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Pinedale Online > News > June 2008 > Visit to the Rainbow Camp

Rainbow Camp Map. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Rainbow Camp Map
Unofficial map showing approximate location of the Rainbow Camp in the Big Sandy/Dutch Joe area, based on our observations. Map by Pinedale Online!

Evening Circle. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Evening Circle
The Evening Circle in the main meadow includes group messages, meditation and dinner.

Kiddie Village Ovens. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Kiddie Village Ovens
Water is being boiled to purify while bread is being baked in ovens for dinner at Kiddie Village. The entire cooking complex is raised off the forest floor using logs and rocks.

Spring Water. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Spring Water
Thousands of feet of 3/4-inch water lines have been run throughout the Rainbow camp from nearby springs to provide unfiltered water.

Large Fire Circle. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Large Fire Circle
This fire pit will be reclaimed after the Rainbow gathering.
Visit to the Rainbow Camp
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
June 30, 2008

We spent all day Saturday at the Rainbow camp walking around and talking with people. Here are notes and observations from the day:

- Cops BLM and Forest Service law enforcement are out in full force. Their presence is very visible on the main road going in. However, we didn’t notice one uniformed law enforcement officer in the Rainbow camp all day. Incidents we were told about were mostly minor: dogs not on a leash; traffic infractions; disorderly conduct; wearing Forest Service issue clothing; drugs (marijuana and LSD); camping beyond 14-day limit; resource violations. A special "Rainbow Court" is being held in Farson to process these tickets.

- Traffic Traffic is getting very congested. We have no idea how they will fit all the cars that are coming if the BLM doesn’t allow parking on the dry meadows near the forest boundary.

- Area Closure in effect for Big Sandy Opening The Forest Service put an area closure into effect on Friday, June 27 for the entire Big Sandy Opening area about ¼ mile above the Rainbow camp. The Campground, Trailhead and Big Sandy Lodge are all open and accessible. Lamreaux Meadows and the upper Big Sandy meadows are closed to camping. This order is in effect until rescinded.

- Trails into camp There is a Rainbow welcome "booth" set up on the main road coming into the area. They can tell you which trail they recommend you take for your needs and also make suggestions about where to camp most of the way to the Big Sandy campground. There are three entrances into the camp. Wear good walking shoes for the trail coming in. There are people who are willing to help carry loads on the trail.
Trail 1 - "Handicapped parking" Expect a decent hike (2-3 miles) with some ‘Ups" to get in, but not too bad. The first entrance to camp is for handicap parking. This trail is supposed to be gentler, but longer.
Trail 2 – "Bus Village" The second entrance, "Bus Village," has more room for parking cars, but is filling up fast. This trail is scenic but has one short stretch that is pretty steep. Take it slow and you should be ok. We saw people taking carts full of stuff over it, which must have been a bit hard, but they made it work. This middle entrance will put you right next to Kiddie Village without going through other people’s camps.
Trail 3 - The Back Door: The third and final "back door" entrance is supposed to be more gentle, but muddier trail. Parking is very limited and awkward in that location.

- Dentists wanted We spoke with people manning CALM (Center for Alternative Living Medicine), one of the Rainbow medical camps providing holistic health care to those attending Rainbow gatherings. They treat many minor health issues. Anything really serious is sent to the area medical clinics or hospitals. Geoff told us they are very much are in need of dental expertise more this year than they have seen in earlier years. He said someone with "Peace Corps type dental experience" would be very helpful at this year's gathering to help these people. Geoff told us about the challenges of providing health care to the Rainbow people. Apparently most don’t have health insurance and some won’t go to a doctor. For some of these people, the annual Rainbow gathering is the only place all year where they have the opportunity to get medical attention. There is a new program some medical professionals are doing to try to take health care services to this high risk population. Click here to read an article about it which appeared in the Charlotte Observer about the challenges of providing health care to the Rainbows.

- Nude people? Yes, both girls and guys.

