Driving, driving, and more driving across Wyoming. Wyoming really is kind of the way you’d think: lots of wide open spaces, lots of cattle grazing. Mountains rising in the distance. Next destination: Grand Teton National Park.
The Grand Tetons truly were amazing, rising up in the distance. I kept thinking, and saying, “Wow. They look like Expedition Everest at Disney,” even as I realized that it was rather idiotic to compare a man-made ride to some of God’s majestic creation.
An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. ~Henry David Thoreau
So we parked at Jenny Lake, one of the large lakes in the park. My husband suggested we hike around part of the lake, about 2 or 3 miles. It was cool, and beautiful, and this sounded okay.
Pause for a bit of backstory here: the previous night, I wandered out of bed in the dark of night for a nocturnal bathroom visit. I can’t help it; it’s a legacy of having three children. Anyway, in my unfamiliarity with the hotel room layout, I lost my direction in the bathroom doorway and took a tumble INTO THE BATHTUB, UNCEREMONIOUSLY WHACKING MY BACK ON THE SPOUT AND THEN THE SOAP TRAY. Owwww! As I scurried to get myself up and out in the darkness, my first thought was not to wake anyone up. My second was that I sure hoped I was not hurt. I could not afford to be out of commission this early on a vacation! So, I was pretty sore, but headed back to bed.
The next morning, I was still pretty darn sore, especially my side and back. I popped a Motrin and soldiered on.
I’ll have to say that it was beautiful, at first. Each break in the trees would reveal a vista prettier than the one before — the clear blue lake mirroring the mountains covered with trees and snow, the beautiful sky.
About this time, my husband announced that we might as well just hike around the entire lake. It was “only” 7 miles. We didn’t have anything else to do.
We passed some people. Others passed us. I noticed that there is a definite “look” to the kind of folks who frequent national parks. They’re not your typical WalMart crowd. No, they’re often a little older, and they’re … fit. They wear LLBean-type clothes. They carry walking poles. They wear Indiana Jones hats. They are chipper. They wear backpacks with packets of trail mix and bottles of water.
They are not, actually, like me.
We kept walking.
We passed by a group of these happy hikers, taking a break to munch on almonds or something. We kept on hiking.
It is not easy to walk alone in the country without musing upon something. ~Charles Dickens
Hiking, especially hiking several miles, provides plenty of time for thought. And “think” I did. I realized some things about myself. I realized that I am a person who enjoys nature, but in limited quantities. I don’t think I will ever be that senior who enjoys hiking through Alaska or sleeping in a tent.
I realized that, while I enjoy the beautiful scenery and viewing new places, I really do have a limit for the number of times I want to see a vista of the same lake through tree branches. I think that limit is something around 57. Or possibly 63, on a good day.
I realized that the Motrin was wearing off, and this scared me, because my back and side were really starting to hurt again. I was okay though, right? I mean, I was able to get up out of the tub and I had already walked several miles today. Then again, there were those scary internal injuries that you can’t see. That’s actually how Princess Diana died! She looked okay after her car crash, but the internal injuries killed her. I didn’t even want to think what was going on in my insides, but they weren’t feeling too great.
About six miles in, nature played a cruel joke. Just when I thought we’d be starting to see signs of a welcome center, we came across a sign. A detour sign.
This detour took us away from the beautiful lake and tree-covered trail. Now, we were hiking up along the mountains. It was rocky. It was hot. It was dusty. It was long, long, long, and it felt like I was stuck in some never-ending circle of Dante’s Inferno.
In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
We walked a couple more miles. Still no visitor’s center. Finally, we reached a map. And it looked like — wait for it — we were on THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE LAKE FROM WHERE WE PARKED.
At this point, I did something I rarely do. I totally lost it, right out there on the nature trail.
“I CAN’T STAND IT!” I screamed. “WE’RE NEVER GOING TO GET BACK TO THE WELCOME CENTER! WE HAVE ALREADY HIKED LIKE NINE MILES AND MY BACK HURTS AND I’M HOT AND THIS IS NOT FUN AND ORIGINALLY THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO ONLY BE TWO OR THREE MILES AND I’M SICK OF IT!”
Wow. That was unusual. For me. My husband, annoyed, yelled out my name twice, followed by “Calm down!” My older two girls looked at each other with raised eyes and kept walking. My youngest came up, linked arms with me, and we … kept walking. There was really nothing else to do.
Finally, at some point in the day, we got back to our starting place. It had been a memorable day — that’s for sure.
He who limps is still walking. ~Stanislaw J. Lec