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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
Thursday, September 19
Back on the Green River
It is 7 AM on Thursday morning, and I’m sitting in a car waiting for the BLM guy to arrive. He’s taking us on a tour of the Trona Mine, but he managed to lock his keys in his car so he’s running a little late. We’ve locked many a key in a car on this trip, so really, he’s just keeping with the program.

It’s now several hours later, after the mine tour, and after I got to go on yet another paddle down the Green River. My arms are so tired I can barely hold them up to type, but I will soldier through somehow. First, I must describe last night, at the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, where we were treated to one wonderful occurrence after another. First of all, we stayed in a brand-new, three-bedroom house at the headquarters. There was no furniture, but there was carpet and walls and warmth and protection from the wind. Secondly, we got to spend the entire evening with Doug and Carol Damberg, two of the people who manage the refuge. They are great fun, informative, and simply wonderful. Cheryl, Paul and I made a huge dinner of steaks (and/or tofu), salad, and roasted potatoes and there were 16 of us eating together on our portable tables that stretched the length of the house. Dinner was abruptly interrupted by Mother Nature who put on a show out the back window that was beyond belief. The horizon was layered in a thick, orange-red mist, colored by the setting sun, and there was a stream running away from us which reflected the craziest rainbow I have ever seen. The only part of the rainbow that was visible, the edge that started at the horizon, looked perfectly vertical, and shone brilliantly through the reddish mist. It was amazing. Out in front of the house, facing west, was an equally gorgeous sky, albeit without the crazy colors. There were storms all over the land that we could see, miles and miles away, and you could pick out the sheets of rain covering valleys in the distance. Just incredible. I was on the computer, emailing a friend, and every few minutes I would run outside, holler at the beautiful sky, and run back in to keep typing. Sometimes when I see overwhelming beauty I just sorta have to scream out loud.

After dinner, and the sunset, we all went over to the new visitor’s center for a three-fold slide show. Carol went first, teaching us about Seedskadee and other wildlife refuges. Next Bob A. and then Bob V. showed us slides that they have taken so far on this journey. It was great fun. We tried to name every campground and every hiking trail from the last fifty-odd days and surprised ourselves at how much we had already forgotten. This whole trip has been information overload and it was nice to revisit the first few weeks of the trek. It also reminded us how long we have been gone. After today, only a week left…

This morning we woke at 6 to be on the road at 7, which naturally meant we left about 8. Our first stop was the Trona Mine. “Trona” is part baking soda and part soda ash, and 95% of the world’s trona comes from this area. We had to get all kinds of gear just to visit the mine- helmets, goggles, foot protectors, a breathing apparatus, earplugs, and a headlamp. We then got on an elevator of sorts that whisked us down over 800 feet below the surface of the earth. It was pretty much just a cage, and you could watch the lights from below get bigger and bigger as we plummeted down. The gear was heavy, and the mine a little… not small, but it felt small, and it certainly felt like there was no escape. The elevator ride was followed by a long truck ride, through cavernous tunnels, to the spot where they were currently mining. By then I was so stressed by my anxiety that I started getting really sleepy. This is always my defense mechanism. But we had another hour or so to go. It was certainly interesting and informative but I was starting to feel nauseous, and so were several team members near me. We watched a crew as they mined, which mostly involved men and women driving huge machines that carried the trona from the mining spot to the conveyor belt. I have a lot of respect for these folks- I could never work underground like they do, particularly not for their twelve-hour shifts. I’m sure I would adapt, but I don’t think I’d want to.

Finally, we went to the top, and we burst into the sunshine, thankful for the beautiful morning. Next was another paddle down the Green, and we drove to the river and lunched before shoving off. I somehow lucked into another spot on the canoes, and we all lucked out on the weather. It was beautiful- not to cool, certainly not too warm, and although we saw less wildlife because of the late hour, it was another great day. There were two particularly interesting sights today: first, the difference between the left bank and the right bank through most of the paddle. Grazing is allowed on the left bank, and as a result, the shore is terribly eroded, which has killed off all of the trees and wild grasses. The right bank was an island, where grazing was not allowed, and it was lush and full of cottonwoods and grasses. The other interesting sight was a long stretch of shoreline that was held up entirely by old, abandoned cars. The cars were buried, their sides exposed along the bank of the water. Grasses and trees were growing above them, and as we paddled by, Dave was naming the makes and years of the cars. There were ’58 Fords, Chevys, old buses, and cars so rusted or buried that we couldn’t quite make out what they had been.

Finally, we pulled out about a hundred yards from our campsite, and six of us are now in the RV, typing away. I have to run off to help Cheryl with dinner but all I really want to do is go to bed as early as I can. It is supposed to be cold again tomorrow, and the trekkers face a 21-mile paddle. I’d still go with them if I could, but I don’t think I’ll get to go a fourth time. But… I’ve been lucky before… maybe I will be again.
for Thursday, September 19
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
No rest for the wicked-- Michelle Williams spends a day at the office, typing up journal entries for the trekkers

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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 19
Michelle Williams
Back on the Green River
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Tuesday, September 17
Michelle Williams
Two Days In A Canoe
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Monday, September 16
Michelle Williams
Jammie Pants and a Wood Cabin
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Saturday, September 14
Michelle Williams
Wild Horses!
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Friday, September 13
Michelle Williams
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Tuesday, September 10
Michelle Williams
Reflections, September 10, 2002
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Sunday, September 8
Michelle Williams
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Saturday, September 7
Michelle Williams
Saturday Night Near Jackson Hole
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Thursday, September 5
Michelle Williams
Yellowstone
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Wednesday, September 4
Michelle Williams
Is it Wednesday?
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Sunday, September 1
Michelle Williams
Fall In Idaho
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Saturday, August 31
Michelle Williams
Saturday Morning, Day 32
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Thursday, August 29
Michelle Williams
Hump Day
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Wednesday, August 28
Michelle Williams
A Ghost Town, A Dug-out Canoe, A Birthday and A Compound Fracture
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Monday, August 26
Michelle Williams
Oh, Happy Day
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Sunday, August 25
Michelle Williams
Sunday, August 25th
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Saturday, August 24
Michelle Williams
A Better Day Already
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Friday, August 23
Michelle Williams
A Challenging Day
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Wednesday, August 21
Michelle Williams
Wednesday, August 21
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Tuesday, August 20
Michelle Williams
Tuesday, August 20
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Monday, August 19
Michelle Williams
Monday, August 19
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Sunday, August 18
Michelle Williams
Easy Like...
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
More on Saturday, August 17th
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
Saturday, August 17th
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Thursday, August 15
Michelle Williams
Thursday, August 15th
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Wednesday, August 14
Michelle Williams
My Top Ten List
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Tuesday, August 13
Michelle Williams
Freezing and Fires
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Monday, August 12
Michelle Williams
Explore the River
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Saturday, August 10
Michelle Williams
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Friday, August 9
Michelle Williams
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Thursday, August 8
Michelle Williams
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