Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Journey 4.0: Day 5

The most wonderful meal of tostadas with fresh salsa is settling itself inside my very happy tummy this night. My sister-in-law may just be the best cook I know. Not only were the tostadas marvelous, but her homemade Spanish rice is amazing.

The meal was a great way to cap a busy, active day. After breakfast, Maria, Matt, and I went out and walked the trail that runs along the Big Horn River here. It’s a beautiful walk, and it was a beautiful morning for it. What a way to work off a breakfast of biscuits, sausage gravy, and scrambled eggs! Then after lunch, we headed for Devil’s Kitchen to hike. We covered a lot of ground there, some of it more vertical than horizontal. I did a fair amount of climbing, getting as far as I could before discretion became the better part of valor. Matt did a lot of climbing and exploring. At one point, I spotted a notch in the rock formations that make up one side of the rim, and I said it looked for all the world like we could climb up to it and see what was on the other side. And that’s what we did — except that Matt was able to climb through the notch and continue on the other side. I could pull myself up enough to see over, but the vertical was too much for me to scale and get over. So I went back down, and Maria and I met Matt at the other end of the rock formation.

Two years ago, when I was here with my brother Paul, we had spied a cave, and we had all agreed that we weren’t going in there — no way! Too spooky, or maybe it was a critter lair. Today, Maria spotted the same cave, and pointed it out to Matt. Before we could say “Be careful,” he was up at the entrance to the cave (not easily accessible) and inside. Turns out it was just deep enough to walk into it and stand there. I climbed up to and into it, and it was very pretty and grotto-like inside. We got some great pictures!

What is so amazing about hiking at Devils Kitchen is that it is completely non-commercialized and uninhabited. No kiosks, no brochures, no concession stands, no admission gates or fees, and no people. We were the only people there, and we hiked as much of the area as we could. We did see some tracks from other hikers and from some animals, including deer and horses; we were gratified to see that there was very little of the detritus of civilization. There were only one or two areas where we found any evidence that humans had been there — broken bottles, nails, and barbed wire around what might have been a campfire. This place is just full of amazing rock and gravel formations and places to climb. And when you climb, the rewards are magnificent! Views of the valley below, views of other parts of the Devils Kitchen itself, views of the mountains — all just laid out to amaze us. I can visit this place every year when I come out here, and I always see something new and something even more beautiful than before.

We’ve shaped up our plans for the rest of the trip. Wednesday we will head for Cody and will camp at a KOA there. Thursday we will get into Yellowstone and will hike the geothermal area, then head south out of the park and find a place to stay once we get some miles behind us. Friday we will complete the jaunt to the Grand Canyon. I wasn’t able to find available camping within a reasonable distance, so we’ll spend a couple of nights it a hotel about an hour away, and drive to what we want to see, then hike. And by next Sunday afternoon, we will be on the road back to Michigan, having created two weeks worth of the most wonderful memories.

Hiking at this altitude is tiring, and I’m just about worn out for today, so I’ll sign off. The adventure continues tomorrow with a hike to the bluffs over the Big Horn River, followed by a trip to Shell Falls and lunch at Dirty Annie’s! More tomorrow —

“Sparky the Intrepid”

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