The 20-mile hike to the top of Mt. Holmes and back had its ups and downs, both physically and emotionally. It was freezing cold when we got up at 4:30 that morning. At the start of the hike, I was wearing a wool hat, long pants, and all my layers of fleece and polypro. My fingers were numb from the chill. By mid-morning, the sun was blazing hot and the mosquitoes were biting. As we gained in altitude, the temperature dropped again and breathing grew more difficult.
Emily, SNK’s intrepid reporter, stops for a moment at the edge of a glacier field on the slopes of Mt. Holmes in Yellowstone National Park.
A mile or two from the top, the trail dead-ended right into this glacier field. We searched around and around. Finally, we just walked up the steep ridge, one slow step at a time, hoping we were going in the right direction. Eventually, we did bump into the rocky trail again, which took us to the summit and George Henley.
The hike back down was more straightforward. We knew where we were going, and we had fun talking about George most of the way. After 10 hours of hiking, though, our bodies were exhausted. We ran out of water. My feet were killing me. With about 1 mile to go, we ran right into a pack of wild bison. Neither of us wanted to walk any farther than we had to, so we held our breaths and tiptoed right past the massive creatures. I tried not to make eye contact, especially with the Mama bison who was guarding her baby.
Twenty minutes later, we were safely back in the parking lot. I have never been so happy to see a car in my entire life. We drove straight to some natural hot springs at the north end of the park. As the hot water soothed our weary muscles, and later over an enormous dinner, we reflected on what a great day it had been. Then, we went back to camp and slept for a long, long time.