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… and the deer and the antelope play

Catching up here at Fuel Walk with a story from day three walking Wyoming coal country.

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Walking Coal Country. 3 of 7 // This Antelope was gone long before I came along. Down in a ditch, ten or twelve feet off of County Road 37 – the "Antelope Coal Mine Road" it's also called – I had to stand and wonder. Had it been there for six months? Six years? Unlikely, given a bit of the hide still attached. Anyway, that was on my first day walking, and since it's pretty much been me and the antelope. I'm traveling a road that weaves between two huge open-pit mines – the Antelope Coal Mine, operated by Cloud Peak Energy, and the North Antelope Rochelle Mine, operated by Peabody Energy. Traffic to and from moves fast and in bursts between shifts. None stopped and I marched along, stick in hand. During my first two days, I didn't speak to a single person. // This morning, as I started walking from a pasture for a 15-mile day, I heard what sounded like a quick bark, or a cough, over my right shoulder. A hundred yards away an antelope stood and stared at me. I told him that I didn't even know he was there, and I complimented him on his antlers. He bolted, body holding steady above the ground as his legs pinwheeled in a clip at once fast and awkward. // There are several other coal mines north and south, and they eat up the earth pretty thoroughly, with wanderers like me and the antelope restricted to certain roadways. Yesterday, as I followed CR 37 between two pits, another antelope ran ahead, stopping every few hundred feet to look back at me. We were in a narrow corridor. After ten or fifteen minutes, a pasture opened to the west. The antelope crossed the road but stopped in the left lane to look at me one last time. Then he leapt the barb wire fence in what I think must have been an easy jump. // Before I left camp this morning, I heard a honking overhead. A lone Canada Goose, the first I'd seen in Wyoming, made a wide arc over the pasture where I'd slept. He circled once, then twice, his honk loud and unrelenting. In a way, we both were lost, me down below, him up above, in this place long dominated by machines. #travel #walking #wyoming #coal #instaessay

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