Can’t let Bighorn’s Trail Intimidate

“Wanna stop?”  Eddie asks looking at me gleefully from the driver’s seat. His childlike abandon is usually inspiring but today I just stare back at him thinking, “doesn’t he remember that we just packed up our Yellowstone campsite in the pouring rain?” or that we just spent a week not sleeping well from fear of bear attacks? I quickly remind myself that these random roadside stops are part of our plan, a major point of this road trip.  Breaking my stare I turn to the backseat and ask the kids what they think. Dante is all for it, hand on his seat belt ready to release. Joslin is more hesitant,  “It looks too steep,  isn’t it too dangerous? What about our dog Totoro.” Echoing the thoughts I had running through my mind.

Eddie and I glance  back over to the ominous yet beautiful Mountain/Hill in the Bighorn National Forest and spot a small family making the same trek we are now pondering. The mother and father lead the way while their young son trails them. Eddie pulls the car over at the next pull out and makes a cliff-side u-turn. Being married for 13 years I can easily guess Eddie’s thoughts.

… CHALLENGE ACCEPTED…

The landscape reminds me of a Hayao Miyazaki film. A hill so high you have to tip your head all the way back to see the top – if the top wasn’t hidden behind clouds. Soft green grass that flows with the pattern of the wind, a sprinkle of pine trees here and there and a narrow, winding, pale-colored path beckoning you to see what is waiting behind those clouds. It is breathtaking!

I am still hesitant, but grab our all-weather jackets, two bulging handfuls of protein bars, several apples and six bottles of water. I make sure to bring the dog’s blue collapsible water dish, and biodegradable waste bags.  I gear up and slowly meander to the posted signage, secretly hoping that it says we cannot take this trail. Why else would there be a large six-foot fence blocking the tiny pathway up? The sign says nothing about the trail, and gives me no concrete information on whether this is a good idea or not.

I look up from this useless sign and notice Joslin standing to my right, Eddie and Dante have already hit the trail. I guess we’re doing this.

The sky is filled with clouds that are varied shades of gray and a storm lingers far in the distance. The air is crisp and cool, I’m guessing it’s in the low 50’s and I am freezing! I pull the dog’s leash close, encourage my daughter to take her first step, and up we go.  After 20 steps I am drenched in sweat, heart pounding inside my chest, this is an arduous trail!

I take several breaks to “take a picture,” which really means – catch my breath. There are several types of wildflowers that add a bright splash of color behind boulders or fallen trees. The beauty and views are really astounding. I turn around to observe how far I have climbed, I am shocked to see the VW Jetta that we drove here looks like an ant. We are so high!

We reach the point where the trail seems to turn from pathway to rock climb, we decide not to go any further.  We find a comfortable spot to hang for a few minutes, replenish with our snacks, and take in what nature is showing us in this moment. I take slow lingering breaths, fresh air.

The trip down is even more memorable…views..views..views! Eddie and Dante jog down the bumpy route and are making friends with traveling partners, a man from Australia and a woman from Japan. I smile and am reminded that I almost missed this, I almost didn’t gain this experience.

Note to self :  Remember to just try,  experience life and  “open every door”

Bighorn’s Steamboat Point Trail #630. Kids ready for the challenge. This trail’s steep path gains height quickly. Our car looks like an ant down there. Random wild flowers A challenging trail that’s also breathtaking.

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