The day dawned crisp and clear as I met Kathryn and Lee at the Gros Ventre Junction. Lee and I had pulled in to carpool with Kathryn over to Dubois, WY for the day, and Kathryn let us know with excitement that she had just seen a pair of moose. Combined with the early morning alpenglow on the Tetons, we knew we were in for a special day.
A few hours later, after a coffee stop in Dubois, we headed up the Torrey Creek drainage, an open valley carved by glaciers with three stunning lakes in a chain – Torrey, Ring, and Trail Lakes. When we arrived at the Ring Lake Ranch, one of two private properties in this drainage protected by the Land Trust’s Wind River Program, we were greeted by Ben Verheul, the ranch manager for this stunning 414-acre retreat center.
Ben’s enthusiasm for the Ring Lake Ranch was infectious. We were enthralled by stories of the ranch’s wildlife, especially of the old mountain lion that liked to frequent the property. We learned that Ben is an artist as well, specializing in carving wood. Art at the Ring Lake Ranch is its oldest tradition, going back as far as several thousands of years, with graphic petroglyphs etched by the Mountain Shoshone into the rock faces near the lake shore.
Lee and Kathryn were captivated by the Ring Lake Ranch petroglyphs, but the sun was on the rise and the best light of the day was slipping away. They went and scouted their locations and got right to work, with Lee settling on a rocky alcove right in the thick of the petroglyphs, and Kathryn setting up shop along the shores of Trail Lake, with a beautiful view up toward the peaks of the Wind River range.
After a few hours, it was time to make the drive back over Togwotee Pass and back home to Jackson. First, though, we enjoyed a picnic lunch with Ben, his wife Amanda, and their children Clayton and Dayla. We got to hear the story of how they met, and what they love about living on the ranch. The lake water sparkled, fish rose, and mergansers dove, and we felt once again lucky to be a part of View22 – at another magical location, meeting wonderful people that know a piece of land deeply and steward it for future generations.