One of our favorite places on the entire planet is Casper Mountain. A lot of people do not know this, but it is very diverse, with everything from sprawling meadows to caves to deep canyons with beautiful creeks. My family has had a cabin up there since about 1980, and I have explored just about every square inch of the canyon on which our cabin sits.
Each summer the boys explore a little bit more of the mountain with Gina and I. We already got to show them the fault line at the top of the canyon with Leif and Io, and yesterday we stayed the night up there and got to see some more amazing sites.
One place the boys have been interested in visiting is Bear Trap Meadow. When we got there, Nate asked where all of the bears were. I laughed because I had this same thought when I was his age. I guess both of us were hoping to see a meadow filled with bears caught in traps, and finding out that it is really just a big grassy field was a little anticlimactic. Even with the disappointment, we had a fun time walking around and testing out all the swings at each picnic shelter.
Our next stop was Ponderosa Park, which was totally destroyed by a forest fire in 2012. I had not been to this part of the mountain in many years, and the last time I was there was on my mountain bike. I had forgotten how far it is from Bear Trap Meadow to Ponderosa Park, which made me wonder how in the world I used to make this trek on a mountain bike (13 miles round trip, with a killer 2 mile climb coming out of Ponderosa Canyon). The entire area looked like something out of the Hunger Games, with charred trees and picnic structures all around. There is new growth starting to emerge from the fire damage, and it creates quite a beautiful contrast. This part of the mountain is characterized by sandstone formations and a breathtaking view of Medicine Bow National Forest. We will definitely make another trip there in a year or so to see if any of the picnic structures have been rebuilt.
I have included several photos below. There are also some photos of the Great River Raft Race on the Platte River, which - let's just be honest - is just an excuse to drink beer on a raft in the river at 9 o'clock in the morning.