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Beartooths Backpack 2002
The Best Laid Plans...

Yellowstone ain't half bad!

After a breakfast of pastries (from Maxwells two blocks down the street) and coffee and juice, and a bit of crutch training for Sue as to how to go up and down steps (I have had a lot of practice), we packed up and left Sue in the motel room, with her assurances that she would be very careful taking a bath. As we headed out of town for Yellowstone, we stopped in the Sierra Trading Post Outlet store and the Wal-Mart, where we ran into Mary Ann from the KbarZ, who had driven to Cody to visit the Dentist (you do what you have to). By the time we got to the border of Yellowstone, it had started to rain, and by the time we got into what turned out to be the last available cabin in Lake Village, it was really pouring. I remarked that the cabin was pretty small, but as Susie said, "Hey, it is bigger than our tent!" We spent the afternoon in our rain gear looking at thermal features, and the evening looking for wildlife in Hayden Valley. The next morning, we took a short hike along the Yellowstone River canyon rim before heading back to Bozeman.

Andy and Lance had taken a while to pack up on Thursday afternoon, and made it to the outlet of Lake Elaine before stopping for the evening (they could tell, even without maps - although the Chicago couple had let them take one of their topos - that there would be no place to camp until they got down to Granite Lake. Friday, for some reason I have yet to determine, they headed for the Clay Butte trailhead, rather than Muddy Creek. It was pretty miserable weather, with heavy rain. They got to the Clay Butte road, which was nearly 2 miles from the Beartooth Highway, and about another 3.5 miles from there to the Muddy Creek trailhead. Fortunately, about halfway down the Clay Butte road, a nice school teacher picked them up and drove them to Lance's van. From there, they found their way to the KbarZ ranch, and then headed south to Cody to get Sue. They spend Saturday morning driving through Yellowstone on the way back to Bozeman.

Meanwhile, Tim and Diane were holding down the fort at the KBarZ Ranch. They enjoyed their first night so much, they ended up spending Friday night there too. They enjoyed fishing in the rain, since they get very little of such in Tucson. We all converged on our cabin at the Alpine Lodge in Bozeman by late afternoon, and there seemed to be plenty of wine to go around. Diane, our defacto social coordinator, arranged with the owner of the Baxter Hotel on Main Street to have a wonderful but low key and quiet dinner in the bar area of the hotel. She told him what Sue's situation was, and he was happy to accommodate us. After dinner, he gave us a pep talk about how great Bozeman was. Of course, Susie and I did not need much convincing.

There were hugs all around, as Andy, Sue, and Lance needed to go to their motel in Belgrade near the airport, as they were taking the o-dark-thirty flight home. Susie and I were leaving at 1 pm the next day, and T&D not until 4 pm. We killed some time in the morning with breakfast in a nice coffee shop on Main Street after a jog, and we took T&D on a tour of some of the places we are looking to think about building on in Bozeman. Everyone had an uneventful flight home, and early the next week, Sue went to the high power sports medicine clinic in Austin, where more careful xrays revealed two broken bones in the ankle and some ligament damage. However, no surgery was indicated during the healing process, and as I write this seven weeks after the end of the trip, Sue - sans crutches - along with Andy, Tim and Diane, are on their way to the Fifth International Skin Cancer Conference in Japan . Not surprisingly, Sue and Andy have altered their plans to spend a week afterward hiking in the Japanese Alps. You can only be so tough.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 2002