BOWEN COLUMN: There are no small things – LaGrange Daily News

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BOWEN COLUMN: There are no small things

Posted at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, August 19, 2022

Jhere really no small things. I learned that lesson again on Monday. Here on our second day a ‘little’ thing happened out of the blue which was the highlight of the trip.

Todd and I slept a little on Monday due to the difficult Sunday hike, not having arrived at the campground until 11:15 p.m. travel notes. That tells you a bit about our exhaustion both during the hike and after reaching camp. You put all your energy into battling the terrain – the hills, the swampy paths, crossing all the rivers – and you soak it all in your body and mind. Then when you go home, you reflect and tell the story. Funny thing most come right back like you’re still walking this trail.

We left the campground around 10am and walked for a good eight hours, maybe until 7pm. This trip was a clockwise hike around Heart Lake, although Heart Lake itself was far, far below us and far from us, not to be seen for four days. Last year we went counter-clockwise (well, and a bit in circles too, as you remember). After almost a mile out of the campground to the trailhead, the first site was a deep creek or river that I remembered from the last day a year ago. Then things really started to come back.

This Monday was the same rise as the last day of last year, in reverse order – which is significant. We crossed that deep creek, past the campground where we stayed with the Idaho cowboys; and as we crossed the creek we saw the Teton Mountains looming in the west with the sun reflecting off them. It was one of the key memories I had of last year as we started the last day of a journey that I believe will always be unmatched. But there is more: we also passed by the very place where I had my tete-a-tete with my Grizzly. I made a short video of this place, wishing I could put a monument there, because you all know the impact of it. Then we ended up at the campsite that Todd and I found after being lost for a few days. It was a big meeting, in a way. The bad news is that – due to recent flooding from Yellowstone to the north – mosquitoes were rampant, more here than any other place.

So when we arrived I took my backpack and went to the river beach and dumped everything because mosquitoes don’t like running water. Every morning and every evening required an hour of packing or unpacking. When I arrived at this special place – which was a landing with rocks and fallen trees as the Snake River split and advanced about a hundred feet before meeting again – I sat for a while in the cold water of this fast-flowing stream in this section of the tributary which bends sharply to the right before joining the rest of the river.

Of course, I remembered the very special moment when I reflected on this very place last year. It was the morning after we found our way, and while Todd was working a hundred feet at the campsite, I had a “time” in the water. It was here, where the river splits and then rejoins, that the Lord and I had a little conference. After a while, I had to leave the water and the memories and get dressed to go to bed there, by the river. I left all the wet clothes hanging at the base of an uprooted tree to dry overnight. Then I joined Todd in trying to get some well deserved rest. This Monday’s hike – about 7.1 miles and much of it uphill – was one of the toughest days we would have. The truth is, he was a killer. But we did.

There’s one more thing I wanted to tell you. At some point around noon we stopped for some sort of rest at the top of the hill overlooking the Heart River. For some reason, Todd stopped long before me. We rested for, maybe ten or fifteen minutes, then I got up, put on my backpack and decided to take a picture of the river flowing majestically below. After taking it, I looked up and saw, to my amazement, a black bear crossing the river. I picked up my phone and tried to take the picture, but it was gone. Disappointed, I thought I might have gotten it unknowingly from the few pictures I took before seeing it. And, of course, there it was: two photos captured the young bear, one as it was about halfway down the river, and one as it approached the shore. I still smile at that. Oh no, it wasn’t the one-on-one from a year ago not far away. But it was a pleasant moment, a moment of inner well-being, even if that may seem like a small thing. And I remembered then, again, that really, in hiking and in life, there are no small things. Especially when it comes to seeing a bear in the wild. Still.

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