Western Wild

Dave Showalter's Conservation Photography Weblog

From The Vault, Wyoming

Night Witness

March 24, 2014 | 2 Comments

milky way, upper hoback river

Hoback Milky Way : Prints Available

The Milky Way over forest in the Upper Hoback River Valley on a typically clear night in northwest Wyoming. The Upper Hoback was leased for industrial scale natural gas drilling - the grassroots opposition group Citizens For The Wyoming Range won an important victory when The Trust For Public Land purchased the leases and retired them forever. The land has been returned to the American people, forever wild. 

Lately I’ve been writing for Sage Spirit and getting caught up in reflecting back on ephemeral moments, small details along a six year journey. A running theme is dark and quiet – wild places actually become dark and quiet at night and it’s a wonderful way to gauge wildness. There are fewer of these places all the time. While photographing an assignment in the Upper Hoback for Trust For Public Land last summer, I watched the sky turn blue-black and the Milky Way emerge as absolute darkness took late lingering summer light. Planning to get some sleep, this night sky would have none of that, captivating me for a few images, then a few more. There was no moon to interfere with the brilliance of stars or the Milky Way, just a line of pine trees silhouetted across the bottom of the frame. We’ve seen what happens to places like this when drilling comes – this special place escaped the drill and will remain blissfully dark and quiet, wild. Let bears, wolves, and mountain lions own the night.

2 Comments

  • This is a well written post. It reminded me of those times when camping with my dad and being amazed at all those stars. They always had more stars in the mountains than in my town. I like how you said this, “… wild places actually become dark and quiet at night and it’s a wonderful way to gauge wildness. There are fewer of these places all the time.” Unfortunately there are fewer places for us to truly be in the wild.

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