Last week I had three days with no walkers on the WTW. I had seen it coming so Penny decided to go for it and hike over the Divide. We made it inn-to-inn by hiking over on the North Inlet and hiking back the next day on the Tonahutu. That’s the way I like to do it.
We got to the trail at 5:30 and began the gradual climb up Flattop. It was all new for Penny which was fun for me. As we made the summit we walked into a thick wintry cloud. I had told Penny to bring gloves which she did but couldn’t imagine that she would use them. I told her to put them on, but she didn’t and her hands froze. At one point I had to re-tie her boots. Rule #1- do what Phebe says.
As we headed across the tundra I knew the clouds would lift. It was just a matter of time. Then all of a sudden it was like the beginning of a show. I could see a slight shade of blue, then more, then it began to lift revealing it’s awe and wonder. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
We switch-backed down into the trees with thick green meadows, rushing torrents, an elk sitting with his huge rack on the hillside and fields full of wildflowers.
Then the long, long way out began. I have to admit that about mile 14 I was tired. Not tired from the hike, but tired from work. It was in my eyes. I could have gone to sleep while walking.
We got into Grand Lake and headed for our simple motel which I really liked. We each had our own room so I had plenty of space- something needed when you work a lot with the public. Had one of the best showers ever then headed for dinner. I ordered a big mexican combination plate. Didn’t eat it all, but made a good dent.
Penny had a callous on one of her feet which was giving her problems. I was tired. What about going back? Long, even longer than today and that trip down Flattop, my least favorite portion of trail of the whole trip. Could we do it? Did we have a choice? Would someone come get us?
Penny called the Bible Study Group at our church who were meeting and asked them to pray for her foot.
I didn’t sleep well, a bit worried that she wouldn’t want to let me down and really, we needed to be smart.
Fell hard asleep about midnight and woke up to a wondrous day.
Knock, knock. She was ready. Foot was fine.
We packed up and headed for the cafe that opens at 6 a.m. Lattes, breakfast bagels and an egg platter were awesome and a fun way to start the day. We then headed out of town.
A cool mist was rising as we headed for the Tonahutu, the longer of the two trails, but maybe my favorite especially in the morning. We were deep in conversation about things that matter. This is what happens when two people hike on a long trail. The Tonahutu might be longer, but it’s gentler and easy on the feet. It pulls you along gradually, making you stop and savor it’s meadows and streams.
As we neared the beginning of the rise to the tundra the weather was iffy. It would be a long way across with no where to hide. We stopped for 90 minutes above a waterfall and let the thunder do its thing. Was better to arrive safety late at night than not to arrive at all.
Then we continued to the Big Horn Flats and on to Flattop.
The trip down started out ok then I hit the usual wall, wanting to done. I know every turn on this trail and at this point going down, it wasn’t fun anymore. Just get me to the car.
I think one of my favorite memories of this trip will be the email from Penny the next day. It said something like, “I WANNA GO BACK.”