- Taking pictures As we walked through the camp we had multiple people caution us to be sure to ask first before taking close-up pictures of anyone. For group shots, people were given the option to turn their backs or step out of the photo before the picture was taken.

Photos by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!

UPDATE: Click on this link to read a follow-up story to see what the Rainbow Camp looked like upon inspection two months later to decide for yourself the short and long-term impact of this large group's presence upon the landscape: Did the Rainbows clean up their camp?" By Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online, August 25, 2008 (49 pictures). Click here for the Rainbow Camp Clean-up Crew’s :2008 Clean-up report (PDF, with explanation text and before/after photos)

Related Links
  • Researchers seek health aid for Rainbow youth - By Vickie Smith, The Charlotte Observer, June 24, 2008
  • MISSING: Garrett Bardin - (Pinedale Online, Frequently updated with news and information of the search progress
  • Search continues for Garrett Bardin - (Pinedale Online, June 30, 2008) Update
  • Sheriff’s son still missing; truck found - (By Alecia Warren, Pinedale Roundup, June 26, 2008)
  • Big Sandy Lodge

  • Welcome Committee. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Welcome Committee
    A Rainbow Welcome Committee is stationed on the road into Big Sandy. They stop all non-local traffic to give directions and answer any questions.

    Front Door Parking. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Front Door Parking
    There is only one road in and out of the Big Sandy area. The first Rainbow parking lot is just inside the Forest boundary fence. This lot is marked as being for handicap parking. There is no parking on the BLM ground south of the fence. Law enforcement officers are stationed at near this parking area.

    Sensitive Area - No Parking. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Sensitive Area - No Parking
    The Forest Service and BLM have placed signs along the road to designate No Parking areas. Rainbows have added their own signs with comments modifying the government signs. This one says, "Save the frogs!"

    Forest Service Rangers. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Forest Service Rangers
    Law enforcement officers search a vehicle at the Forest boundary. Law enforcement is strictly enforcing all regulations. Law enforcement officers from BLM, Forest Service, Sublette County Sheriff's Office, K-9 dog units, and (we're pretty sure) undercover officers are patrolling the Rainbow gathering.

    Front Door Parking. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Front Door Parking
    1st Parking Lot, right at the Forest boundary. This lot is supposed to be for handicap parking. The main parking areas and trail access into the Rainbow camp are several miles further up the road.

    Bus Village. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Bus Village
    The second parking lot is at Bus Village. The 1-mile hike is the shortest of the three, but has a steep climb. It is a very scenic hike through the forest, passing by multiple little lilly ponds along the way. Kids and anyone not in the best of shape can still use this trail with the hill, just take it slow and rest often. The experience of this pretty trail is worth the effort.

    Back Door Parking. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Back Door Parking
    The third, and last parking lot, is at Sedgewick Meadows Road and FS Road 855. Parking is on hilly slopes. The walk in is longer and the trail is a bit muddier.

    Road 855. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Road 855
    Road 855 is the "back door" trail into the Rainbow camp from the third parking lot.

    Middle Trail. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Middle Trail
    The trail has been well cleared and is marked with plastic bags tied in the tree limbs above. These bags also serve as places to deposit any litter. The Rainbows pride themselves on everyone doing their part to pick up any litter they find and keeping the forest clean.

    Pond by trail. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Pond by trail
    The middle trail to the Rainbow camp goes past many little ponds like this. The walk through the forest is very scenic and has interesting things to look at. Crews have cleared the trails of rocks and debris all the way in. Expect a one to three mile hike, depending on which trail you take in. If you're bringing a wagon, it will be a bit challenging in places, but Do-Able.

    Rainbow Family. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Rainbow Family
    One of many colorful banners within the Rainbow encampment. This one is located near the Information Station and main meadow.

    Karin Zirk. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Karin Zirk
    Karin is a popular rainbow blogger and was helping at the information booth.

    Information Tent. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Information Tent
    Rainbow Information tent at the main meadow. There is a bulletin board here where people can post messages. They also call this station "Rumor Control".

