This is another post on the Wiggins Fork rock collecting area north of Dubois Wyoming. All the previous posts can be seen in order on our website at https://thegemshop.com/…/n…/wiggins-fork-rams-horn-a-history.
Wiggins Fork seems to have a particular attraction for rockhound families. Perhaps that is because there are so many recreational activities or pursuits possible here. If you are not interested in collecting rocks you can fish, hike, photograph, hunt for waterfalls, backpack, or just read a book beside the campfire. I have seen many family gatherings other than ourselves as well as larger group gatherings take place in the area. (See story by Larry French and his brother Dan French, in the comments and replies on the post Wiggins Fork Sept. 21, 2017).
My parents accompanied my wife and I and our two daughters to Double Cabin Campground many times. Brothers, and sisters from both sides of the family often arranged their vacations to be in the area at the same time. Cousins who see each other only once a year were everywhere. Groups of family members would plan trips into the wilderness to see hidden waterfalls on the side Creeks that flow into Frontier Creek. Younger kids would build forts in the woods near Camp. More experienced hikers would plan backpacking trips to Snow Lake, Six-Mile Creek, or Green Lake. (Very few people on earth have seen or felt the cold waters of Snow Lake. It is on top of the mountains between Frontier and Wiggins creeks at 11,400ft in elevation.) All of this activity is centered around the rock collecting hobby.
My father was a fisherman. It did not matter if he was trolling for northerns, waiting in an anchored boat until 1 a.m. in the morning for the croppies to start biting, or sneaking up on trout in a fast-moving mountain stream - he loved fishing. He tried to interest me in the sport by taking me on several fishing adventures but when he accidentally got me bitten by the rock collecting bug at age 12, it was all over for me. All I wanted to do was hunt rocks. Rocks and fish made there way to camp and our family experienced many fresh trout meals cooked over the campfire at Double Cabin Campground. One year in particular we had fresh trout for breakfast every morning.
After my father died it was decided to place some of his ashes at Gordon's Cave, high above Burnt Creek. This was the cave that he and my daughter found loaded with Agate limb casts. (see previous post). Some of my father's ashes were placed on a rock in front of Gordon's cave in the summer after his death.
Every year since, the snow that melts in the spring at Gordon's cave takes a few of my father's ashes and flows over the cliff and down into Burnt Creek. The waters of Burn Creek flow into Wiggins Creek less than a mile away. Wiggins Creek enters the Wind River about 6 miles below Dubois Wyoming. The Wind River moves both fast and slow through Wyoming until it cascades down one of the most beautiful drivable canyons in the West. At the bottom of the canyon it mixes with the hot waters of Thermopolis. Here the name of the river changes and it becomes the Bighorn River. The Bighorn River works its way north into Montana and flows into the Yellowstone River. These waters flow over all those Montana agates and eventually enter the Missouri River in North Dakota. The Missouri River crosses North Dakota, South Dakota, separates Nebraska from Iowa, crosses Missouri, and joins the Mississippi River at St. Louis. These waters join waters that have come from as far away as Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and together they flow into the Gulf of Mexico and the ocean itself.
Part of my father will see all the fish in these rivers and then be able to explore the ocean as well.
This past summer a hike was organized to the first waterfall at 9 Falls Creek. Some of our group had never been there and it is the tallest waterfall in the area. I should say that 9 Falls Creek is not an official name. There is no name given to this Creek on the Snow Lake Topographical Map. I had been told by several hunters many years ago that there were nine waterfalls on this Creek before you arrived in the mountain valley below the mountain peaks to the West. So this Creek is known to us and several others as 9 Falls Creek. The creek is about a two-mile hike up Frontier Creek and is the second drainage up river from the campground that flows into Frontier Creek from the West. It is almost a mile from Frontier Creek up 9 Falls Creek to the waterfall. By the way, petrified wood can be found in this creek but it is quite rare.
Upon arriving at the waterfall and enjoying its Splendor someone in our group noticed a small object on the large Rock in the creek just below the waterfall. This rock has the position of being the center of many photographs of people with the waterfall in the background. Inscribed on the small object were the following words:
“ Greetings Grammy from the mountains above double Cabin, Wyoming. Have the piece of nature. Love Holly.”
Another tribute to a deceased person in a beautiful place. If two completely independent and unknown families can create memorials to past loved ones in the same area, I wonder how many others have done the same.
I do not know who Holly is, or if her grandmother was a rockhound, or if Holly is a rockhound. I do know that the rock collecting area known as Wiggins Fork has an enduring effect on the people who collect there. I also know that Holly would not have known of this place if she or someone in her family was not a rock collector. There are no trails, no signs, or directions on how to find this place. It is completely invisible to anyone hiking, backpacking, or riding horses on the cut Trails of Frontier Creek.
When the time came for us to leave and start our return trip to Double Cabin Campground we said a little prayer for Holly's grandmother and left the tiny memorial where we found it. I hope that Holly is able to read this one day and know that other complete strangers also wish the “Peace of nature” for her grandmother.