Our Echo
Title, story type, location, year, person or writer
Add a Post
View Posts
Popular Posts
Hall of Fame


Story ID:447
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Location:The Yellowstones Mont-Wyoming-Idaho USA
View Comments (7)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors



This Was Déjà Vu

What a couple lucky pups we were to have been able to carve a small niche on the snowmobile trails of West Yellowstone. Our son, Tim, a retired Montana Sheriff, had been informing us of the unusual lack of snow for months. "You better bring your sleds down soon. The riders are diggin' dirt on these lower trails every night," he warned. As I am now a right arm amputee, Tim completely reorganized my Skidoo for left hand driving and braking while Ken ordered and installed a special hook for the right side. After a few test rides around our ranch, it worked and we were ready to cook.

On the first weekend in March we arrived in the 6600 foot high town to observe bare main streets and nearly 50 degree temps. Unimaginable. Nevertheless, the convention centers and inns were packed and sleds sounded like swarms of bees on the back roads and trails. After a six year absence, the sights and sounds and smell of fuel brought back precious family moments that neither Ken or I thought we would ever experience again. This trek was a gutsy thing for two people all crippled up with rheumatoid arthritis to do. We were determined to appear as seasoned and macho as we had 30 years before, standing on our running boards, shifting from side to side, tackling big drifts, and side hilling.

We embarked on our sojourn from Tim's place eight miles west of town. Only a mile out there appeared a couple buffalo in the middle of the trail. Buffalo are unpredictable, and after all, we had invaded their territory. Best not rummage around in sled compartments for cameras at this point. This was an almost too close encounter, but these magnificent beasts eventually ignored our inquisitiveness and meandered off into the willows.

The feeling of all that power beneath us and fresh air against our faces was mind-blowing. No grimaces or groans, just grins, and we felt young. I turned around a time or two to see a huge smile under Ken's helmet and knew he was in seventh heaven. Tim wore a rear view mirror on his left glove to check on the old folks frequently. I think he was surprised to find us keeping up with his ever increasing pace until at last the wide open high pastures beckoned us to play. This was déjà vu!

We rode hard and we rode fast, Ken at 60 mph for starters down into willowed valleys and back up vertical hills, and I mean vertical! Talk about your highs . . . wow, this was better than ___. Well never mind! And as an ex-snowmobile racer, Tim, of course, rides extreme on his new Skidoo 900. Our hearts jumped into our throats as we watched him disappear over a deep crevice, miraculously reappearing in a cloud of white out the other side. With me, I think I'm pretty hot stuff kicking up a respectable rooster tail.

Some 25 miles up and around the hills and high valleys we found ourselves 8700 feet up on a mountain called "Two Top." Standing in Montana we looked full circle down on Idaho, Wyoming and the Yellowstone ranges. The Grand Tetons to the south were veiled in clouds that day but the warmth of the sun felt so good we discarded helmets to cool off. The trees immediately below were bare of snow so we felt lucky finding the last remnants of snowghosts at this elevation. Time for pictures.

Somehow, somewhere, on our downward trek, we lost Ken. His self confidence was obviously on a rampage as he was smokin' those trails. So, Tim beckoned me to head east while he chased west off into Idaho after Pops.

My descent was a great solo adventure complete with a large pack of wolves. I nearly slid off the trail in my efforts to stop at the awesome sight. The entire pack was in the center of my lane just milling around. I was too scared to get off my sled to find a camera so just sat and waited for them to leave. Even though they were a far piece down the trail, I could see tails wagging vigorously as they whimpered and yelped and circled each other. Suddenly it appeared one of the wolves had been to the barber that very morning. Then another shorthair showed up and all of a sudden a girl pushing a sled came around the corner. The mixed breed huskies had broken loose and no one had told me this was a very popular place to train for the Iditeron. Shucks!

Fellow travelers coming up the mountain to my left were as friendly as snowmobilers have always been. They all gave me the high sign and I politely reciprocated with the only free hand available, my right hook. As an afterthought, and at those speeds, I'm afraid they thought I was making unkind gestures. So we rolled in the snow dying of laughter over wolves and high signs after my guys showed up.

You'd think 48 miles of advanced trails would have done us in for one day. Nope, it was our plan to take an eight hour stint riding with Tim in his snow groomer that night. After a meal in town we went to the groomer barn where all four of the huge machines were sitting in warmth shedding every last ounce of water before the nightly run. We were introduced to the crew and the boss man himself.

Dog is a proud Muscalero Apache from Arizona who herds big equipment the year around, working construction in the summer months within the park. He's wiry, full of fun, sports two long braids and the guys think he's the greatest boss ever. They have to for fear of a scalping. This ol' gal took to groomin' real easy after an apprentice course. Pops missed his ride preferring the comfort of a couch and I paid for my nightowl ways by sleeping most of the next day. God willin', we'll return next year for another helping of déjà vu.

Kath & Piston Bully