Monday, October 15, 2007
As we continue to bounce between winter and Indian Summer here in Driggs, I see analagous transitions all around me.
Long-standing Teton Valley ranching and farming vocations are fading, transitioning to a new recreation-based economy. When we arrived in 1995, the local scene was all about those traditional pursuits; school was even stopped for a week so the kids could work the potato harvest. Today, kids and faculty still get "Spud Week," but most of them use it for vacations. Cattle drives are still seen, but are viewed with nostalgia.
In those same twelve years, I've seen the local equine scene transition from an every-man pursuit to a more privileged activity. The younger generations now use ATV's to get around on the farms and backroads. Joanne frequently comments, sadly, on how her circle of riding friends has dwindled. Horses require daily work and feeding; ATV's usually don't. Plus, horses require open space, which is disappearing by the day.
I find myself nodding more and more respectfully to the so-called "old timers" when I see them around town, or pass them on the few remaining stretches of Teton Valley rural roads. I simply can't imagine the scope of change they've witnessed in their lifetimes here, it's gotta be staggering.
When we moved to the valley, there was an unnamed and very faint horse trail that snaked back into the Big Hole mountains, just west of Pine Creek Pass. In 1996, Joanne and her friend Celia started calling it "Spooky Trail," because it often felt sort of creepy along the way (that spookiness was verified a few years later, when I encountered a mountain lion about a mile from the trailhead...and confirmed again later when I was surrounded by five Great Pyrenees sheep dogs and thought my days had ended). The trail was eventually adopted by the Forest Service, and is now called "Spooky Trail" on official maps. Pretty cool.
From those lonely and spooky beginnings, to how the trailhead looked today. To be fair, our trails are always more crowded during hunting season, which is in full swing at the moment. Nonetheless, this scene was further evidence of the transitions that come with growth. And, apparently, if you name it...they will come.
Perhaps the most abrupt transition of the week was experienced by our dog Bridger. At 7 months and 77 lbs., he graduated from the ranks of "young stud" to "it." To keep him from removing his own stitches, he was a conehead for a couple of days, which he took as a mere bump in the road. Can't say I would have handled it that well ;-) He's already game for new adventures, more worry-free than ever.