My childhood was filled with adventure and some of my most memorable experiences took place on fishing trips to the Wind River Indian Reservation in the mountains of Wyoming. This is where my Grandfather, William Butler helped to organize an annual pack trip that would introduce hundreds of Men and eventually Women and Children to the pristine wilderness over the course of two decades. The memories of Wind River are made even more special as they are shared with my parents, sisters and some of my closest friends.
At Wind River, I learned to ride a horse over mountain passes and across streams just as the Mountain Man Jim Bridger did when he explored the home of the Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe Indians. The days at Wind River were spent fishing from sun up until sundown. Dozens of low elevation lakes surrounded the camp and the native brook trout were plentiful. One day, each summer, a group would organize a one-day expedition to timberline, pressing on to the upper lakes in search of gigantic Cutthroat Trout. These upper lakes ran in a chain, each one spilling itself out through waterfalls to the one below.
I have often considered going back to this special place. Even after so many years, I find that the essence of Wind River finds its way to my canvas when I paint. While painting “Triple Wonderful”, I found myself asking if places like this really exist and it is because of Wind River that I know that they do. My good friend Andy, who was there with me in the seventies, returns each summer on a solitary week-long walkabout, touching and feeling the country that made such an impression on him as a kid. Perhaps I’ll tag along with him one of these summers.