These Boots Are Made for Walking

The Danner hiking boots that helped me make it through Yellowstone.

A couple of summers ago, my family and I passed a man with a sprained ankle on the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park. As we were just beginning our hike on this popular alpine trail, he was almost done. At first I thought he must have hurt himself on the trail, but after inquiry, he explained that he had injured it the day before and wasn’t going to let that keep him from experiencing Glacier National Park. This brought me back to August of 1998 and the Grand Tetons.


We were still backpacking M & E, as they were 20 months and 7 months old. They sat contentedly in their packs as we took the crowded motor boat ride across the cerulean blue waters of Jenny Lake. The ride was exhilarating and I was quite impressed with the magnificent peaks of the Tetons.


While I took pictures and video, M stared intently at the other tourists on the boat. We disembarked on the opposite shore near the trails and were warned to be back at a certain time if we wanted to take the last boat back to civilization. We put the babies on our backs and hiked up to an overlook where we grabbed a snack and enjoyed splendid views of the lake.


We continued our hike on the Hidden Falls Trail for approximately another 3 hours before turning back. It’s always fun hiking with babies because you get a lot of attention and encouragement from fellow hikers. There is an unwritten code between hikers in that we motivate each other to accomplish our goals.


Loose rock covered parts of the trail and the way back down was a little treacherous. Understandably, it is always faster going down than up and it is essential to maintain one’s footing. E was in my backpack and I was going faster than I should have. My ankle gave way a couple of times on the descent before I sprained it and fell. I was able to rise to my feet and made it back to the last boat and back to the lodge.


Just like the man on the Highline, I had no intention of letting that injury ruin my trip. We had taken a pleasant road trip thousands of miles and there were still wondrous sights in store.


The following day, we traveled to nearby Yellowstone, the nation’s first National Park. There, my husband, Grandpa Davey insisted I visit the infirmary. He thought it prudent I find out if my ankle was broken and still refers to it as “when Mom broke her leg in the Teton’s” experience. Adamantly, I refused his advice. The pain was uncomfortable at times, but not unbearable.


Plus, I had my reliable Danner hiking boots that I had purchased at Babbit’s at the Grand Canyon on a previous trip. I still swear by them to this day for keeping my ankle supported and helping to initially reduce swelling. They are retired now, due to worn out soles, but I still miss them and keep them in my closet.


I hobbled out on the boardwalks to every thermal feature imaginable and can smell the “rotten eggs” of Yellowstone as I write. Next on the itinerary, was Devil’s Tower, Wyoming (where “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was filmed). Backpacking E, I limped along the trails, watching climbers’ rapell and imagining what was at the top. After camping the night at Devil’s Tower, the nation’s first National Monument, we headed to Mount Rushmore and Jewel Cave in the Black Hills of South Dakota.


It was on the subsequent drive to Badlands National Park where my ankle gave the most discomfort. At Badland’s, we were giddy about our accommodations at the incredibly cheap and spacious “cottage”. It wasn’t until my eyes traveled up the 90-ft ladder at Badlands, that I reluctantly decided to forgo the climb to the escarpment to see the view. I am still wondering what I missed.


It’s been two weeks since I sprained my ankle in a much less glamorous mishap. I’ve been taking it easy and forgoing some activities in order to heal before summertime when hiking season gets into full swing. It would be a great disappointment to miss out on our weekend jaunts.

Therefore, I completely understand why that man in Glacier National Park didn’t let his injury keep him down. To not take advantage of these extraordinary places, and discover their uniqueness is like having the cake without the icing. Delicious yes, but missing a little something.


To quote John Muir, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks”.