    Lost & Found Board. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Lost & Found Board
    People can post messages for others on this bulletin board.

    Recycle Bags. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Recycle Bags
    There were many stations like this throughout the Rainbow camp for depositing recyclable items.

    Circus. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    "Circus Maximus" is a self-appointed fire marshall. He hails from Seattle, Washington. He was very friendly and helpful. The Rainbow behind him was given the opportunity to not be in the picture when this photo was taken. He purposely chose to be in the picture and to be very rude for the camera.

    Circus Maximus. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Circus Maximus
    Circus: Here's a better photo of you to send to your friends and family. Thank you for letting us take your picture.

    Food Line at Kiddie Village. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Food Line at Kiddie Village
    At least 11 differnt kitchens have been set up throughout the Rainbow camp and all the food is free. Some ask for firewood contributions. The cooks in this kitchen pride themselves on a well-rounded meal choice.

    Dinner. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Meal at Kiddie Village this evening included salad, fresh home-made bread, and beans.

    Fresh Baked Bread. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Fresh Baked Bread
    "Flower", on the right, cuts home-made bread that has just come out of the oven at the Kiddie Village kitchen. Recipe is white bread topped with Basil and sesame seeds. Flower is part of a Rainbow group that goes around the country to disaster-striken areas in their specially-outfitted bus kitchen and they provide free food services to victims. For more on their efforts, Google "New Waveland Cafe".

    Camp Signs. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Camp Signs
    Improvised signs are all over giving directions to various camps. Trails have been constructed through the forest to keep traffic on designated trails.

    Juggler's Glen. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Juggler's Glen
    This gal is learning how to walk on a tightrope.

    Camp Trails. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Camp Trails
    Trails have been cleared within the camp area to lead to the various group areas. Deadfall from the forest has been placed along the sides of the trail to mark the route and keep people on the trail to minimize spread of the traffic impact. When the area is reclaimed, the logs and debris will be spread naturally across the landscape to erase the presence of the trails and make the forest floor look natural again.

    Lovin Ovens. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Lovin Ovens
    The Lovin' Ovens is one of the many free kitchens set up in the area. this one was very elaborate and a very creative effort. The ovens can be accessed from both sides.

    Lovin Ovens. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Lovin Ovens
    Another view showing the elaborate set up for the Lovin' Ovens kitchen. Firewood is neatly cut and stacked for use to keep the fires going for the ovens.

    Medical Tent. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Medical Tent
    Tent for the "Montana Medics." There are several medical stations throughout the Rainbow camp. These are staffed with a combination of professional medical personnel and helpers who are familliar with holitic healing techniques. Patients who have really serious emergencies are taken to medical treatment facilities in nearby towns.

    CALM Medical Camp. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    CALM Medical Camp
    CALM stands for the Rainbow Family Center for Alternative Living Medicine. This is one of several medical treatment camps throughout the Rainbow gathering area. For some Rainbows, this is the only medical attention they will receive all year long. The rest of the year many are on the street and homeless, with little or no money, and definitely no medical insurance to pay for any medical treatment they need. This year, Rainbow Geoff told us they are treating a lot more dental problems. They hope some Dentists will be coming for the Gathering and be willing to help out with some of the needs this year. These tents are placed in locations where there are "healing vortexes".

    Infected Ankle. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Infected Ankle
    CALM Nurse Practicioner Jane treats a girl from Hawaii who has an infected ankle. Many of the Rainbows walk barefoot around the camp. Common minor injuries include stubbed toes and minor cuts and abrasions. Medical treatment is free in the Rainbow camp. Each of these camps have people who generously donate supplies, money, time and expertise to help supply these medical stations at the Rainbow gatherings every year. For some of these people, this is the only medical attention they will receive all year. Check out our Related Links above for an interesting article in the Charlotte Observer that talks about the challenge of providing medical treatment to the homeless and those who have no money, no medical insurance, and who do not want to be found all the rest of the year.

