How Oregano, Boy Scouts, and a Giant Moose Saved the Day

May 15th, 2015: It all started on a Friday night at the library. (Something no good storyteller ever said.)

I was talking with one of my friends about getting over a cold. I already shook his hand, but still he started to back away like I had some kind of orange fungus growing out of my ear.


“Did you know that you can replace a first aid kit with medicinal herbs and oregano?” he asked me. Then I told him I was going hiking. “Better stick with the first aid kit,” was his response.

Using oregano instead of medicine? Sounds legit to me. That’s when I knew it was going to be a magical weekend.

May 16th, 2015: Woke up at 6 am. I live in a retired retirement home. The bathroom is right next to my bed—makes things really convenient. There’s even a panic button in case things get too crazy. Only thing is that it doesn’t work (I tried).

Sometimes Fake Things aren’t all that Fake

Drove for 2 hours down to Jackson, Wyoming. You know, the place where everyone can be a country girl/guy for a day. First stop—breakfast at the Bunnery.

The Bunnery in Jackson (best cinnamon rolls in town)
The lady at the counter spoke very little English, but she graciously dished us one of the largest cinnamon rolls known to man. After fighting off a diabetic coma at the local park, (because nobody likes dead bodies in the park) I remembered that one of the cashiers told us the reason for the huge gathering in town square—Jackson Hole’s Annual Antler Auction, sponsored by none other than the local BSA.

Rand & I (we survived the giant cinnamon roll)
(A.K.A. the place where people can buy a piece of the wild without having to go to the wild.) Some of the bigger antlers went for hundreds. I guess I’m just mad that I didn’t think of the idea. Still, it felt kinda dirty. On the plus side, I heard the Boy Scouts are upgrading from hot dogs to bison burgers. Lots of the money goes to the National Elk Refuge, so maybe it’s not entirely a tourist trap. Jackson Hole isn’t all about tourism; it also has a heart for giving back.

At the antler auction (I think this antler weighed more than the kid)
Two men strike a bargain

We hit the trail around 9. We ran into turbulence via none other than the Boy Scouts. 9 kids stood to blockade the only bridge across the river to the trail on the other side. (Is that legal? I’m pretty sure there’s a scout law against that.) I was just surprised the bridge didn’t collapse on everyone.

It would have been great practice to see how prepared we all were. By the time we passed the group and stopped for a short break, they were already on our tails again. It was a race to Taggart Lake, and there was no way I was going to let this pack of ravenous kids beat us. OK, maybe it was less intense than that. But still, those kids were on the march.

The BSA blockade

About 1.5 miles from the trailhead we hit Taggart Lake. Rain darkened the clouds in the background, but the rain gave the lake and the surrounding mountains a mystical quality.


Randi chilling Zen style (It's her birthday so she does what she wants)

AT TAGGART LAKE

I watched a white bird
skate the waters
surface.

Gliding over glass,
shoulders cutting waves,
waiting for
coastline.

He disappeared over
pine tops, over
mountains, over
clouds,
into prehistoric
time.

Where stories began
to take
shape.

The Problem with Spotting a Moose

We spent 10 minutes at the lake before the scouts caught up. We pressed on to the next stop, which was Bradley Lake. In between Bradley and Taggart Lakes, trees covered a section of the trail. Snow survived in giant white patches under the shade of the pines. Under the trees, through the snow, I felt covered from the outside world.

At Bradley Lake
Bradley was just as beautiful as Taggart. A 40-foot bridge crossed the northern neck of the lake. Now, I have never walked on water (and I probably never will) but this is what I imagine it would feel like. When I went over the water I left my worries and cares and started to glide across the top of the lake, started to take wings and fly. Maybe it didn’t happen like that, but maybe it did. The crazier it sounds, the more I believe it.

To me, hiking is an immortal sport. Part of me will always be on that trail, in the woods. I’m not talking about my foot, my arm, or even a pinky toe. I’m talking about my mind and my heart. I know I will not always live forever in this life, but surrounding myself with the earth that has been around for hundreds of years makes me feel like I could live a long time. The higher I hike, the closer I get to heaven, the more I feel on top of the world.

Somewhere up in the mountains I almost ran into a moose. (That would have been funny for a couple seconds.) She stared at me. I stared at her. She continued to chomp berries off a bush. The moose probably thought I was weird, which is exactly what I thought about the moose.




After driving back home, I watched a video about a bison bucking a tourist who stood too close. That’s when I lost that immortal feeling. I knew right then that no matter how strong I pretend to be, there will always be something out there that’s stronger, bigger, meatier. Something that could grind my bones into powder, and blow that powder out like a giant birthday cake gone wrong.


That’s the problem with seeing a moose. No matter how many people you tell, you can never accurately describe the scene to give it justice. Let's hope that if something goes wrong, the BSA saves the day with their upgraded bison burgers and oregano/medicinal herbs in place of first aid kits.

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