Following Our Path at Pathfinder

DSCN2967by Neva Bodin

Planning a very busy month in June with another 3 week nurse aide training class to organize and teach, I suggested we take a couple nights now to camp out at Pathfinder Dam, about 40 miles from our home. It is spilling over due to the abundant snow pack in the Rocky Mountains. This is only the fourth time it has spilled over in the last 30 years. And the spillway was raised after the last time in 2011. Spectacular show now.

Pathfinder Dam, completed in 1909, has a small cemetery of workers nearby who died while working on the dam. Named for General John Charles Fremont, known as the Pathfinder, and now surrounded by the large Pathfinder Ranch, the dam was quarried of granite blocks near the canyon. These blocks, split to weight of 8-10 tons, were put in place by huge cables. Pins that held these cables can still be seen sticking out of granite slabs. It was an engineering feat at the time.DSCN3017Nearby on one path we found Pelican Haven, by a side creek. One pelican had regurgitated: 100’s of 1 inch minnows and a 3 inch crayfish. We were wondering what they were finding to eat….

Cement for the dam, hauled from Casper 47 miles away by horse and wagon took three days by fast team, and many more days if the team was slow. Freight teams consisted of two horses, mules and a 220 horse team drawing five wagons loaded with 31,000 pounds of cement. The contractor’s pay for the journey–$3. Final cost was 2.2 million dollars.

Calm Pathfinder Lake, our first day.

Today it is a busy recreation/camping/fishing area. And twice we have observed a man wind sailing across the lake with 40+ mph gales. It is a deceptive lake, calm and serene reflecting the surrounding mountains, then throwing a tantrum with strong wind gusts, and occasionally drowning the unwary fisherman/boater.

Strong winds 2nd day brought lake too close, washed away base for stabilizer–we moved!

We took our four-wheeler. A fantastic two days. Let me do a pictorial version of our short vacation. Besides the beautiful scenery, calm and then ferocious water, we saw baby antelope, a bull snake, pelicans, seagulls, robins, grackles, baby rabbits, Merganser ducks, fish jump, buzzards, numerous flowers, cliff swallows, a very fast little gecko, and people.

The approx. 4 ft long Bull Snake I almost stepped on while walking near our camper.

I am in love with Wyoming’s state flower, the Indian Paintbrush. It is a parasite, feeding off the roots of other plants, most favorite, the beautiful, hardy sage brush. It may also photosynthesize for itself a bit. The flowers are edible and were used for rheumatism and other maladies by the Indians. The green parts may be poisonous due to concentrations of selenium.

Yellow Indian Paintbrush, may be called Christ’s Paintbrush.


I am fascinated by this untouched land surrounding this huge engineering accomplishment.

One of two baby antelope, hiding right beside our four-wheeling trail.

I came home and hurried to a local elementary school where I read two of my children’s stories to grades 1-5 for their fine arts days. That too was delightful.

Red Paintbrush
The resulting waterfall beyond the spillover.

20 thoughts on “Following Our Path at Pathfinder

  1. Wow. Some great photos. It sure looks like a great place to do some camping and hiking. And glad to see lots of water spilling over Pathfinder Dam. Maybe some of it will make its way to Southern Nevada and help fill Lake Meade.


    1. That would be a great things wouldn’t it? We saw how low that was in January when we went to Mesa. Pathfinder is a great place to hike or four-wheel, or just sit by the lake, when the wind was gone.


  2. I know why you love Wyoming, it is a beautiful state. I feel the same about Colorado. There is so much raw beauty added to by places such as the dam. Thank you so much for sharing. Doris


      1. You are correct about that. One thing about working in the tourism industry, you get to tell folks about the ‘smaller’ more intimate places. I love steering folks to the great small museums in the area. Doris


  3. Thanks Neva. I loved the photos and the descriptions. That snake looks scarey. Sounds like you have a lot going on. I keep saying I’m looking forests to the day when I don’t have so much to do. My husband says i woukd just create something new to do, and I know he’s right. Cher’ley


    1. thanks. It’s true, if I don’t have something to do, I feel lazy and at loose ends and I create something! I think it might be a woman thing left over from multi-tasking when marriage and children are young. Plus our creative natures have to move forward!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your outdoor photos cal to me, Neva, They are fabulous though I’m not that great with snakes. In Scotland, we only have the very shy adder which rarely shows itself but that one above would really freak me out. The waterfall is wonderful. On my road trip between San Francisco and Vancouver (Canada) we stopped off at as many waterfalls as we could manage. The US has a very impressive supply!


  5. Something about waterfalls is fascinating, be they little or large, to me. The Windriver Canyon which we travel on the way to our daughter’s is full of little frozen waterfalls in winter and I love looking at those too. They come out of the rocks that make up the canyon walls. Glad you got to seem some on your trip.


  6. Sounds like a truly lovely place! I’ve never been in a setting like that, so I’d love to visit it sometime. Hold the snake, though.


    1. It is a lovely, peaceful place on a calm day out of season! Wide open spacies with Pedro mountain inviting exploration not too far away. That is where the Pedro mountain mummy was discovered many years ago. And a gold mine.


    1. Thanks Sarah. I think bull snakes and rattlers are the most common around here, those are the ones we see most anyway. Bull snakes eat rattlers I’m told, but can den together in winter. Strange bedfellows!


  7. Wonderful post, Neva! I’ve noticed lots of people going out to Pathfinder and spending time. Glad you and hubby had a little getaway … although that snake could have stayed FAR AWAY, in my opinion! I likely would have need the helicopter ambulance as I would have had a heart attack!! 🙂


  8. I agree, Wyoming is stunning with all beauty surrounding. The different colored paintbrush are mesmerizing. Once upon a time I thought they only came red, but now I have realized they come in my different colors. Truly amazing!


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