    Diner at Evening Circle. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Diner at Evening Circle
    At mealtime, one of the Rainbows climbs onto a large boulder and uses a horn to call the Family to the main meadow for dinner. Cooks from each of the kitchens bring food to the center of the circle. Everyone in the circle holds hands and a blessing of sorts is given. Children, their parents and pregnant women get to be served first to receive food. After they are served, everyone else may get in line.

    Wash, Rinse, Disinfect. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Wash, Rinse, Disinfect
    There are stations like this near each kitchen to wash plates and utensils.

    Directions to Bathroom. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Directions to Bathroom
    The sign doesn't mince words. The Rainbows don't worry too much about being politically correct. What you see is what you get.

    Protected Area. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Protected Area
    Some areas within the camp have been taped off with yellow ribbon to keep people off to protect fragile resources.

    Big Sandy Trailhead. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Big Sandy Trailhead
    Big Sandy Trailhead was quiet when we visited on Saturday, June 28th, with just eight cars in the lot. There was no one camping or using the nearby campground (out of sight and to the left in this photo). The trail into the wilderness goes from the covered sign in this photo and to the right and behind the photographer. Hikers can only go a couple of miles in before encountering snow still in the very high country.

    Big Sandy Openning. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Big Sandy Openning
    Big Samdy Openning was very quiet. This area is part of the closure which was implemented on June 27 by the Forest Service to protect resources. The FS doesn't want the Rainbow gathering to overflow into these wet meadows. Big Sandy Lodge and the wilderness campground and trailhead are just a little ways down the road in the distance in this photo. Elevation is around 9,000 feet here. This is also part of the area where the Boy Scouts have project work to do this summer.

    Old Buck Fence. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Old Buck Fence
    This is one of the old, fallen-down buck fences in the Big Sandy Opening area that is scheduled to be removed by the Boy Scouts this summer.

    Big Sandy Loge. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Big Sandy Loge
    The gate into Big Sandy Logde is closed to reduce the 4-wheeler traffic from non-guests. The owners commented that business has actually been very lively with people booking to be close to the Rainbow gathering. The owners have not had any problems or incidents to date with the presence of the Rainbows.

    Fire Danger Low. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Fire Danger Low
    The Forest Service maintains a sign in the area letting people know what the current fire danger is. It is LOW at this time.

    BLM Rangers. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    BLM Rangers
    BLM Law Enforcement officers are regularly patrolling the area for public safety. They are making everyone follow the rules to the letter. This stricter law enforcement standard is being applied to all public using the area around the Rainbow camp.

    Road Construction. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Road Construction
    There is some road construction going on along the back roads that lead to the Big Sandy area. The general area of the camp is in the mountains way in the distance behind this road grader.

    Big Sandy Openning Road. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Big Sandy Openning Road
    This is the final intersection on the maze of roads leading to the Big Sandy Opening. This is actually a "T" intersection. Depending on how you come in, you'll either continue straight on or turn left here. (Follow arrows on sign as applicable). This intersection is also where the Lander Cut-off of the Oregon Trail crosses the road. If you are into history, look for the white cement trail marker in the grass off to the left at this intersection. The trail crosses from right to left as people in the 1800s would have travelled through here. Anyone traveling in from the left road would have already passed over the Lander Cut-off a couple of times already on the road coming in to get to this point.

    No Parking. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    No Parking
    Signs have been posted on the road into the gathering area to keep the road from getting blocked with park cars.

    Free or Roadblock?. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Free or Roadblock?
    Message from the locals? We passed these two recliners sitting out at the end of a ranch driveway along the main road going on the way to the Big Sandy area. We weren't sure if they were intended to block the driveway, or were being offered up as free-for-the-taking seating for anyone who might be passing by. There were no notes attached to the chairs. Whatever the intent, they were still sitting there many hours later when we returned from our visit to the Rainbow camp. No doubt hundreds of cars passed by during the day as the steady stream of people flow in for the Rainbow gathering.
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