Mr. Mo and I had a grand adventure on Day 4 in Big Sky! The day started off perfect [i.e. everyone letting me sleep in]. :) Hooray! I had been up late trying to get my Yellowstone photos to save (which wouldn’t save) and my Yellowstone videos to upload (which wouldn’t load). Finally in utter frustration and exhaustion I went to bed! Therefore, letting me sleep in was a really good idea.
When I [finally] woke up, the sun was shining through the windows and the birds were twittering and the mountain was fresh and shiny. It was the perfect day for a hike! Daughter A was happy to rest and relax at the condo working on arts and crafts. So, Mr. Mo and I packed our lunch, water bottles and rain jackets and off we went to the Beehive Basin Trail – a family favorite we were looking forward to climbing again after 10 years.
We were surprised with how the road has been paved to the upper trailhead since we were here! Also, there are so many new McMansion Cabins dotting the hillside now…[makes me sad] :’( But, thankfully the trail was still there, and still the same simple, majestic beauty as ever! :)
The Beehive Basin trail is a Big Sky favorite. It’s a strenuous hiking trail that rises from approx 7000 ft. at base to 9500 ft at summit. It isn’t for the faint of heart. This trail could cause some serious altitude sickness for those not used to exerting themselves in higher elevations. But, this trail also reminds me of what the Alps or French Pyrenees probably look like, and the view from the top is stunning. The trail begins very green, studded with beautiful little yellow wildflowers. As we climbed higher, the oxygen level got a little thinner and our lungs began burning with the exertion.
We met up with some glaciers pretty soon, and even a small pond that definitely was not usually there (these should have been tip offs to us of what was to come…but we didn’t quite put two and two together yet).
A lovely meadow filled with wildflowers and a raging stream were beautiful to encounter. It was like being in The Sound of Music – I wanted to spin around and around and burst into song!
And then came the snow.
Piles of Real. Thick. White stuff.
At first it was just about a foot deep and we waded through it fairly easily, but it started to get deeper and deeper…and before we knew it, we were breaking through some really big drifts up to our knees and thighs.
We slogged through a long patch that really got our hearts racing. We met up with a family from Michigan under a large pine tree. We all stood there debating on what to do next. We were at the base of the final ascent to the lake and final destination – so close! - But, the snow-pack was seriously extensive and deep. None of us were prepared or equipped for attempting to climb in 5 feet of snow. The dad of this family had gone up ahead to scout things out. He hadn’t come back for a long time. Mom and teens were starting to get worried (they had both cans of bear spray and were terrified that he’d gone off alone without one of them). Well, Mr. Mo and I decided we had come too far to just turn back – so, we decided to ford ahead with our trusty “dead tree branch” poles (these makeshift walking sticks ended up saving our lives and making all the difference to our success!). We noticed that under many of the trees with southern exposures there was dirt and grass exposed, so at first we climbed from tree to tree to stay on dry land as much as possible. The trees thinned out, so we learning to walk on the top of the drift ridges by trial and error as much as possible which helped prevent “break throughs” [having a leg sink 2-4 feet down into the snowdrift] getting stuck and having to pull ourselves back up again which was REALLY hard work!
The higher up we went, the slower we got. It was seriously intense, hard work. Our heart rates were sky high and despite the cold snow, we were sweating. I made the mistake of thinking that I saw a “path” in the middle of one of the snow valleys. So, I made my way to the “path” and my leg promptly broke through and I found my entire foot, shoe, ankle and shin drenched in ice cold water! OH NO…what I had thought was a “path”, was actually a giant mountain stream underneath! I managed to extricate my leg, but from then on I had a shoe filled with cold ice-water that squished with each step. That wasn’t the first lesson I learned the hard way. As I carefully made my way across the ice field, I started to feel very proud of myself because I hadn’t broken through for a long time. I saw a large boulder to my left and got the bright idea to head over there for a rest. This is when I found out that the snow was all melted and slushier around the edges of rocks. My leg broke through. It was the same leg with the squishy watery shoe. Worse, the foot had dropped all the way down to the top of my thigh. The more I tried to pull the more wedged my leg became. Mr. Mo was on the other side of the rock about 8 feet away. He carefully began making his way over to help. Meanwhile, I realized that the rock had a little ledge at the bottom and my foot had slid under the ledge. So, now Mr. Mo could not just pull me up, or he might pull my whole shoe off (or, at least the squishy shoe would come off and then I’d be walking barefoot! In Squishy shoe vs. NO shoe I’d take squishy.
Oh, great! NOW I had visions of us having to sacrifice my foot to get me out. I would be like a snowy version of that hiker guy who had to chop his own arm off to order to get out from under a rock in the wilderness… akkk!
Utah Woman Sacrifices Foot While Hiking in Spanish Peaks
In the end, Mr. Mo was able to dig out the snow around my leg enough for me to manage to carefully pull it out and tumble onto the rock. I sat there wondering what in the world were we thinking?!? What if we got injured up here? There’s no one to even hear us scream and no cell phone coverage! The other person would have to go for help and the injured person would have to stay up here all alone…in the snow…and the cold…with a storm coming!
