Thursday, July 24

Other than getting up in the night to drink some water, I've slept OK. After we get up, the others organize the van. I go to the store and buy various milk products, the consumption of which kickstarts my missing appetite and I ravenously devour a bagel with Nutella but my stomach doesn't quite feel right so I stop there.

Brandon, Ewart and Helen after descent from Teewinot
Andrew has received a call from Ewart on the FRS walkie talkie. Not only is he well, but he is already part way down the mountain! He is asking for nothing more than to be picked up at the trailhead, from where he will radio when he reaches it, but that would be an inadequate welcome, so we prepare to meet him on the trail. Unfortunately I'm still too bonked to keep up with the rapid pace, so I turn back and wait in the van (and write up yesterday's experience).

Ewart arrives with the whole entourage (including the two rangers who spent the night with him). He receives further checking out at the rescue station. While he never utters a word of complaint, it's obvious that he's been through a lot, and anyone who saw the accident yesterday can't help but be hugely impressed by the fact that he made it off the mountain. 4500ft of elevation over rough switchback trail is no picnic.

Ewart: Morning rise is at 5.30am, forced by my need to have a pee more than anything else. I no longer have any muscle spasms, and am in a position to walk, albeit slowly. Yet more 'bar' food is all that is on the menu for breakfast, which I am starting to get rather tired of, but beggers cannot be choosers. Brandon has brought up a pair of hiking poles, which really helps. I tell him that I have a hiking pole of my own which I hid amongst some rocks just a short way down the trail on the ascent, as I knew that it would be of limited use for the rest of the climb. When we get to it, the webbing and foam gripping has been completely mauled by marmots - I don't particularly care, as I never had much affinity for "hi-tech" hiking poles that either collapse unexpectedly at the most inopportune times, or fail to collapse when you want them to.

As 8.00am approaches, I radio Andrew to let him know that we are heading down, and that we have just entered the tree line - I estimate that we will be down by 10.00am. About 1,500ft above the trail-head, we meet up with Andrew, Luc, Caroline & Peter who have hiked up the trail to meet us - this was a much appreciated gesture! We arrive at the trail head around 11.00am, at which point there are some poses for photographs with Brandon & Helen before we are escorted to the ranger station at Jenny Lake to be cleaned up before I go and see the doctor at Jackson Lake Lodge.

Peter: Fairly early in the morning, we had word that Ewart was walking out! We were overjoyed. We quickly made plans to meet him on the trail. Somehow Ewart had escaped more serious injury, through the foresight of wearing a helmet and the luck of taking most of the impact on his Butt. Overall he was VERY Lucky.

After we were re-united we stopped at the ranger rescue station where the rangers further checked him out and then we went to a local clinic for further checks.

Because the rangers have been so helpful after Ewart's accident, it's decided to get them a few cases of beer as a thank you. We buy these at the Colter Bay grocery store, where I also fill up on lots of stuff from the deli counter to restore my calorie balance. At the ranger station, we intercept the first ranger we see, the very prototype of a square-jawed lawman type, and deliver the goodies, which we understand go into the pool for everyone to enjoy. "We don't normally accept this kind of thing" says the lawman type with a wink.

Ewart: All of us had been really bowled over by the support provided by the Grand Teton climbing rangers - I for one was very humbled by the whole experience. Brandon & Helen were not open to receiving any money. However, they indicated that beer would be acceptable, so we popped in at Colter Bay, bought three large boxes (at some extortionate price), and dropped them off at the ranger station in Colter Bay requesting that they be forwarded to Jenny Lake. Then followed a visit to the medical centre at Jackson Lake Lodge, our last stop before proceeding North to Glacier National Park via Old Faithful in Yellowstone.

Dr. Chuck Harris:

It is now around 1.00pm, and time to start heading north. Fortunately I am still able to travel sitting upright in the van.

The trip north commences. This takes us through Yellowstone again, right by Old Faithful, which we now stop to see.

There is an enormous parking lot, a rustic looking hotel, a restaurant with picture-window view of the geyser, gift shops, you name it, a regular tourist city. I walk around and take it all in and quite enjoy the spectacle. A huge circular seating area runs around the geyser itself at a respectful distance. The geyser at this point is just emitting wisps of steam. There are clock displays all over the area showing 4:19, which is the next predicted eruption time, plus or minus 10 minutes.

At T minus 15 minutes or so, the seating area fills up, with almost everyone toting a camera. The geyser emits a few teaser spurts of water. At pretty much the scheduled time, the eruption starts, and it is an impressive show, though it only lasts about a minute or so at full height (it continues for a couple of minutes more at lesser height).

Ye Olde Faithful

We get back on the highway amid the traffic burst of everyone else leaving the geyser show, and blocked by RVs, rubberneckers watching wildlife and a construction zone, we slowly inch or way to the west entrance. As often the case, the instant you leave the national park you are in touristville central, but only briefly before we're back in the open heading north on highway 287.

The weather now turns cloudy with occasional droplets of rain. How fortuitous! Perfect weather until the exact moment we decide to go north hundreds of kilometres and overnight in a motel anyway.

We drive north until we get to Interstate 90, the highway on which we came a lot of the way west. We continue on it through rolling grassy hills, in Montana, where there is a posted 75mph speed limit but Andrew radios back not to worry about it.

We cross the Missouri River - again - which seems odd at first glance. Then the topography gets interesting as the highway drops abruptly into the valley containing the Jefferson River, and later even more so as we pass a pullout labeled "Chain Up Area" and then start to climb to a peak altitude of 6393 feet (the height of Mount Washington, approximately) and a sign saying "Continental Divide". This is certainly a more scenic and rugged part of the Continental Divide than the barely perceptible hilltop back in Yellowstone. After this the highway drops precipitously into a wide open valley, very scenically. Down there is the city of Butte MT, and also the start of Interstate 15 to the north, which is where we're going. But first a food stop at Perkins Family Restaurant, where there is much happiness, because we're all together again in good health.

Ewart: One must understand that by this stage I have not had a proper meal in 48hrs. After limping into the restaurant and gingerly parking my arse on a chair, I realise that I am a bit far from the table. Pulling my chair up to the table would be too painful, but thankfully lateral thinking Caroline comes to the rescue and nudges the table up to me instead. The feasting can now start!

We spend some time looking for an acceptable motel, reject the Motel 6 because it is not a motel here and we need outside ground floor access to the rooms because of all the junk in our cars that we want to organize. So we end up at an older, partly renovated, non-franchise motel which is actually fine, everyone sleeps well and in the morning we completely clean out the vehicles and organize all our stuff, which at least to me is therapeutic.

All pictures for this day

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