. So happy we were able to finally break away.

Second day we drove up to Medicine Bow and explored the National Forest.

Medicine Bow was named for the mountain manzanita tree that the native people found there that was used to make their best bows. 

Local tribes included the Arapaho, Arikara, Bannock, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Sheep Eater, Sioux, Shoshone and Ute.

We discovered a lovely grove of aspen on the fairly unused Barber Lake cut off road. The place is just magnificent, would look lovely in an early snow, not sure why I have never heard of it or explored it before?

red tailed hawk

The only problem with the ranch is that they are feeding you incredible food all day long. Sick, I probably gained five lbs. and it definitely shows. The wagyu beef produced there is other worldly in its excellence. Nice saloon for pool, drinks and laughter.

Our hosts like to do stuff and second afternoon we all went out shooting. No problem, I have always had guns but honestly haven't shot for a long time.

We started with pistols, 22 caliber. 9mm, 38 and up. Then long rifles, shotguns and the like. We all performed well, Leslie surprisingly well. 
Les hit her clay target on the first swing with the 12 guage.

A golden eagle soared far above us, high above all the cacophony.

We got to sniper rifles and 308 caliber rifles on tripods and the fun really started. 

Leslie, Doug and I were hitting dish sized targets at 1060 yards. 

You would shoot and then listen three beats for a ping of metal. 

Incredibly accurate and so much fun. They ended up calling Leslie the assassin. Who knew? 

I am not going to give you a daily play by play, no point. I ended up in the forest by myself a couple times, drove into Saratoga, which seems like a very boss town, replete with a free mineral hot springs pool. Wanted a t-shirt from the Beaver Liquor store but they didn't open until eleven. So juvenile.

We went horseback riding one day for a couple hours. I had a big palomino named trouble who was actually okay. 

We set mutual terms, got along fine. Hadn't ridden since my horse died but you never forget. My arthritic left knee was definitely hurting afterward.

We had a good time, made a couple stream crossings, bushwacked a little. The next day I drove up at sunrise to watch the wranglers stampede the approximately 130 head of horses to the corrals.

I took up a spot where the first wrangler told me to go, later another one yelled at me for being there. Oh well, can't please everybody, sometimes you have to please yourself.

Excuses...It was early, it was dark and I missed a lot of shots. Brought two lenses, could have used four, including the sharp 400mm. Won't put that one on a plane, too valuable and delicate. Need to drive next time and nail it.

Did the best I could, considering, and had a good time. Will take a while to even look at, let alone process all these shots. Might be a keeper? we shall see...

I loved being near all the horses running around.  I look forward to looking at all these and seeing what I caught.

Want to thank my hosts once again, what an amazing gift! We had a perfect week, but all too short. We drove back to Denver and had lunch with my beautiful sister Laurie, had not seen her in way too long. Quick flight home and then heard it from the cats for leaving them like that for five days. Good to be home.


Anonymous said...

These are stunning, and I want a T-shirt from that liquor store too…. Jhciacb

island guy said...

Red and blue roan are my favorite horse colors. Seeing the top photo gave me a really happy feeling, I can almost smell the sweat and old leather smell of a good trail ride….

Sanoguy said...

If she shoots that well, don’t piss her off!

Anonymous said...

So is the lesson I need better friends or I need to be a better friend?

Blue Heron said...

Great question. We are both lucky and grateful to have all of our friends. We appreciate all of you equally.We feel very fortunate.

Anonymous said...

blast photos amazing we want to go!

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert
Thank You for posting all these amazing pictures…I love the narrative. You have an amazing eye for photography. It’s super cool to see your work and learn about your life. I’m really happy to reconnect with you and Leslie (I have meet her at the store Caravan). I have been patiently waiting to see where you were Wyoming is awesome

Wicki said...

I loved “going” on your fantastic trip. Thanks so very much for sharing the photos and the narrative which did almost make me feel like I was there.

Anonymous said...

Aloha Nui Loa,what an incredible experience,love You Always

Ken Seals said...

I'm really enjoying your photos from the trip!

Linda Wilson said...

What a wonderful trip!