Hiker Trapped on Mountain Dies of Hypothermia
Lesson learned. Stay away from the rocks and the trees. Snow around them is unstable. Keep to the higher edges of the ridges. Place one foot at a time, gently at first to test the firmness, and then moving to the next step, and so forth. VERY. VERY. SLOW. GOING.
Then I saw hundreds of footprints. Paw prints to be exact. Very large paw prints! Panic ensued. My heart rate was off the charts. Oh, great! There’s a pack of wolves living up here and there’s no way we cannot outrun them!
Tourists Mauled To Death By Wolves
But, we were determined to get to the top! [And, by now we really had no choice. We were committed whether we liked it or not!] In the end, we actually made it! And, we were rewarded with the most amazing view of the Beehive Basin. The Lake itself was pretty hard to even see – being mostly covered over with snow and ice – but the basin was stunning and best of all was the stillness of the wilderness all around us. For a few brief moments we were the only two people on the top of the world…or, so it felt.
Of course, we took lots and lots of photos…or, at least we tried. We were using our camera phones, and the sun was so bright bouncing off of the snow that we were pretty much blinded, and we could not see anything on the screens of our phones. We were fairly certain the camera screen was ON, but it was anyone’s guess when we pointed and shot how the photos were really turning out.
And, thus begins the sad tale of the ultimate photo fail.
I was so excited! Mr. Mo was going to take my epic photo. I stood with the majestic Beehive Basin framed behind me and I raised my two “stick poles” in victory high over my head, and let out a happy victory whoop (which echoed all around the basin and was very cool). This was going to be the Most. Awesome. Photo. Ever. I would post it on my Instagram and Twitter, and I would make it my new Facebook profile photo!
That is what I thought.
But, this is what really happened.
Mr. Mo swears he doesn’t even know how this could happen.
I believe him. It’s a brand new phone. He’s only had it a few days, and he didn’t have time to read the manual before we left on vacation. Apparently there is a feature on the camera where you can take a photo using BOTH the front and rear facing lenses at the same time…[this exists?!?] so, you have the ability to superimpose a “selfie” onto the photo at the same time you’re taking a photo in front of you. Or, In other words, my husband managed to place a “selfie” [OF HIS HAT] over my head in MY amazing epic dance of victory photo of me standing on top of the world!
We had no way of knowing this until after we returned and the snow blindness had worn off.
OK. I have to admit, I was really disappointed and angry about the ruined photo.
We had just returned to the cabin after our epic 5 hour climb and I immediately had the idea that we would just have to march right back up there again and crawl up that snow field again so we could recreate the photo and “get it right”! Of course, by now it was pouring rain and snow on the mountain and almost dark.
The truth was that even if it wasn’t raining, and even if it wasn’t dark, there was NO way to ever recreate that moment in time again.
I sank into despair over it. It took me a good 24 hours to pull myself out of my funk over the photo fail.
Eventually, I dared looked at the photos again. And, I really looked this time. I just burst out laughing. How can you NOT laugh at that!!?! It’s so ridiculous! My dear husband even took 6 photos of me posing like this “just to be sure” he would get a good one (since he was suffering from snow blindness) – and in every single one of them he has a new selfie of part of his face or hat or shirt pasted over my head.
Every. Single. One.
And that is the sad, silly and stupid tale of my epic failed photo.
It has been interesting thinking about how I almost let a stupid photo debacle ruin my entire grand adventure and victory climb! Why would it even matter that I didn’t have my “epic victory photo”?! What matters is that I actually MADE the CLIMB!! I climbed an amazing mountain. Over 7 miles! I survived falling into cold mountain water and walking 8 miles with a squishy shoe and soaking wet socks. I survived almost [OK not really close] having my foot amputated [more like just losing my shoe...]! I learned how to walk across 5 foot snow drifts! I didn’t get attacked and eaten by wolves! . . .
I WENT SNOWSHOEING IN SNEAKERS…WITHOUT USING ANY SNOWSHOES!!!
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!!!!!
NO PHOTO in the WORLD could have captured all of that!
My adventure was meant to be LIVED & FELT in the REAL WORLD, not to be another post in the virtual world.
There’s a real lesson to ponder in all of that.
Maybe we all should try having more real-life adventures without taking any electronic devices along? No cameras. No “documenting / tweeting / posting / sharing” - just Living.
hmmm..food for thought.
Meanwhile, back to the hiking story…after all of our photo shooting and standing around enjoying the sound of silence (and a bit of wind…) and after soaking in the joy of actually making it to the Basin…we then suddenly realized two things
#1. We now have to GO BACK!
#2. A bunch of very black ominous clouds are heading this way fast…
Obviously, we made it down OK or I wouldn’t be writing this. We decided to ford a new trail using a different direction, and we made it back down SO MUCH quicker and easier than it was going up! I suppose this is partly because of gravity, but more so because we had learned so much from the difficult climbing and fording we had done [there's another life metaphor in there somewhere...]
Moral of the story: It’s good to have real life adventures. I want and need many more of them! The “Beehive Basin Climb of 2014″ is going to be legend for years to come in our house. Mr. Mo and I now share an epic memory [and epic photos! ;)] to last a lifetime.
Go do something epic! - MoSop