Every summer New York Actress Hope Williams packs up her city belongings and takes off for her Deer Creek ranch in the Absaroka Range of the Wyoming Rockies. There, in a friendly way ("I only take friends and friends of friends"), she runs a dude ranch. Her guests include the Lunts, Tallulah Bankhead and former Air Secretary Harold Talbott.
Behind the ranch 4 million acres of virgin territory have been officially designated wilderness and it is here, amid rugged mountain passes and lush forests, where the 20th century is prohibited by law, that Miss Williams stages the highlight event of Deer Creek ranch life—a pack trip. For 16 days guests pack into the back country on horseback to camp and fish for trout in privately stocked streams and to rough it in a very smooth way. Four to six guests, accompanied by a guide-wrangler and a cook, usually make up the party which camps out in two-man tents furnished with collapsible heating stoves, tables, chairs and beds and eider-down sleeping bags. Miss Williams supplies steaks, hams, fresh trout and, in season, roasts of venison and even bear to assuage the hearty appetites of tired but happy guests. One of them, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Toni Frissell, captured the beauty and moods of this memorable jaunt in the photographs and words on the following pages.
Into the mountains the pack string threads its careful way along the south fork of the Shoshone River. Though the going isn't fast, trails are well marked and maintained by the Forest Service, making it quite safe to penetrate the roughest country.
As the climb steepens, the going gets rougher and the ponies have to step easy. On one side the mountain rises vertically, on the other it falls away to the valley and Shoshone River below. Guide Art Holman leads the string, followed by Amanda Duffy.
August 12, 1956
A good rest comes at the end of the first day in the enchanted meadow 7,500 feet up. Around camp this place is better known as Moose Bog because the moose stand around looking at you at night. Relaxing around the campfire enjoying a cup of hot coffee are (left to right) Amanda Duffy, Mrs. and Mr. John Sturgis, Nicky Hawes, Guide Frankie Lasater and Deirdre Howard.
Those who want to rough it can wash up in ice-cold mountain streams, but most, like John Sturgis and Amanda Duffy below, prefer to use bowl of heated water perched on logs.
Bonnet for Miss Mouse, the horse, is made by Nicky Hawes from profusion of mountain flowers—wild pink and blue lupine, buttercups and others—which carpet all the meadows.
For the angler there are meadow streams which are well stocked by the state with plenty of eastern brook trout. Mrs. John Sturgis, braving the threatening rain, can't resist the lure of trying to catch one from the fast-running waters of Bliss Creek.
A campfire lunch in the rain follows the good fishing, and here Deirdre Howard, wearing a man-size slicker and an old weather-beaten hat adorned with her favorite fishing flies, goes about the serious business of cleaning and preparing a freshly caught trout.
Day's beginning is at 6 a.m., when the wranglers round up the horses and bring them in. Most of the time it is an easy task, but occasionally the horses wander. They are not hobbled in this country. The lead horse wears a bell so that he can be found easily.
Day's end finds the campers tired but happy. They have eaten a good meal and now, as night falls and the sun's last rays reach out and touch the peaks of Hard Luck Mountain behind them, only the fascination of the fire keeps them from their sleeping bags.