Brigadoon Arch

YS-NP 2005-3760-Edit

There are many mysteries in the mountains here in the west but none so intriguing and compelling as this one. It has always seemed strange to me that the horse tribes had such a short history. I don’t mean that they weren’t living on the plains and mountains for hundreds of years but that their glory days, when they had horses and rode proud and free, clothed in leather, carrying lances and bows, fighting with their enemies and living as Kings on this land seemed to be a very short time. That time of their life only seemed to last for decades, a very brief time that was captured by only a few artists, photographers and the memories of their people. Where did that spirit go? It has only been in the recent past that a small numbers of stories, legends if you will, began to emerge. They were always greeted with skepticism if not outright derision whenever they were told. Maybe because you only heard them in the bars and honky-tonks late in the evening and told by those who had had a few too many. The fact that they appeared to believe them with every fiber of their being, did little to keep them from being so easily discounted. The legend of course, is the story of Brigadoon arch.

The way it has been told is that every hundred years or so the Arch appears in the mountains just north of Jackson Hole not far from where their present day airport is located. The exact time it appears is not known nor is it known how long it is open, but when it is, there is the possibility that you, if you were brave enough, could hike up to it and pass through, and there you would find the lost horse tribes living as they always have, in their lodges made of buffalo skins, with their favorite ponies tied out front and the smoke from their campfires slowly spiraling up into the crisp morning air. There are occasionally, unexplained sightings of a string of lights winding down the mountainside late at night, torches perhaps, as some of the young braves trek down to the plains for a last buffalo hunt. One person told me, swearing it on an oath that can not be repeated here and sealed with a shot, that after seeing the lights one night he found pony tracks leading down to the river and nearby a dropped beaded pouch like the ones carried by Arapahoe Dog Soldiers when they were out raiding. Inside it, he said, was a freshly taken scalp barely cured. When asked if the pouch could be seen now he told me sadly that he had lost it in a poker game. It almost made him quit drinking he said, tearing up some, and he was no longer able to speak of it.

Think what you will, I for one, believe that there are things we can’t explain, things that will always remain a mystery. The arch wasn’t there the last time I went through so if you want to find out for yourself I guess you will just have to wait until the arch appears again and go and see for yourself. If it does appear and you are brave enough to enter I would brush up on my Lakota if I were you.