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Oh, What an Adventure! Sun Jul 31, 2005 11:32 pm

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Joined: 22 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:39 pm    Post subject: Oh, What an Adventure! Sun Jul 31, 2005 11:32 pm Reply with quote

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Chad Carlton from the Black Water Guest Ranch picked us up and let us stay at his parents' ranch last night. Chad also had Crystal, one of the ranch workers, get us some wonderful buffet food for dinner. The Carltons' hospitality, combined with good food and interesting people, made last night a very pleasurable experience.

After a great breakfast, Chad drove us to the east gate of Yellowstone. When we got there, the rangers told us our entrance fee had been paid by people we had met earlier in the week. The rangers were friendly and answered our questions about the campsite we hoped to reach at the end of the day.

When Brandon and I were just a couple of miles down the road, a highway safety worker stopped us. He informed us of a huge construction project up ahead that would make it impossible to go forward on foot. The highway worker offered us a ride through the construction. Since we have made it this far on foot, we really did not want to bend our rule of walking/running the entire way across the U.S. At that point Brandon and I had a difference of opinion as to how we should proceed. After discussing the situation, we decided to head back to the east gate to talk to the rangers about our options. The rangers were sympathetic to our plight and were very helpful trying to find a solution for us. Possible solutions included:

1) Taking an alternate route. They explained that if we took an alternate road route, we would be forced to walk an extra 200 miles. We rejected that option.
2) Hiking up a 30-mile trail. The rangers were willing to take our stroller and drop it off at the nearby ranger station down the road. We also rejected this option.
3) Walking through the construction area by gaining special permission from the federal highway department. Eventually a high ranking official turned down the rangers' request to let us walk through the construction zone. The federal official said the request involved an insurance risk that he was not willing to take. He turned down what was probably our best option.
4) Finally, the only remaining option: Walking across the old Cody Road, now called the Silvan Pass Trail. The Cody Road had its heyday around 1919, as it was the original road through Yellowstone. The road was taken out in 1950, and its name changed to the Silvan Pass Trail. The Trail has been closed for quite some time. We realized the stroller wouldn't make it through this trail. The highway guy was nice enough to offer to take our stroller through the construction and have it waiting for us when we finished walking through the trail. This option would get us just past the construction area and allow us to continue afterwards on our planned route. This seemed like a good idea at the time, and we chose to walk across the Silvan Pass Trail.
Having made our decision, we got some last minute advice from the rangers. One of the rangers then took us back to where we had stopped walking earlier. With snack food, a camera, and our camelbacks filled with water, we set off on the Silvan Pass Trail.
We hadn't gone very far down the trail when it appeared to end and turn into meadow and then swamp. We trudged forward looking for remnants of the path. At the same time, the elevation was going up. Now we were walking on a very steep slope. This area had previously been blasted as part of the construction process. To make things even more fun, loose gravel and rocks were rapidly falling away from our footsteps. (We believe the path may have been hidden underneath these tons of rocks.) We made our way VERY slowly - keeping the road under construction to our right (north) and the river far below to our left (south). By this time there was no path to be seen, but we continued trying to make our way west. We had to keep going up and down this steep slope. Going up and down was like rock surfing.

Now, don't tell anyone - especially the federal government - but twice we came to the road under construction and ran down it. When the lead car in the construction zone got close, we dove behind a bush. Then, the second time we ran on the road, we could see the end of the construction coming up and scurried up the hill to try to find the path once again so that we would come out just beyond the end of the construction. Of course, we had to descend toward the highway from the Silvan Pass Trail. This was down a torturously difficult slope to once again find the path. We held on to branches as we slipped and slid down the hills.

When we got to the end of the construction, the highway worker had our stroller waiting for us. Our detour started around 12:30 p.m. and ended with retrieving the stroller at 4:00. At that point we had only traveled five or six miles of our planned route.

I have titled this post "Oh, What an Adventure!" only because Robert Frost has claim to "The Road Not Taken."

After retrieving our stroller, we were on our merry way. We continued walking until a few miles down the road where several cars were stopped. When we got there, we saw a grizzly bear on the road. The bear was on the opposite side of the road, with cars between us and him. We got some great camera footage. After we walked past the bear, the bear made a move towards us. However, I assumed I was okay as long as I could outrun Brandon. I figured he couldn't eat both of us at once!

After we said goodbye to Mr. Grizzly, we pushed it into speed walking mode as we needed a safe camping area and already were five hours behind. Brandon and I walked fast and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, including hot springs and sulphur vents.

Our plan was to get to Fishing Bridge General Store and decide what to do next when we got there. Shortly before 9 p.m. we were just a mile from the general store when a ranger pulled up. He told us the store closed at 9 p.m. So, we sprinted there as quickly as possible. We got some food, which was the first meal since breakfast. We forgot our worries for those 10 minutes it took us to eat.

We were sitting outside the general store when it closed (actually at 9:30 p.m.); we still had no idea what to do next. It was dark by this time, we still weren't at the campsite, and the RV park had no vacancies. Brandon's suggestion was to beg the rangers for help since the rangers knew all about us and had already been quite helpful. One of the rangers we had talked to earlier was Ranger Credit. Ranger Credit graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids and later taught at a Christian school in Michigan. Ranger Credit was one of the first people who had previously heard of Brandon's college, Cornerstone. Anyways, as we talked to him he said, "You guys want me to bail you out, right?" Oh, how right he was. After checking with his superior, Officer Credit let us into a warming hut - which is basically a small log building. We have permission to spend the night here in this warming hut. Besides being a warm, dry place, we don't think Mr. Grizzly can come in for a midnight snack.

That was our day. We only walked about 30 miles - 26 on our route - but they were hard-earned miles.
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