A Day at Vedauwoo

Darrow Leading Crack at VedauwooCertain places on earth are like turnstiles in our lives, personal vortexes we pass through on the way from one chapter to the next. Vedauwoo (pronounced “vee-da-voo”) is one such place for me. A magical collection of rocky outcrops, trees, and alpine meadows, Vedauwoo is situated just off Interstate 80 in the Medicine Bow National Forest between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming. Its name is based on the Arapaho word meaning “earth-born,” reminding us we all are.

Following Eds Crack

Long ago I stopped at Vedauwoo for the first time, as a college student, a young man, on the way from one adventure to the next. A decade and a half later I was there to camp for a stormy night, a new father with a young family. Five years after that, I camped alone during a solo journey from one side of the country to the other. Another decade passed, and I joined an old friend there for mountain biking, under golden aspens on a crisp Fall day.

High at Vedauwoo

And I was in Vedauwoo again this summer for a day of climbing with Caroline and college pal Ken Driese, who contributed the photos seen here. We climbed a classic 2-pitch crack and then danced around on some mercifully-shaded bolted face climbs. The scenery was stunning, though the summer heat was oppressive, even at 9,000 feet. (The huge smoke plume visible over my shoulder is the start of the High Park fire, which burned for nearly three weeks in June and destroyed more than 87,000 acres and 250 homes west of Fort Collins, Colorado.)

I hope to be back in Vedauwoo before another decade passes, or another fire burns. It’s a fragile gem, reminding us of the changes in our lives and on our planet.

Note: When he’s not enlightening students at the University of Wyoming on the finer points of remote sensing, Ken Driese can be found prowling remote corners of the planet with his camera. He specializes in documentary photography for non-profits, and his amazing images of people, places, and things speak for themselves. More of Ken’s beautiful work can be seen at The Booby Hatcher and Ken Driese Photography.