FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: Cold dip in Basin Creek
Welcome, all, to the “front-porch.”
A chronicle of Day 3 of our 2022 Yellowstone excursion: Tuesday, July 12
A rugged thirty-five mile journey such as this always has its bitter-sweet parts.
You are well aware of the bitter, I am sure – at least, most of it.
One bitter pill we had to swallow was the we used up most of our “bullets” the first two days.
Todd and I had both trained hard to be ready this time. Todd would do these six-or-seven-mile hikes on the weekends. I did hiking, swimming, dribbling/shooting baskets for an hour, yoga – name it, I tried it.
But I was also rehabbing my lower back since November.
As a result, my left hip and lower back were an issue the entire trip. That was an issue we did not have a year ago.
However, while the hip bothered me constantly, it held up very well and never became anything more than a nagging issue.
Even Todd felt the rigor of the first two days, and he is an excellent and experienced hiker.
His backpack of almost fifty pounds, along with the extremely hard first day and night’s hike, took a toll on him. It was the first time in two summers I had seen him weaken beneath the load.
I don’t remember if it was Monday, the second day, or this Tuesday that we stopped for a break and made a decision.
It was one that, I am sure, made all the difference.
We decided we would cut out what we felt were some unnecessary miles.
We would reduce the hike from fifty-one miles to about thirty-five.
It was a good decision, and it could have been what allowed us to walk out injury free, again. I really don’t know if my body would have held up well to an additional eighteen grueling miles.
I’ll admit that, reluctantly, even though the body has proven me wrong before.
The greatest danger hiking deep in a wilderness to me always was pulling a muscle. I’ll say again what I told the amazin’ blonde when I called her on that Thursday evening after we came out: I don’t know how the body can take that much pounding and beating, at any age. The Lord certainly gave us the strength. One prayer I prayed every morning and night as Todd and I looked to the Lord was strength for the journey – both the physical one and the spiritual one. The Lord sure answers prayer.
But there was also a “sweetness” that came along on this Tuesday.
The best parts to me, as you know, were the crossing of the rivers. On Monday and Tuesday we must have crossed a dozen rivers, most of them fast and fairly deep, layered with a bed of loose rocks. But you could always see the bottom. We never had to wonder where we were stepping, but we had to be careful not to slip or not to let the current knock us down and take us down river.
I guess I don’t have to tell you, necessarily, that I never crossed a river without thinking that the same man the rivers I crossed each time were different rivers than they were before when we crossed them – and we were different people.
That thought, while a theme for our previous book, never got far from my mind as we crossed over these same rivers. Because we were traveling in reverse order, the rivers of Monday and most of Tuesday were rivers we had crossed in that infamous but miraculous journey of a year ago.
The “sweetness” we are talking about came on that Tuesday afternoon.
We arrived at the campsite at about 2:30 p.m., since we had only a four-mile hike. It was not an easy four miles – no miles ever are, really, out there – and we had to make sure we found the right trail, too. At one point Todd had to study his map very carefully where we crossed over a couple of river.
But Todd was up for the occasion and got us to the right trail. We made the campsite, wearily, that early afternoon; but after settling in, we walked down to the Basin Creek, which is a tributary off of Heart River. I took a dip in it for almost half an hour, just letting the freezing cold water massage my sore muscles.
Todd didn’t brave the river that way, but he did step in and wash his face and wait for me to finish. He would not leave me in the river alone. Plus, we had a steep hill to climb to get back up; and he wanted to make sure I got up it without any trouble.
Todd – following the order of both of our wives – would not venture far from me for anything. So, I made Todd wait a little while as I soaked in the cold, cold creek. But, looking back, the bath in the river, cold as she was, was one of the highlights of the trip. The water, in fact, was not as cold as I remembered. Maybe the “Cryotherapy” I’d been doing for eight months conditioned me a bit more for the cold of the water.
After a while, to make sure I did not let my body get too cold, I got out of that fast-moving river and walked with Todd up the hill back to the camp site. We got into the tent by about 7 p.m., hoping to get about twelve hours of sleep.
During this trip, one constant that became clear was that we would not do a great deal of talking – at least, until that third night. We really did not have the energy, and we had to keep our focus on the trail.
But that night we lay in the tent and talked spiritual things and life for about an hour. That was a great blessing on this trip – that, and the fact we had made it safely through three days and could now let our bodies and minds rest.
That night another sweet blessing came: A full moon shone right through our tent; and, for a good while, it was almost as bright as day.