FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: The rainbow
Welcome, all, to the “front-porch.”
A chronicle of Day 4 of our 2022 Yellowstone excursion: Wednesday, July 13
Finally, we made it – no, not out of the wilderness but around the final loop around Heart Lake, which sat a great distance down below us well out of view.
On this Wednesday, day four, Todd and I would travel a hard, rugged seven miles across the edge of the mountain, much of it very hilly.
It was the hardest terrain we’d covered since Monday. I mentioned the side of the mountain. I failed to say earlier that, on Tuesday, we had to crawl along the side of the mountain just as we did last year, just in reverse order. That section from both this year's and last's is the most dangerous section we would travel. It was about a quarter of a mile on the edge with no room for error. It was not the place to slip, as there is an eighty-foot drop. I suppose there is a lesson there in walking ‘circumspectly’ and carefully, keeping your eye firmly on each step without worry about the journey ahead.
Our plan today was to go past our scheduled camp site and get closer to the Rangers’ cabin, the spot where you turn back up to climb the mountain out of the wilderness. About a mile before we made it to our campsite, we stopped to rest at a beautiful stream, flowing down from the melting snow on the mountain. We rested there for a good while. I put my feet in the cold water to enjoy its massaging of my tired feet and ankles.
Before I got up to put my shoes back on, Todd asked if I would fill his water bottles back up in the cold, clear stream, since you have to get your feet wet to get to the best water, the water flowing white over the black rocks.
I have to rely on memory to write all the details of this year’s hike because I didn’t take notes at all. It just didn’t seem to be enough time or energy. I remember, though, that every day, except for Tuesday, was at least eight or nine hours long.
We would start pretty early this Wednesday after having some good rest the night before. I believe we reached our campsite around six p.m., our last campsite of the trip. Ironically, it was the same campsite where we started our journey last year. To make it the more nostalgic, it was the campsite where our friend Roy revealed his turned ankle and Todd and I had to leave Roy and Randy behind to return to the Trailhead.
Being there brought back some real memories, for sure. I could see Roy sitting on the same log that lay in the heart of the campsite and telling me just how badly his ankle hurt after that first evening’s hike. And I could see him sitting on the edge of the Heart Lake at dawn the next morning, watching the sunrise over Mt. Sheridan, dreading to tell us that he would not be able to go on. The Lord, I know, was in all of this, but it was a tough moment. It is still hard to believe Roy was unable to go again this year.
But here at this moment is one of the highlights of the journey: When Todd and I made it to the camp, the mosquitos were the worst they had been, except, perhaps, on Monday evening at the campsite where we found our way after being lost a year ago. The mosquitos were so bad that we prayed for some relief. They would swarm you so badly that you could not even unpack your bag or even think of changing clothes in peace.
Todd and I had both planned to walk the fifty-feet down to the Heart River to bathe that evening. Todd made it to the water as I began unpacking my bag, trying to get everything ready to go down and do the lake. Of course, the whole time I was fisticuffing with the mosquitos. But then an answer to prayer came: a thunderstorm blew in. It had rained a little that afternoon on us, and it started raining again. It was not a downpour, so I was able to continue unpacking and getting my clothes ready to go down to the lake.
I made it to the lake as the rain continued to come down; and by that time Todd had finished washing up and was getting ready to finish his own chores. The tent was already set up, so he had to cook his supper. I just ate cold food each night while he always boiled some water to fix a stew or something. He always offered me some; but I was just eating to live by that point.
I made it down to the lake and put my dry clothes under a tree that was protected from the rain, then went in the cold lake to wash up. The lake water was not nearly as cold as the Basin Creek; but I didn’t go too far in because Todd had warned me about the lightning. I was glad that I was able to get in and out of the lake and change clothes under that tree without interference from the mosquitos. The rain had driven them away almost completely while both Todd and I were able to get clean and dressed and ready to ‘hit the tent.’
I ate my last chicken salad I had brought, at Todd bequest. He had told me I needed to eat more. While he fixed his meal, I told him I was going to hit the tent. As I made it to the edge, I looked out to the west toward the mountain, and there I saw one of the highlights of the trip: a bright rainbow, curving across the evening sky. I couldn’t help but smile at that. My camera was inside the tent staying dry from the rain; so, after I climbed in the tent I asked Todd if he could take a picture of it. It was the last picture of the day and, perhaps, the best.
I don’t know how you think, but I could not help but think of how the Lord gave us a great blessing that night. The rain came down to drive away those relentless mosquitos; but it didn’t come down so hard to keep us from doing everything we needed to do. My shirt was not so damp I couldn’t keep it on once I got to the tent. I rested awhile; and pretty soon Todd finished his supper and all he had to do, and he joined me in the tent. We had a big day coming up – 9.1 miles up that mountain – so we got into the tent by 7:30 p.m. Still, as we had done the night before, we lay there and talked about life and the scriptures for a good while that night.
It would be a peaceful night because, if we didn’t already know it, we understood again that the Lord had been with us all along. We had a rainbow up in the wilderness sky to remind us.