Where Are They? Where Are We? A Day of Lost Ways
After a quick decision to do a key exchange instead of taking the time to shuttle cars, the question of the day became "Where are they?" on both sides of the exchange.
The day started at 8 a.m. as we headed toward Augusta for a hike along the Rocky Mountain Front. The day was hovering around 10 degrees with wind, so we did battle keeping warm all day, with wind chills at zero degrees.
Nora went with the group that started on the Willow Creek side while Katie, June and Jaye headed up the trail from Beaver Basin. The Beaver Basin group discovered the road closed two miles from the trail head, so they knew that hike would be at least 8 miles instead of the anticipated six. They had a chuckle thinking the other group wasn't going to know about the extra two miles until the end of the hike, and the hike would be all uphill that direction on tired feet.
The Beaver Basin group hiked uphill most of the way after the road, stopping briefly to take a picture of Hidden Lake with Fairview Mountain in the backround; however, the wind kept the group moving to keep warm. The trails seemed marked well, but the direction seemed off and we didn't see the other group by noon, which made us wonder if we were on the same trail. Both groups kept hiking until 1 p.m., both having to route-find as the trails were not obvious among the outfitter- and cattle-made trails. At this point, the Beaver Basin group decided to turn around, not knowing if they were on the right trail. Two of the Willow Creek group turned around, knowing that they had the key to the car on that end.
After much worry about what happened to each other, all turned out. The four in the Beaver group left messages in the snow on their backtrack to the car and finally heard voices behind them to discover the two Willow group members who had soldiered on.
So six walked the last two miles to the car for a total of nine miles on the day. On hte way out, we saw a variety of tracks including grizzlie, coyote, possibly wolf and a small cat. We expected the two others to have driven the car around but we found just the one car. So we piled six into a Subaru Outback with Jaye being game to ride in the back, sitting on poles and crammed up against backpacks. The rest of us took some gear in our laps as we headed to the Willow creek parking area.
Just before we reached the parking area, we came across Nora driving toward us. She and her hiking partner had gotten lost on the way out and he had fallen on the ice covering a stream and hurt his elbow.
All in all, no one was seriously injured and we all did the right thing. Nora said going in her direction was very, very windy and she got chilled. Katie, June and Jaye were glad to have turned around, not having to face a stiff wind in the face.
We arrived home around 6 p.m. The next day, those with a GPS uploaded the routes. We discovered we were only a few hundred feet apart when we decided to turn around. Both groups were yodeling and calling out, the wind too strong to hear it.